By now you will know that if I just say ‘the fell’ I’m referring to Longridge Fell. However there is a new restaurant in town simply called Fell – not been yet, rather pricy. Saving it for a special occasion.
I was going to get my hair cut when a phone call came from the ‘slate poem lady’, Clare, wondering if I fancied a walk up the fell as the day was perfect. Of course I did.
We were accompanied by Zola, an Australian Kelpie. This breed, possibly descended from our Collies are working dogs and need a lot of exercise. Whilst we walked three or four miles I think she did ten. There was a moment of panic when a Roe Deer bounded out of the trees and shot across the heather, Zola picked up the scent and was off. Fortunately cheese snacks dragged her back.
We had already taken a slightly different route up the fell because the paragliders* in the sky were spooking the dog. Normally they are launching themselves off Parlick across the valley, but occasionally if the winds change they congregate up here, using the steep scarp for launching.
It all looked very exciting and the views from up there must be great but I was happy to keep my feet on the ground. Some of that ground was very boggy today but we made it to the trig point, yes we could see Ingleborough and Pen-Y-Ghent and the Hodder Valley spread below us, the sky was so clear, before we disappeared into the woods. I love this passage down the tunnel of light.
A bit of boggy walking, more boggy than I had expected, sorry, on past the tree that I christened ‘It’s Grim Up North’ years ago.
Back at the road I took a hidden track into Cowley Brook Plantation for some further circular exploration. We found some unidentified fungi and peered into the deep hole in the ground, Sweden Quarry. After some awkward bracken bashing we were again on the road not far from our parked cars, the paragliders were still enjoying the updraft.. The sun shining bright, these are the autumn days to be enjoyed and praised.
Anybody can make history. The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. Misquoting Oscar Wilde.
Storm Agnes is coming, batten down the hatches. But our little group complete the short morning walk around Longridge before the rain arrives. We are safely in The Alston eating lunch as the trees begin to sway – not a day to be out and about.
When I say our group I’m including myself into their group who meet once a month for a sociable walk of historical interest. I was out the last two weekends researching possible future walks with one of the group’s regulars for when it is his turn to lead. I am invited along today as a ‘guest’ mainly because the walk is in Longridge itself and comes past my house.
It’s a year or so since I walked with them, so I had to reacquaint myself with names and faces in the car park of The Alston. I’m not a group walker at the best of times, but they are a friendly lot, and selfishly a short walk today suited my diminishing exercise needs. There is some debate amongst the flock as to the needs of waterproofs and boots, faffing is increased disproportionally with the number of people involved.
Our leader has us away relatively promptly – Storm Agnes is making an appearance at noon, we need to get a move on. He, our leader, has a job on keeping the attention of the 20 or so walkers. But he is an ex-teacher, including having taught my children, so he keeps us in order. He has lots to tell us of the history of the area and has done his research thoroughly. He starts by quoting Oscar Wilde so that any later errors may be excused.
Moving on past my house, proudly illustrated in the header photo, we come across a series of interesting sites scattered around the village. The attention of the group fades somewhat as we progress. Our passage creates mild panic on the roads, think Moses parting the seas, and obstructions on the pavements, most passers-by stand aside to our onslaught.
The Alston Arms; Old Rib Farmhouse; Green Nook; the railway to Grimsargh; Pinfold Lane; Reservoirs; St. Lawrence’s; war memorials; the Old Station; mills; various pubs and bustling Berry Lane all play a part.
I don’t risk my newly repaired camera to the elements today, so you will have to be content with these sepia postcards of Berry Lane and The Old Rib.
Nowadays with the spider’s web, it is easy to find their histories elsewhere if you are interested, either true or rewritten as Oscar would say. Anyhow, thanks for having me along.
It seems superfluous to include a map but keeping to my usual habit here is our route, a mere four miles but full of history.
You will have noticed we are moving from Summer to Autumn, although the seasons are not what they were. Heavy rain forecast for today and yes it arrived this morning. Soup and bread for lunch which will become the norm from now on, ditching the salads. I make lots of nutritious soups from cheap, out of date vegetables, from the supermarket and my freezer is full of them.
