Archive for the ‘Lancashire’ Category

Easter Sun – Silverdale (and around) Antics   10 comments

More weather madness as a bitterly cold day in Brecon Beacons was followed a week later by record breaking hot weather at Easter. We’d timed this to perfection with another visit the the Hotel Silverdale and our top notch friends who seem to tolerate our repeated visits with very good grace.

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We packed in a lot over the four days around this rather beautiful and unspoilt corner of Lancashire.

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An early morning walk to the shop to stock up on provisions via the The Cove and The Lots.

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After lunch (or before maybe) a cycling trip to Trowbarrow Quarry.

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I’d rather foolishly committed to a mountain bike ride around the many bumps, jumps and drops in the quarry with the Dangerous Brothers. They’d been reminding me for weeks not to forget to bring my bike seemingly concerned that I would chicken out (which was my plan all along).

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I couldn’t let them down and did indeed have a go at most of the stuff they peer-pressured me into (although I decided not to try any of the jumps on the basis I’m far too heavy!)

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I admit it was enormous fun and other than one wobble on a very steep drop that had me bouncing through tree branches I survived unscathed. As you can see above they even convinced their dad to give it a go!

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Its a stunning spot on a clear sunny day and we all enjoyed a laze around as well as some more frantic two wheeled activity. I was actually a little disappointed that we never found time to head up there again.

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We also found time to play with a boomerang in the fields behind the house.

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Much harder than it looks actually.

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Only a couple of attempts came close to coming back to the thrower. Doesn’t matter as we had enormous fun trying.

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We took a walk up to Arnside Knott one morning. A fine small hill (England’s smallest Marilyn in case you were interested)

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A gloriously hot and sunny day that had us searching for the shade to keep cool.

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Superb views across the Kent estuary

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And back via Arnside Tower.

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An afternoon trip to sunbathe and swim at Levens Deer Park.

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The water was startlingly cold but refreshing. I think its the earliest in the year I’ve ever been fresh water swimming.

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The DBs of course were back in their element jumping of the banks (although as an honorary DB I joined in as well)

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The evening on the patio was a festival of BBQ meat (and some Vegan stuff for those that way inclined) and a roaring fire burning the remains of the kids old swings.

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And no trip here is complete without the classic walk around the coast to Arnside and back over Arnside Knott.

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Arnside, packed with visitors, no seats in the cafe so an alfresco and delicious hot pie on the pier was a more than adequate compensation.

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More views from Arnside Knott to finish off a superb weekend in the sunshine with good company, loads of activities and fine selection of food.

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Big thanks to the Silverdale massive for taking care of us and making it into a wonderful mini-holiday.

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Weekend With Long Lost Friends and Offspring   9 comments

Another visit to the very friendly accommodating Hotel de Silverdale an excuse to catch up with our errant son now living the high life up at Lancaster University. As always a splendid weekend of locals walks, banter and great food.

We took several outings the first of which was a wander to Trowbarrow Quarry. Its another of those places that I’m sure Mark must have taken me before, probably many times but I was insistent I’ve never visited.

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A route through Eaves Wood and down to Hawes Water, now being remodelled with new boardwalks to protect the local flora and fauna.

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This local fauna sadly will only be protected to the point where it becomes sausages.

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Trowbarrow Quarry was rather fine. Lots of people rock climbing and the DBs took time showing me all the Mountain Bike routes.

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Rather foolishly I seem to have made a commitment to bring my bike on the next visit so they can take me biking in the quarry. Likely to end in amusement for them and injury for me.

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We stopped off at Leighton Moss on the way back and took a trip up their observation tower where the views were exceedingly fine.

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And then back across the golf course and the fields for lunch of homemade mushroom soup – also exceedingly fine.

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We went out for another brief stroll to the Pepper Pot in Eaves Wood hoping to see the sunset but the clouds had descended and it was a pretty murky. I tried a couple of black and white images to see how they came out.

