Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Land of the Hornywink

This little walk story is about solitude. It's about one of those days where nothing and no-one encroached on my time or thinking, and my mind meandered through the past and wandered into the future. The walk didn't follow any set route either to be honest.
It didn't start that way. I'd decided to go to Swaledale where I'd planned a routed from Gunnerside. But, stuck behind a slow moving car on the narrow B6270 from Reeth, I decided I didn't want to do that after all, and diverted off at Healaugh and drove up to Surrender Bridge. Once there I thought I'd walk over to Gunnerside and pick up on the path I'd already worked out. So, with that plan in mind, I set of over Feetham Pasture.
It was a lovely day, a little cloudy, but plenty of sunshine, and as always, I was loving being out in the open, soaking up the views and constantly pausing to enjoy them. 

And as always I like to see and hear the birds, and the Lapwings certainly wanted to make sure I didn't miss them.
With their constant pee-whit calls I was surrounded by Green Plovers, Peewits, Pewits, Pee-wees, Chewits, Tuefits, Toppyups, Peasiewheeps, Teeacks, Teewwhuppos, Thievnigs, Wallocks and Plivvers. (And that's only some of the names for a them!). 

Did you know a flock of Lapwings is known as a deceit? And the Shetland name of Tieve's Nacket means "thieves imp". It seems these birds weren't very well thought of in the past, although people did think well enough of them to eat them and their eggs. In fact, they were so well thought of as food that they were reduced to 20 breeding pairs by 1915. And the reason the Lappys were considered deceitful? It's because the birds feign a broken wing, or hop and flap and make a lot of noise to distract people away from their nests and to protect their eggs. 

But that was in the past. Now they are plentiful and noisy. Out on the moor, I watched their acrobatics in the sky all around me. I tried to take some pictures, but all I got for my efforts were silhouettes. The wings look flappy and unmanageable, but despite appearances, they allow the Pie-wipes amazing aerial control.
And amongst the Wallopie Weps were Curlews and Meadow Pipits. The Curlews I heard, but only managed to see in the distance. The Meadow Pipits weren't quite so shy.
I walked on entertained by birds around me until I came across a Flopwing that was being quite deceitful. He was making a lot of noise and flapping about to my left, so I was very sure there was a nest on my right. This Flapjack was so worried that I'd find the nest, he let me get close enough to take a few pictures.
Then it was on past Brownsey House and up to Stoops Rigg. With just the wind and the birds for company I sat for a while, asbsorbing the views.
I started off again towards Barf End until I reached the point above Gunnerside where I could join my planned route. I looked ahead at the path I'd walked many times, and then right, to one that I'd never explored before.
So right it was. Up to Browney Moor, via the old quarries and Slade Head. As I approached a row of Grouse Butts, a small flock of birds crossed the path to land up hill. The birds weren't keen to pose and stayed a distance away, but with the camera on full zoom, I managed to get a few pictures to prove they were Golden Plovers. Another treat for my day.
As I said at the beginning, solitude was the theme. Although I nodded hello to a couple, and to two guys on mountain bikes, it was just me alone all afternoon. The space around me was filled with nothing but sun, wind and bird song and I loved it. Time was mine and I lingered and wandered to my heart's content.
Eventually I started downhill and reached Moor House, (which should really be called No Moor House). It is so remote up here. How did people live when the weather cut off the rest of the world I wonder?
Next for investigation was a little square of fencing, I was hoping it guarded a mineshaft. I was right, but it was all blocked off and made safe which was slightly disappointing. Even worse, I don't know enough to imagine how it would have been when it was in use.
But I was cheered up by a pretty and very small star like flower growing close to the ground.  It's called Spring Sandwort
Starting on the way back now, I crossed Level House Bridge. The Hornpie's preferred the higher ground, so I left them behind. But in the heather I could hear the soft pup pup noises of a mother grouse keeping her chicks in check.
My final photo stops were Hard Level Force, where there wasn't very much water going over the fall.
But there was a little rabbit.
And last but not least, the Old Gang Smelting Mills.
So that was my day. I should point out that amongst the noise of the Hornpies, I was testing a small tablet loaded with Memory Map (MM allows you a trial period) to plan/follow my route and also to act as a GPS. It was a total success. I could enlarge the map and manoeuvre it however I wanted, I was able to track my route and the GPS made sure I knew exactly where I was at all times and it made it easy for me to change my route as I went along. Definitely the way forward for me.
An easy enough walk, just over 8 miles and about 1000ft uppiness

And I have to mention Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey - it's full of all sorts of information about Lapwings.  It's also got a few stories about Golden Plovers, Pipits and Grouse, but I'll save them for another day.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Aysgarth to Bolton Castle

Today started badly.