Come early afternoon it looks brighter. From my house I can view the westerlies coming in over the Fylde plain. Should be OK for an hour or so. I walk down past the cricket ground watching the clouds scudding across Fairsnape. It feels quite warm in the sunshine.
Up Mile Lane (it is nowhere near a mile) meeting a few dog walkers on the way. We are all trying to dodge the showers. The spire of our village’s St. Wilfred’s Church always prominent on the horizon.
My mood is improving with every few more moments of sunshine. Exercise and sunshine are great healers, especially as we enter the darker months. By the time I pass through the park into the village I’m positively humming. Time to pop into our local Sainsbury’s for some more spinach destined for the freezer as soup. That’s nearly three miles under my belt before the next band of rain. Let’s hope tomorrow will give some breaks in the weather.
I’m idly looking at the OS map for something new on my home ground. I’m only looking for a few gentle miles and I think I have spotted a footpath I’ve not knowingly been on before, however unlikely that seems. The weather is on the change, and it has been raining this morning, I bide my time until after lunch.
Being lazy I drive my car to the top of the village to start the walk rather than tramp the streets. There is parking next to Craig Y bouldering venue, part of the defunct Green Bank Quarry complex, The BMC secured Craig Y whilst the rest of the site has been developed into a housing estate. Passing through it is a bridleway leading to an ancient sunken lane, Written Stone Lane, did some of the quarried stone exit this way? Today I wander down it coming out near the site of the Written Stone about which I’ve visited many times before and linked to The Written Stone of Dilworth for a detailed history.
On across the road to go down a quiet lane to where my ‘new’ path should be found on the right. There is no sign, but I know I’m in the correct place. Ahead doesn’t look very inviting – farm buildings and all the usual associated junk. I wonder whether the way will be blocked, but no after having to open one gate styles start appearing in the field boundaries, although I doubt few come this way. In the fields there are several small ponds probably Marl Pits originally,they are teeming with Mallard families.
At one point a fishing lake has been created in Page Brook, here footpath signs are more evident taking you through and away from the private lake. All very civilised.
I recognise Stonelands Farm in the distance from a different walk done three years ago. I am still none the wiser as to the origins of the carved stones, although the rounded one is definitely Roman.
Crossing carefully the road on the bad bend by The Corporation Arms, one of many local pubs that did not survive lockdown and the continuing financial restraints.
Soon off the busy road the Tan Yard track is taken back up into the quarries, what must Longridge have been like when they were all working. The caravan site is enlarging, and I notice some of the permanent vans have extensive views across the Ribble Valley – not a bad place to live. Pendle always manages to pop its head up. Himalayan Balsam is doing its best to obliterate the final stretch of path.
The rain starts just as I arrive back at the car. That has been a pleasant afternoon’s outing, a new path found and plenty of interest along the way, all on the very edge of town. .
Those aren’t my walking boots, they are on hold for the moment, but my gardening shoes. I have a habit of leaning them upside down, to keep them dry, outside the backdoor after what is usually a short session of weeding or mowing. There they remained for a few days whilst we had an onslaught of continuous rain. You may recall the sad end to the Ashes Test at Old Trafford last week.
This morning I thought I would do a spot of rose deadheading, a relaxing activity unlikely to put a strain on any of my ongoing injuries. I shoe horn my right foot into the shoe, tying the laces. The left foot comes up against something soft and mysterious. Had I left a sock in there? Putting my fingers in I can’t dislodge the obstruction, but tapping the shoe on the floor brings out a toad to my surprise and amusement. He, they always look like a ‘he’, sits there unconcerned. I check the shoe for his mate but only find a slug presumably his lunch. Gardening is delayed whilst I retreat for another coffee.
Toad in the hole – the story relates that on an unspecified golf course a player’s ball was pushed out of the 18th hole after which the offending toad poked his head out to the amazement of the players. The chef at the golf club devised a dish immortalizing this episode; a sausage, the mole, poking its head out of the batter. This is how legends are born.