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The evening was characterised by a takeaway curry and the arrival of Mark’s brother and his two kids. I’ve not seen him since his stag do – pushing 20 years so it was great to catch up and swap some old and new stories.

A morning walk around Jenny Brown’s Point and Jack Scout. Still gloomy and grey but its a fine walk.

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The weather and plenty of chatter meant only a couple of photos.

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Despite a gloomy forecast the afternoon was glorious and sunny and a final walk was in order. It wouldn’t be a Silverdale weekend without a trip up Arnside Knott. and the late afternoon sunshine was very welcome.

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Mark had found a new path to the summit – a very steep way as it happens but we timed our arrival with some stunning light conditions.

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The Lakes were still under the gloom proving that sometimes small and local is best.

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We reckoned if we pushed on at a brisk pace we could reach the Pepper Pot in time for what we hoped would be a better sunset.

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Our route took us past Arnside Tower which looked magnificent lit up by the setting sun.

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It seems rather sad that no-one seems to be looking after it and slowly it seems to falling down and will likely crumble at some point. A sad reflection that this beautiful historic building may not be around forever.

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We reached the Pepper Pot a matter of seconds before the sun went down and whilst not exactly fire in the sky it was a wonderful and peaceful way to finish a cracking weekend

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Thanks as always to Mark and the Family for letting us stay and making us welcome and great to catch up with old friends and enjoy the delights of this wonderful and unspoilt part of the world.

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And Then There Were Three   21 comments

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A couple of weekends back and a big change for the family. TJS having worked hard for his A-Level results was now about to start on his own way in the world. With full car and empty wallet we dropped him off and helped him settle in to his new life at Lancaster University. Four years of hard work and new experiences await him as he starts his Masters Physics course. He’s taken everything completely in his stride and seemed totally at ease with settling into life away from home. In fact they had set up all kinds of events for his welcome day and was eager for us to go! In truth the fact that he seemed so ready to go made the prospect much easier for me and TBF as parents.

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Its a new life for us to get used to as well. Luckily we have our good friends Mark and his family who live nearby and offered to put us up for the weekend. That also helped to soften the blow of the changed circumstances. We managed to fit in a series of fine walks over the weekend around our commitments with Danny and their weekend plans.

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After dropping Danny off in Lancaster we had time for an afternoon walk. As you know from my many previous visits to their home, there is a huge range of wonderful interesting walks that go straight from the door. First one, we followed Mark as he took us a tour that included Arnside Knott.

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After cutting through Eaves Wood we passed by Middlebarrow Quarry. (I’m sure Mark will correct me if I have any of the locations or maps incorrect – there are so many paths around there, not all marked on the map, that its impossible to be 100% sure where I am. Not that it matters, its all wonderful). Its huge but you’d never know it was there unless you went looking for it

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Across a huge open pasture with views to Arnside Knott and Arnside Tower. The railway line was close by and there a few people clearly waiting for a train to pass through. More on that later.

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As we emerged onto the upper slopes of Arnside Knott the colours told us Autumn was on its way and the views, as they always are from up here, were superb

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Here is the stream train crossing the Arnside viaduct over the Kent that the spotters must have been waiting for

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One of the finest of the UK’s small hills in my view. Me and Mark played the game of which one we thought was best between Carn Fadryn and Arnside Knott. I think it was an honourable draw. 🙂

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In the late afternoon sunshine the changing colours of the trees was spellbinding.

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Throw in the sunlight behind the clouds and it was all rather splendid.

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TBF looking cold

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Fungus-mongous!

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A view down over Silverdale village

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And the setting sun.

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A respectable 6 miles for a late afternoon walk

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Next morning one of the DBs was being confirmed at a local church so me and TBF went for a short stroll down to Jenny Brown’s Point and Jack Scout

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It was a pretty dull morning and very cold and windy. However even though I was without my local guides I managed not get lost!

