Across the fields to Cocking Tor.

My walk last week was in the White Peak Area where Les and I set out to walk some of the less well known hills of the Derbyshire Dales.

We were doing a reccee for the next Crosby Rambling Club ‘A’ party walk that Les is due to lead. We started our walk from the station at Matlock Bath and our first objective was the ascent of the limestone cliff of High Tor. It was a stiff climb and there were several unprotected edges. There view from the top was impressive, looking down on the River Derwent and across to the Heights of Abraham on the opposite hill.

58 High Tor

In the Victorian Era Matlock Bath was a popular Spa town. The area around High Tor was laid out as pleasure gardens and woodland walks. The route to the top was considered an Alpine walk.

We now lost all the height we had gained and dropped down to the river before heading off to the village of Riber. It involved another climb up to the ruins of Riber Castle. These looked impressive from a distance but we found they were fenced off. No chance of any photos.


We continued  to the village of Tansley and on to Tansley Knoll. Out route description seemed concise but the signposting was poor. It was becoming an exercise in ‘micro-navigation ‘as we crossed numerous fields.


Ahead we could see the gritstone crag of Cocking Tor. Our desription warned of ‘a bit of a scramble’ I found it  a struggle. At one point I could not bring my leg high enough to gain the next foothold. I went down on one knee which left me unstable and of course you cannot push off from your knee. I needed some support and reached out for some vegetation to help haul myself upwards. The vegetation was the prickly sort and I ended up with lots of cuts to me hands. We made it but decided it would not be wise to lead a party up here.

The top was a bit of a surprise. A gently sloping slab of rock leading to a sheer drop.The rock was covered in inscriptions one of which dated back to 1896.



The view was impressive looking over the Amber Valley towards Ogston Reservoir.

We paused for lunch and then walked along the escarpment into woodland before heading due west through more fields. In some fields where the crop had not been harvested there was a clear path but in others there was no sign of a path on the ground. It was a good job we had our GPS.



Finally we reached the A632 Chesterfield Road. We were running behind schedule but were on track.

After a short section of road walking we were due to head back along the picturesque Lumsdale Valley. An area full of industrial archaeology with millponds, waterfalls and ruined mills. However it was not to be. On either side of the road a huge housing estate was being built. We found our signpost showing the bridleway leading to Lumsdale Quarry but attached to it was a notice stating that the path was closed until 2019. It also informed us that no alternative route was available. We consulted our map but there really was no way round. We were forced to walk along a minor road for a couple of miles. I suppose that is why we always do a reccee. It would have been embarrassing if it had happened when we were leading a group of walkers.

When we reached the main road we contacted our friends who were back at the car and they came and picked us up. They had also encountered problems on their walk.

It had been a hot and tiring day not helped by the heavy traffic on the drive home.

A day to forget.

Posted in Adventures with Les, Peak District, Photography, Walks | 1 Comment

Dufton and High Cup Nick

High Nick Cup

My walk last weekend was on the western flanks of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I was out with Crosby Rambling Club and I decided to do the ‘A’ party walk led by Malcolm. It sounded reasonable, 10.5 miles with a steady climb up to High Cup Nick.


We left Dufton and set out along the well travelled Pennine Way.


It was a very hot day but we took it steady and a light wind kept us cool. It was worth pausing, not only to catch our breath, but to admire the view looking back down the valley.


After about an hours walking we reached the Narrow Gate path and the edge of High Cup Nick


Walking along the rim there were several beautiful rock formations.


High Nick Cup is a deep chasm on the Pennine fell side. This nick, which is a dramatic geological formation at the top of High Cup gill. It is part of Whin Sill and overlooks the best glaciated valley in Northern England.You can see the blue-grey dolerite crags that also form High Force and Cauldron Snout. It was a perfect place to stop for lunch.

High Cup Nick (2)

After lunch we walked round the southern rim of the valley. We were now sheltered from the wind and it was so hot.



We had to do one section of clambering over rocks to gain the main path by the ‘pile of stones’ but from then on it was a steady descent down to the village of Murton.




At Murton we had a choice. We could navigate our way along a series of field paths and through a wood, or, we could walk along a minor road directly back to Dufton. All of us were hot, tired and very thirsty. We chose the road, it would be quicker and give us time for a pint at the end. We only met three vehicles but the sun was bouncing off the road and the dry stone walls either side. There was not a breath of wind and it was so hot that the tarmac was melting. Gordon had to walk through it leaving his footprints for posterity. Or at least until the next car came along.

We arrived back in Dufton after 11.5 miles of walking. The Stag Inn was serving Windermere Pale 3.5% ABV. A pale, hoppy bitter. Very refreshing, just what we needed.

Posted in Crosby Rambling Club, Cumbria, Landscape, Photography, Walks | 3 Comments

A Butterfly, a Bird and some Bindweed.

The glorious weather continues and this morning I was down by the coastguard station. I headed north along the coast through Hightown Dunes and Meadows to see what I could find.

Lots of butterflies were on the wing but they were very active and hardly settled for an instant. I did however spot some Large Skipper feeding on Vipers Bugloss and managed to get my photo.