I have a few ideas for some hilly walks now the weather has improved, but they would involve travelling on the busy Easter roads, so I manage to procrastinate the morning away. Let’s just stay local and have a wander up Longridge Fell checking out a few bird habitats at the same time. I’m keen to see the Great Crested Grebes performing their mating dance on the little reservoir at the top of the village. This is where I park my car. Craig Y Longridge is busy with climbers.
As I’m putting my boots on along come JD and his friend Danny. In a couple of weeks they are off to do a pilgrimage walk through Portugal to Santiago de Compostella and are out for a brisk training walk. May I join you I ask? Yes as long as you can keep up with us. All very friendly. They set off at speed up the road, my ‘un’fitness showing. I let them do the talking whilst I try to get my breath back. Fortunately there is soon a rest break whilst they remove clothing layers, the day is hotting up along with their pace. They stuff their clothes onto rucksacks which they are carrying for training purposes.
Now into rhythm I begin to enjoy the walk as we climb up onto Longridge Fell, my original destination. There are daffodils and primroses along the verge and bird song in the air. Young lambs play in the fields. Aren’t we lucky to have this on our doorstep?
Instead of following their intended route up the lane to the kennels I take them off on a track through the fields, past the little reservoir, on by the long abandoned quarries and just below the expensive farm conversion to meet up with the lane leading to the plantations. They claim they had never been that way before, but I doubt their memories. They stop on the ridge for a drink, I suck on an orange. Then along the balcony path above Chipping Vale to the crowded parking on Jeffrey. The first people we had met all afternoon.
We have a quick look into Cardwell Quarry where JD and I used to climb years ago as I had seen a barn owl there the other day. We see a couple of small falcons fly out – ?merlins. In the corner I spot the barn owl, get a hurried long shot (photographically I hasten to add) before it sees us and flies out – what a wonderful bird. Now I know where it roosts I creep in another day and try and get some better images. JD is surprised to see the amount of significant rock fall that has occurred over the years. Quarries are inherently unstable, one just hopes that you are not hanging on when the rock decides to part company. Anyway climbing is banned here ever since some unruly and aggressive behaviour towards the farmer from some youths partying in there. I only hope they weren’t climbers, not that it makes any difference to the ban.
It’s all downhill on the road back to Longridge past the golf course. As part of their training they feel obliged to call in for a drink. We sit on the sunny balcony enjoying a beer whilst the golfers go over their good and bad shots of the day. All very pleasant. Resisting the temptation to stay longer we are soon back into town. I had had my walk up the fell in slightly different circumstances to those envisaged and thoroughly enjoyed the banter. It has turned out averyGood Friday after all. I’m envious of their upcoming peregrination.
This week I have been alternating short walks and flat cycle rides with nothing of note to report. Everything came to a standstill yesterday with the collision of cold winds from the north with a front from the south. Amber warning. My son cancelled a lunchtime visit from Manchester and I watched the snowflakes falling in the afternoon. During the night things must have turned nasty as today I woke to a couple of inches of snow. (The radio told of far worse conditions in the Pennines) It was interesting to try and identify the tracks across my back garden, one doesn’t know what transpires in the night. Something I should resolve either with sitting up into the wee hours or more likely installing a motion detecting camera.
By mid-morning the sun had appeared and traffic started using my road. Time to get out and about. The tossed coin said walk. So I did. A brand-new pair of lightweight boots had arrived in the post. Helly Hansen and looking perfect for summer walking – right let’s try them out in some snow. Living in Longridge I am lucky to be able to walk from my doorstep into the open countryside or as I did today up onto the fell. The route on roads was one of my regular runs way back then. I knew it would give me good Bowland views with the minimum of hassle.
Once out of the village ‘Forty Acre Lane’ gave me those promised views. I’m not sure which side the ‘forty acres’ are on but never mind the vista across Chipping Vale to the hills is uplifting. The snow on the south slopes was visibly melting as I walked but showed up the features of the Parlick, Fairsnape and Totridge Fells in great detail. Virtually no cars passed me, the road was just thawing enough for them. There were still drifts in the gateways. The golf course was closed, perhaps prematurely as the afternoon was perfect.