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A view across Morecambe Bay towards Lancaster

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A view towards Grange over Sands from  Jack Scout

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Another 5 miles to the total

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After a fine buffet lunch we were out again. Back across The Lots (one of my favourite spots around here). The weather had changed to bright sunny intervals and heavy showers

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I don’t mind those sorts of days. Its wothn putting up with the odd soaking when you get clear spells and dark brooding skies like these

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We wandered back through the edge of the village and along The Row (dodging another shower) and then up into Eaves Wood. The light in the trees was sublime

 

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Emerging on to the top near the Pepper Pot the storms were still tracking across the horizon, missing us fortunately.

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A storm completely covering Heysham and its power station – it was clearly visible a minute or two earlier

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And the Pepper Pot itself.

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Another 4 miles in the bank and almost 15 miles over the weekend. Not bad for a few strolls

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So a contrasting weekend of emotions. A mix of pride and sadness that TJS has now left home to follow his own path and seems to coping so well, and a great weekend spent with good friends. Huge thanks to Mark, TBH and the family for helping us through the weekend, putting us up and feeding us amazingly well as they always do! 🙂

A Favourite Revisited   15 comments

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Another day with our NW friends and another cold but much brighter day. It seems that whenever we stay this walk or a derivative of it always seems to be on the agenda and no bad thing. The coastal walk from Silverdale around the coast to Arnside, returning over Arnside Knott is a classic and one that always brings a smile to my face. The variety of scenery and great views is a winner, this time further enlivened by a fine lunch.

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As always on a sunny day the walk through the village and Holgates Caravan Park was lovely, wild spring daffodils in abundance. This short stretch between Holgates and Far Arnside across the fields is superb with views over the bay and up to the Knott

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I’m sure I must have done this walk with the tide in but I don’t remember. My memory of this walk is of strolling across the sands and mud towards Arnside from somewhere near the point below. Whatever, the section along the narrow coast path is very fine

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The view across the Kent Estuary towards Grange

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And back towards Heysham Point and the Fylde

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We could see the high peaks of the Eastern Lake District still with plenty of snow. A fact we were reminded of as we turned the corner into the wind where the temperature dropped markedly

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The full tide made the final couple of miles into Arnside much more interesting. Not an exceptionally high tide according to Mark but as high as I’ve seen it

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The last passage into the village, had us scrambling across paths and diverting inland to drier ground

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All part off the fun of this walk

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Our lunch was at the eclectic Gado Gado restaurant. By that I mean the name is Indonesian but the food takes inspiration from many far eastern origins and it was all marvellous (the sweet and spicy duck was lush as was the less exotic Sticky Toffee Pudding). We stayed a long couple of hours and left with full bellies and a warm glow. Just as well as it had clouded over while we were inside and was now distinctly chilly

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A steep climb up the Knott to take in the views, climb trees (younger members) and complain about how far the climb is on a full stomach

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Even on a grey day it the views are majestic

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Our hosts took us on a path I’m sure I’ve not been on before, a high, narrow and quite exposed route above the southern slopes with great views over the bay and Silverdale village. Makes the Knott seem far higher than its modest 522 feet

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Our route home took us past the Arnside Peel Tower

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No idea how far the walk actually is, my OS route mapper says just over 8 miles but I’m sure its further

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Despite pigging out for lunch by the time we were home it seemed entirely acceptable to spread out a feast of meats, breads, cheeses etc as the round of scoffing began anew. It must have been the fresh winter air! 🙂

 

A dream fulfilled on Farleton Fell   15 comments

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I’ve probably driven along the M6 in Lancashire and Cumbria hundreds of times heading for the Lake District and beyond. As you approach junction 36 for the South Lakes, Farleton Fell dominates the view to the east of the motorway, a massive limestone escarpment that catches the eye and begs a walk. Despite having driven up this way for over 30 years I’ve never been up there. Time to put that right.

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I’ve always known this as Farleton Fell but the map seems to show that applies to the northern slopes with Farleton Knott the most prominent, if not the highest point (that doesn’t have a name) with reference to Holme Park Fell and Newbiggin Crags as well.