I'd agreed to meet Ed from the walking forum at Aysgarth Falls at 10 am for a walk that I'd planned.  At 9.25 I opened my eyes to look at the clock and then I became the fastest moving zombie ever.  I'd not woken up, but I knew I had to get out, and I couldn't remember any of things that you are supposed to do in the morning.

At 9.50 I was in the car and on my way.  No breakfast and no coffee, I nearly forgot my boots but I did remember brush my teeth............  And get dressed.

My little car flew over the hills, and it wasn't long before I ended up tailing a blue Ford into Carperby.  Fortunately it wasn't going that slow.  That would be because it was Ed, also late and now just in front of me.  Phew! We both pulled into the National Park car park at 10.15.  (He had a good excuse though, like driving for an hour and three quarters)

"Well!  That was a good start to the day", thought I, "let's hope it doesn't continue like that." and pulled my rucksack out of the car.  It was upside down, and the top was wide open!

So I picked everything up and after rummaging around under the car for the water bottles, got me boots on, locked the car and set off with Ed over the bridge towards Aysgarth Church.   It turned out to be a really good walk.  Not too strenuous and only a couple more hiccups, one of which was I'd forgotten my camera.  I used my mobile phone instead (which eventually run out of battery), and sadly many of the pictures aren't that clear, but I've added the best of them to the little story of our walk.

We saw waterfalls and crossed stepping stones
Stepping Stones over the River Ure at Slapestone Wath
Walked through lanes waist high in flowers
Thoresby Lane, Wensleydale
Saw a speckled wood
Speckled Wood butterfly. 

A dragon
A dragon carved out of a fallen ash on the road up to Castle Bolton village
Bolton Castle

And a castle

There were sheep with fringes
The sheep on the left has been sheared, the farmer left her a long curly woolly fringe. 
A Grey, a Bay, a Palomino and a Black but I didn't get that picture.  (Horses if you didn't know).  We saw goats and fat hairy pigs, and guinea fowl but I didn't get those pictures either.

Excited at seeing so many different domestic animals, I didn't take notice of where we were going.  So we went the wrong way, but the bonus was that there were alpaca's in the field ahead of us.  In my hurry to go see, I didn't look.  And ended up in a pile on the road.  So, another thing we got to see today was my blood.  Not a lot fortunately, enough for me to have to get the plasters out though.  (I'm making it sound worse than it really was. It was only a few grazes.)

Anyway,  we got to see Alpaca's

And dead moles all in a row.  (Ugh!)
Like a train crash.  You have to look.  And they're repulsive. 
Then we turned around and went back to find the right path.  Walking across the field from West Bolton to East End Farm we were lucky enough to get to see both Oyster Catchers and Lapwings close up.  They were everywhere, screeching and pee-whitting,  flying around our heads.  It was quite cool actually.
We also got to see Ragged Robin, a flower I've never seen before (Ed identified it), and banks covered in gorgeous blue Speedwell.
Speedwell turning the grassy bank blue. 
From Carperby we made our way to St Joseph's Wood and from there down to the Lower Falls.  If you know to keep walking on the gravel path, there is a little drop down to the levels below Lower Falls.  Definitely the best view of them.
Lower Falls, Aysgarth
Then it was back to the car park to offload our kit and another little treat to see this old timer.  (Not the bloke, the bus ).
An old timer - I dunno anything about cars or buses, except that this one is old. 
Finally we went back over the bridge to the Yore Mill coffee shop on the other side.  Definitely the best place for cake and a cuppa, nd they sell some of the best icecream in the area.   I didn't have any cash though........ (another fail!).  Good job they take visa.

It was hot and muggy with the occasional bit of drizzle.  We walked just over 8 miles (partly cos we went the wrong way), with 850ft of up.  I really enjoyed the day out.  Thanks Ed.

And sorry to anyone reading about the quality of the photo's.  I'll do better next time.  Promise.

Oh and by the way, the map of the route.