The usual crowd of cars was parked up at Jeffrey Hill. From up here the northern slopes of Pendle Hill were plastered with snow – they usually have it worse in East Lancashire. I was in two minds to take to the fells with the rest of them and visit Spire Hill, instead keeping to the road but no sooner had I decided this I was tempted off into Cowley Brook Plantation. My favourite getaway place. It was a joy to tread virgin snow through the trees. Silence was everywhere except for those little birds singing unseen.
Back out on the lower road I trudged back along the switchbacks to Longridge as the temperature started to fall again. The roadside gorse was a brilliant yellow.
How good that sunshine must have done for my endomorphins.
Trying to spread my diminishing physical ‘talents’ around – walking, cycling and climbing. today after a miserable week of wheeziness and coughing I made the effort to drive up to Craig Y Longridge not that it is very far. Would it be a step too far? Possibly.
I’ve been coming here for years, far too many. I’m probably four times the age of the young dudes who come from afar to test their strength and skills on one of England’s premier bouldering venues. This strenuous training crag (more correctly a quarry) is fortunately on my doorstep. Every spring I am determined to get strong again.
I’m surprised by the number of people here today, but it is dry with a glimpse of the sun and temperatures nudging above 6 degrees. We all climb in hope. The colourful crowd is mainly one group from Lancaster. All a friendly lot. Whilst they hurl themselves at desperate overhanging problems I slouch off to the easier far end where I can play around on some familiar traverses. I’m only feeling my way back to fitness but as I climb that old buzz kicks in, and I start to enjoy myself and pull off some smart moves. But not for long – the strength soon runs out. Still, there is time to chat with the others, passing the time of day and reflecting on past days and crags. They tolerate my reminisces, I only hope time will be memorable for them too.
I may have used this title for a post in the past. Whilst fellow bloggers are exploring Manchester, White Nancy, Covid and Wildlife crimes I’m content with a walk around my local lanes. After my drubbing, is that a word, the other day on the Guild Wheel cycle route contentment is the prime objective. I live on the edge of the countryside, but only just with all the new developments, so for many walks I don’t need my car – just set off from the front door.
The road out of the village past the cricket ground is far busier than I ever remember it, a speedway to Chipping. That is why for my cycling these days I prefer the off-road routes. Anyhow, I’m walking today. Storm Otto blew itself out here in the morning and now the sun is shining. As I was saying the road is busy and after a stretch where the footpath ends I resort to evasive action crossing and recrossing to have a straight view of the traffic and hopefully them me. All along are views of the Bowland Hills tempting me to the north. Past that archetypal country inn.
Is that a Kestrel in the tree?
I survive to where I turn up a side lane heading for Longridge Fell. Those white railings, sited on corners for better through visibility, are slowly disappearing – a rural crime.
I stop to talk to a farmer about the winters we never have these days. (tempting fate I know). Along comes a car which stops to reveal a dog walking friend fresh off the fell and heading for a nearby farm café, a good catch up ensures. I’m then admiring the hedge layering skills along the way and am lucky enough to come across the skilled labourer himself. A chain saw now makes the labour easier, but he has to be careful with the final close cut. A bill hook finishes off the branch severing, leaving a slender life giving, bent over, horizontal, stem for further growth. The whole process is to keep the hawthorn hedge thick at the base and stock proof in the future. He seems happy in his work and as he says ” jobs a goodun”
There is a steep hill ahead of me but I have no problem which is reassuring after my last outing mentioned above. (my Covid test was negative by the way) On the way up my mind wanders to future projects – Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones, finishing off my Cicerone series, getting back on the rock, visiting friends afar not seen since before the lockdown and dare I hope getting back to the Canary Islands. Dreams. Inshallah.
I scan the reservoir for grebes, but the water is too rough today, I’m hoping to catch them in their courting display this year after last year being entertained by the chicks being carried on their mother’s back.