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The road climbs pretty much to the highest point and we set off into what was a very keen and very cold wind. Another beastly one.

The first thing that caught my eye was view across Lancaster and Morecambe Bay to what looked like Blackpool tower far in the distance. There was much scepticism from the kids but I think this proves I was right. You can see the massive rollercoaster in the Pleasure Beach as well on the left of the skyline

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It was a pretty gloomy day but we did have some shafts of bright sunlight and as you can see this area of Limestone is rather splendid such that even on a cold grey day its a fine spot

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Another one for the much talked about but never to be published “small hills” book

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Striding out for the summit

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Panorama across the bay

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It’s actually quite a distinct edge with some impressive limestone pavements and crags. The DBs were in their element. Until the elder DB banged his arm and DB Junior fell over onto his knees, a painful experience on hard angular rock

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The top was colonised by cows sheltering from the wind so we joined them for a short rest. No-one but me seemed all that keen to climb to Farleton Knott but I convinced them

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I’m sure, like me , they were glad they did as the views and the limestone scenery were superb

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Looking back to the highest point

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From summit I could look down on the M6 South Lakes junction that had me excited for reasons probably only I truly understand. Dreams fulfilled we headed back down. It really was bitingly cold

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On another day the full circuit of the plateau looks a really rewarding stroll. DB Junior was still deeply unhappy and it looked like everyone else had had their fill so I’ll have to save that for another day. There were some glorious sunny spells that lit up the trees with moody skies behind but I was never quick enough to catch them. This was my best effort

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A nice happy photo to finish off

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Probably able to round this up to 4 miles if our recent discussions of the accuracy of various mapping methods is anything to go by

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Takin’ it Easy   14 comments

Early summer has become a time of added pressure for the family over the past couple of years and will continue for a few years yet. As the junior members face up to GCSE’s and A-Levels, May and June are a time of revision and exams. TJS is now mid-A-Level and when he’s off to University the cycle begins again for TJF. The May Spring Bank Holiday was always a main holiday for us but for now we have to be content with weekend breaks that while a good chance to get away normally involve camping and all the hassle that goes with it.

We are therefore lucky indeed to have my good friend Mark, his better half and their kids who invited us up to stay for the weekend. As always it was superb time of walks, play, good fun and laughs aplenty. Just the ticket to break up the school pressures and for me, personally to wind down and just enjoy simpler pleasures

The weather seemed set fair but alas the glorious drive up in broad sunshine on the Friday was a farewell wave (or two fingers up, take your pick) from our fickle British summer.

Saturday was hot and humid and with a forecast of heavy thundery showers on the way. Time to take advantage of the joy of Silverdale with one of its many fine short walks.

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We went down to the cove where some sat and enjoyed the last of the warm sun, while me and the DBs explored the smelly beach caves

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From there we went across the Lots, a lovely open meadow overlooking Morecambe Bay and one of my favourite spots in these parts. We missed the best of the Orchids that flower here so compensated with a windy game of frisbee

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Alas the weather intervened and stopped outdoor play. A succession of heavy thunderstorms and its accompanying electric light show filled the rest of the day.

Sunday looked much better and we had a plan. A walk with a pub for lunch was in order. We had designs on a couple of spots but, rather unsurprisingly, most were fully booked with it being a Sunday on a BH weekend.

No matter, we had a resrve plan that included Garden Centres, cafes and a supermarket as a fail safe. Mark had a walk planned that ticked numerous boxes. After a visit to the Mill at Beetham (and an unsuccessful visit to the Garden Centre Cafe – packed out) we headed to Milnthorpe via Dallam Deer Park

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I like Deer Parks, something about their manicured pastures and woodland, here with some views to the Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales

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And of course Deer, although a little reticent and distant (the specks under the trees in the middle distance)

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Lunch was now becoming a matter of priority. We came across the Bulls Head in Milnthorpe. It wasn’t much to look at either inside or out, all flashing fruit machines and pool tables. We were assured the food was good so gave it a go. What a find, the menu was extensive, the food excellent and staff friendly and capable, coping well with a party of nine arriving mid afternoon expecting top fed unannounced. The prices were reasonable and we all left with happy burps and distended stomachs. Time to work off some of that acquired fat

We walked back through the edge of the deer park along the river Bela. It was exceedingly fine and under a warm sun the walk was a delight

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The river broadens and the path follows it out across the floodplain to where it joins the Kent

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Time for more contrasts as we headed back inland with a short climb up Haverbrack.