Down through the housing estates and I call in at JD’s for a welcome coffee and plans. A ghostly barn owl quarters across the remaining fields in front of his house. He alerts me to this signage along the road which I had not noticed before – see me after school.
I came across this temporary CCTV installation on my walk across the fields this morning. Notice how blue the sky is.
Placed in a field next to tracks leading to isolated farms and a back way into Ferraris Country Hotel. Four solar-powered cameras pointing around the compass. Have there been recent burglaries or fly tipping? I am sure it’s not to watch the animals or ramblers. Further enquiries are needed.
I was out for a short brisk walk in the countryside behind my house, there had been overnight light snow which always gives a different atmosphere to the familiar, making the fells look higher and more majestic. There was a satisfying crunch underfoot, mine were the only footprints. Though there were prints of rabbits, hare, deer, and the odd bird who had passed by earlier. The snow was rapidly melting in the fields but compacting to an icy danger on the lanes.
The Bowland Fells.
Soon I was heading up an icy Mile Lane back into the village for a bit of shopping.
The remaining snow had a rosy glow in tonight’s Turneresque sunset.
I have not pulled my boots on for a month or so. Today was too windy for cycling, so a short local walk was in order. Do you remember those days of lockdown when only short excursions were allowed – I stuck to the rules. I walked through the fields to Gill Bridge, on through Ferraris country hotel (doing takeaways only) and back along the almost empty road. I repeated the same walk or variations many times, using hand sanitiser after every gate latch or stile. Others had the same idea and the footpaths became well trodden and easy to follow.
We are two years on from there, most of us have had Covid and thankfully survived and life is moving on. We are however faced with another batch of problems, but let’s not dwell on those today. It’s time for some fresh air and exercise.
I repeat that same four mile route from my house. It does not look as though many others are walking the paths. They are overgrown and unloved. No need for hand sanitiser any more, did it ever do any good? The views have not changed, and I’m surrounded by the Bowland Fells and Longridge Fell. The clouds blow through in the blustery winds with odd bursts of sunshine.
I find chestnuts, ‘conkers’, where I hadn’t realised there were chestnut trees. A handful go into my pocket for planting later and while I’m at it collect some oak nuts, acorns. Beech nuts are in profusion along the roadside. Unidentified fungi are seen in the fields. Hawthorn berries add a touch of rouge to the hedgerows.
Into the outdoors.
Autumn’s fruitfulness is our bonus for this splendid short rural walk on my doorstep. My spirits are lifted, and our other problems put in their place.
I mustn’t leave it so long before I next tread these paths, they don’t deserve to be forgotten.
It’s two months since I was last able to do a walk out of Mark Sutcliffe’s guide book. Finding one locally I strode out today on his Jeffrey Hill chapter. The suggestion was to park at Little Town Dairy, a farm shop, nursery and café. I feel guilty using a businesses’ car park if I’m not giving them any business so I parked by the road higher up on the route, which was to prove tiresome later in the day.
I had reservations about the initial route through the upmarket barn conversions at Dilworth Brow Farm, previously a run down property. There was no need to worry, the path through was obvious, and even the local dog was friendly. Every farm seems to be erecting holiday lodges, Is this a result of the recent ‘staycation’ mentality?
An uncertain start.
Once into fields I could enjoy views over the Ribble Valley and distant Pendle as I dropped to an ancient bridleway. Being enclosed and sunken this was once a boggy mess, but drainage has been installed and an upgraded grit surface added. This was only a short section of the right of way, one wonders why certain paths are improved (a further one later) when others are neglected.
Note the size of the left-hand gatepost.
I made the obligatory short diversion to view the Written Stone, I have written of this before,excuse the pun. A car passes down the farm lane, I thought I recognised friends from years ago and regretted not stopping them. As I walked through the tidy environs of Cottam House I asked a man about the history of the place, he turned out to be the son of the above couple. So we had a catch-up, I passed on my regards and walked on.
The Written Stone.
This was the start of a slow climb back up to the ridge of Longridge Fell. Rough ground skirting the golf club and then the road up to Jeffrey Hill at Cardwell House. A large walking group was coming past and didn’t seem over friendly, head down mentality. There was a straggler taking some interest in his surroundings. We ended up in a long conversation about all things, as he said “it’s not dark till late”. I felt he had lost connection with the route march he had been on. Nobody came looking for him.
Up to Jeffrey Hill.
The Ribble Valley and Pendle.
No time for stragglers.
I took a picture of the iconic view which I mentioned in a recent post. A ‘glass wall’ has replaced the iron railings depicted in the painting I own from 40 years ago.
That view from Jeffrey Hill.
Nearby was a bench for refreshments. Some stones had been intricately carved as part of an art sculpture from 2014, It was a shame they removed the star of the installation, the Sun Catcher.
Remains of the sculpture installation.
Now steeply downhill, look at the contours, ending up on the road at Thornley Hall. The ford leading off the road was surprisingly full. The next bit of track starts as a track but quickly becomes an overgrown narrow path, the book advises a stick for hacking back the vegetation. I happily swashbuckled my way along and at the end came onto another strange short stretch of gritted path.
Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.
The listed C18th Thornley Hall.
A promising start to the bridleway…
…soon becomes this…
…and then unexpectedly this.
Familiar lanes took me past Wheatley Farm and a house that always has a splendid floral display. Onto the busy main road where care is needed on the bend. I was glad to be back in the peaceful fields of Chipping Vale under the Bowland Hills. Heading towards Little Town Dairy where I could have parked at the start, but no I was faced with another steep climb back onto the fell. I reckon I had climbed over 1000ft in the 7 miles which took me 4 hours including all those stops.
Wheatley Farm, 1774.
One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.
Parlick and Fairsnape.
There was one more encounter at Sharples House. The farmer there had previously talked of having the largest cheese press in Lancashire, I believed him. In the past many farms in the area made their own cheese, tasty Lancashire. Today he seemed in a good mood, so I enquired further, and he took me to see the stone, it was indeed large and must have weighed a ton. He explained that the house was from the late 17th century. A former occupant, a Peter Walken (1684-1769) had been a nonconformist minister as well as a farmer. Uniquely he kept a series of diaries, most have been lost but two from 1733-34 have been found and published by a researcher from Preston museum. The present farmer was contacted and was able to see the journals but described them as boring, though they must have given an insight into farming life in the first half of the 18th century. He also told me of a mystery from the last century when two thieves broke into the house killing the farmer, but the daughter perhaps escaped hiding in an adjacent barn. One wonders how much local history has been lost.
There is another mystery just along the lane at Birks Farm – what is this structure in the wall built for? I should have asked the last farmer, next time.
Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.
I used to be able to recognise and name most of the wayside flowers. As part of my A Level Botany course we had to present a collection of pressed and dried flowers to the external examiner for an intensive viva. I’m talking of 60 years ago, I suspect the modern day student will not of heard of external examiners and vivas. Being the sad git that I am, I still have my folder of dried flowers, about 200 species all classified and labelled precisely. I may fish them out and show you my diligence.
Time passes by and one’s interests widen, but I have always tried to put a name to plants as I pass by, but I admit to becoming a bit rusty on those once familiar names. At my age one starts to worry about dementia but all my friends struggle too. Annoyingly that elusive name will often surface at a later time. Anyhow, to brush up on my plant recognition skills I decided to upload an app onto my phone that would help me on those I had forgotten. I know I’m behind the times with this technology.
There were several to choose from, and eventually I chose one. I pointed it at an Ox Eye Daisy and it only told me that it was from the Asteraceae (daisy) family. That didn’t seem to be good enough, so I tried a few more. None were particularly accurate or quick to respond, maybe it’s my ageing Android phone. I searched ‘best plant apps’ and eventually settled on iNaturalist. Time to put it to the test.
A local walk I often do involves a pleasant almost traffic free lane. They call it Mile Lane despite the fact that it only measures half a mile. My mission today was to try and photograph and identify every flower seen on this short rural stretch of Lancashire. Last time I was out I was solely on the trail of the Bee Orchid – today I would be content with a Thistle or Dandelion.