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The views across the Kent estuary to the distant Lake District fells was grand

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Even the butterflies looked happy

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Fairy steps was next on the tick list. A narrow passage with some old nonsense about fairies coming and giving you a blessing or doing the ironing for you or some-such if you manage to climb up without touching the sides. Here is Mark having a valiant attempt

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The kids making it look easy

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TBF seeming to enjoy the challenge

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After a pause on the top it was back down through the woods to the car, crossing this magnificent spread of buttercups on the way

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A fine walk and not an unsubstantial 6 miles in the end (a long way with a gang of restless kids I can tell you)

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Mark had suggested we could walk back to the house and collect the car later. Seemed like a good idea in principle but when we reached the car the moment had gone. A much better idea was a late evening walk to the Pepper Pot.

On the way Mark showed us a Woodpecker nest he’d watched the previous week. We were sure the chicks would have flown by now but after a couple minutes one of the youngsters popped his head out and started squawking to be fed – boy are Woodpecker chicks noisy. We could hear the parents in the distance but they never appeared, clearly waiting for us to move before they returned

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As always the view from the top was superb and we sat watching the light fade in peace and quiet before returning in near darkness through the woods. A quite excellent day

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Monday was a washout but only in weather terms. Heavy rain kept us indoors but spirits were high as we filled the day playing a variety of board games of which the Silverdale gang have many. It was in its own way as fine a day as the previous one and it was with a heavy heart that we ate heartily again and bid our hosts farewell

A top notch weekend and as always a huge message of thanks to Mark and the family for putting us up and feeding us like kings and queens. We are an active family, a little too absorbed with doing stuff every minute of every day of holiday for our own good. Sometimes I forget that there is as much pleasure from timeless easy-paced wanders, games, play and just great company. I sometimes return from a holiday fulfilled yet needing a break to recover. A weekend in Silverdale sees me return fulfilled and relaxed in equal measure and isn’t that what a holiday should be

R & R in Silverdale   4 comments

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A short post based on the few photos I took over this weekend back in September. More in tribute and thanks to Mark and his family for inviting the usual collection of kids young and now getting older and adults already old and trying to be younger, to their home and allowing us to eat their food, untidy their rooms and generally interrupt their busy life. Its a weekend we now always look forward to as a kind of last hurrah before the dark days of winter set in

We did a pretty long on the Saturday. Leighton Moss & Hall and down to Warton (where we met the Yorkshire contingent for a pint and a bowl of chips in a local pub) and then back to Silverdale via Warton Crag. It was an excellent day but as it was a little grey and overcast I took no pictures. It was more a day for catching up and chatting and none the worse for that.

Sunday was day of bright sunny intervals and though there were heavy showers we missed almost all of them on a walk down to Jack Scout and Jenny Brown’s Point. Its one of my favourites and this time took a few snaps to capture the day.

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En route we came across a rope swing that the kids had a great time with (and some adults who should know better)

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The tide was out and the views across Morecambe Bay, the wet sand reflecting the sun, were very fetching

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The kids gathered for a cheery team photo in the very strong and blustery wind, before we went back for yet more food. Eating is a big part of this weekend 🙂

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We enjoyed one final walk between late afternoon lunch and early tea – yet more food – up through Eaves Wood to the Pepperpot. The views across the village and the bay from here are superb and I’m always jealous of the fact that this view is no more than a 15-20 minute stroll from Mark’s front door.

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A fine way to finish another excellent weekend away – big thanks again to the Silverdale crew!

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