That half mile took me far longer than usual as I searched the verges and hedges for as many plants as possible. Rather disappointedly I only counted 25 different species. (Grasses weren’t included, that would have been a step too far.) I recognised the majority of them but was stumped by one which my app told me was a Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica. I wasn’t aware of its pungent smell, next time I come across it I’ll check that out. Its common name suggests it was used for dressing wounds, no doubt having some antiseptic properties.
I was not impressed with the iNaturalist. It took a long time to register the plant and often gave a rather vague identification. I admit my phone is not the best for photography which may have a bearing on the results. If any of you have a suggestion for a favourite plant identification app I would be very grateful for your advice, I’ll try it out on a different lane.
Following my post about a week ago I have kept visiting the Upper Dilworth Reservoir in Longridge to check on the progress of our Great Crested Grebes and their two chicks. I am glad to report that the chicks are doing well and swimming independently of their mother, no longer hiding on her back. I was slightly concerned that there was no sign of the male today.
Every day I see a pair of Mallards sitting on my lawn. They were attracted no doubt by my small pond and the bird food I spread on the ground every morning. The fact that they are together suggests that the duck hasn’t laid any eggs yet, I cannot see any sign of a nest.
I made a rough home for a hedgehog out of reeds, twigs and leaves earlier in the year hoping to attract them into my garden. Yesterday at dusk a hedgehog wandered across the lawn. It is probably around when I’m in bed. Let’s hope for a family. My photograph is not that good,I missed its snout.
The male pheasant who used to come for food has gone elsewhere. There is an abundance of blackbirds, robins, sparrows, starlings, great and blue tits all busy feeding their young scattered in hidden nests around the garden. A pair of magpies are no doubt doing damage to the smaller birds eggs.
These three were less welcome visitors.
Meanwhile, up on the Upper Dilworth Reservoir where I park to go bouldering in Craig Y Longridge there is quite a lot of activity. The Mallards had chicks a while back, not sure how many will survive.
The Canada Geese are showing off their youngsters.
The Tufted Ducks are just swimming around though they have nested on the island in previous years.
But the highlight of this week was watching the pair of Great Crested Grebes on the water. I have been keeping an eye on them for several weeks, I missed their mating dance. I saw them building a nest in the reeds, but the foliage growth had camouflaged it, so I didn’t know if she had laid any eggs. I can see now that she has two chicks and is carrying them on her back whilst the male goes off diving for fish. They are quite a way out on the water, so my camera struggled to cope. The two young are virtually invisible on her back from this distance, just a flash of white feathers, but when the male returns their heads pop up, and sometimes they take to the water. He feeds her small fish, and I’m sure he was also giving titbits to the young. What a privilege to be able to watch their family life.
While I’m bouldering in Craig Y I often hear a Wren’s alarm call, and today I saw her fly out from low down in the rock face. On investigating there was the domed mossy nest in a crack. I kept well away for the rest of my session.
Oh! And I thought my garden was looking very green. You can’t see the weeds.
PS. I called in to see some friends today after a walk, they have a rough patch of grass in front of their house, and it was full of orchids – I’m not sure which variety, but I liked them.
To mark the Easter visit of my family from Manchester a Chinese noodle lunch was enjoyed; and then whilst the physiotherapist was diagnosing my knee problem, resulting from that cycling incident last month, they exercised the dogs up on Longridge Fell. Back at home after coffee my three grandchildren were keen to do a little outside bouldering at the local unique Craig y Longridge. Where they live in Stretford is a bouldering gym, The Depot, which they regularly visit so a chance to get outside was eagerly anticipated. Despite the recent damp weather I was able to find dry rock to climb on and in my senior and injured role was happy to point them at the problems. Great to see them enjoying themselves.
By the time we got back the washing up had all been done. Perfect.
In the absence of any serious walking I often pop up in the car to the small reservoir at the top of Longridge. There are a pair of Great Crested Grebes usually in evidence, diving into the depths. They apparently have a splendid mating dance but so far have not displayed it to me.
But today who should wander into my garden but this splendid Garganey drake. A rare visitor indeed.