3. Large Skipper

7. Large Skipper

                                     The Large Skipper ( Ochlodes sylvanus )

Glancing out to sea I spotted a large bird perched on a rock. With my trusty little Lumix camera on maximum zoom I managed to get a shot before it flew off. It was a Heron.

13 Heron

Walking back along the erosion I was looking for Sea Bindweed. Last week I had seen the heart shaped leaves but today I spotted the first flower.

8 Sea Bindweed

The plant is found around the coastline of Britain but is quite rare. The flowers are pink with five narrow white bands. This differentiates it from the more common Field Bindweed which is usually all white.

12 Bindweed

                                                     Field Bindweed.

Sea Bindweed (  Calystegia soldanella ) is also known as ‘ The Prince’s Flower’ According to legend seeds fell from the pocket of Prince Charles Edward Stuart when he landed back in Scotland in 1745 to lead the Jacobite uprising.


As I crouched down to take my picture I felt a sharp pain in my arm. I looked down just in time to see a huge horsefly disappear. I had been bitten right on the vein on the inside of my elbow. It immediately started to swell up. Time to head off home.

Now where did I put the antihistamine cream?

Posted in Birds, Butterflies, Hightown Dunes and Meadows, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline, Wild Flowers | 2 Comments

A Chinese Junk ship in Waterloo !

I was back walking along Crosby beach but today I continued down to the Lakeside Leisure Centre in Waterloo where I was surprised to see a Chinese Junk Ship.


It was literally a ship made from junk. Called ‘The Good Ship Flotsam’ it was designed by local artist Lynne Winstanley and made from marine waste collected from local beaches. The project involved several organisations including local schools.

The Good Ship Flotsam was a local response to the global environmental issues caused by marine pollution and was produced by Mersey Drift Creations to coincide with the Tall Ships visit to Merseyside.

Pupils of Waterloo Primary School collected thousands of plastic bottle tops from the beach and won the inter schools competition. Their prize was to have their school flag flown from the mast of the Good Ship Flotsam.

By yesterday when I took my photo the sculpture was being dismantled although several of the objects are now on display inside the Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre.


I walked back along the beach watching one of the container ships leaving the port.

The were still some Lion’s Mane Jellyfish being washed up on the beach.


I found o0ne that was stranded but still alive with its tentacles training behind it.

94 Loin's Mane Jellyfish

From the image you can perhaps see how it got its name. The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish.

Posted in Photography, Sefton Coastline | Leave a comment

A wander down Crosby Beach.

Friday 22nd June.

It was a glorious sunny morning so I decided to have a stroll down Crosby Beach to see what I could find.


As always, the Iron Men, part of Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ installation were staring out to sea. I sometimes like to imagine that they are aliens and the building in the background is their ‘Mother Ship’


As I wandered along towards Seaforth docks I noticed hundreds of jellyfish on the beach.


I had heard about this on the early morning local news. There were lots of Lion’s Mane jellyfish, Cyanea capillata.

58 Lion's Mane Jellyfish

These jellyfish are potentially dangerous if touched as they can still deliver a sting when they are dead. The sting is no worse than that of a bee or wasp but can cause problems to swimmers who can become entangled in the tentacles.

The Lion’s Mane jellyfish is the largest known species of Jellyfish and can reach up to 2m in diameter with tentacles that can grow to more than 30m in length. Thankfully we do not have any that big off the coast of Britain. The ones I saw had a diameter of about 50 cm.

I continued along the beach getting close to some of the Iron Men.

63 Iron Man

I think this one wished he had used more Factor 50 sunscreen !

On reaching the docks I headed back up to the promenade and through the dunes to Marine Lake.

66 Marine Lake

As I wandered round the lake I was amazed to see hundreds of Early Marsh Orchids.


I was soon down on my knees taking pictures.


Gulls were also finding places to perch and rest.


I made my way slowly back to the ‘spaceship’ also known as ‘Crosby Baths and Leisure Centre’ having enjoyed a couple of hours in the sunshine.

Posted in Another Place, Crosby sand dunes, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline, The Iron Men, Wild Flowers | Leave a comment

Warton Crag and Jenny Brown’s Point.


My walk this week was in north west Lancashire where our plan was to climb Warton Crag. We parked at Warton Crag quarry which is a Local Nature Reserve. We  had hoped to see some rare fritillary butterflies, but not today. It was dull with just a fine drizzle.

We expected the climb to be easy, it was not. Our route description proved useless. There was a myriad of paths crisscrossing each other. Which was the correct one? We just used our GPS and headed upwards. We had to pass through several rocky outcrops which involved a bit of scrambling. The limestone was wet and very slippery, we had to be careful. As we gained height we could look across Morecambe Bay and along the coast towards Silverdale and Arnside.



At the top of the crag there is a trig point and a beacon.  The beacon was last lit for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in 2012.


We descended through Strickland Wood to reach a clear path which led us to a minor road. After a short section of road walking we headed east along a path through woodland and then open grassland. To our right was Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.


At Crag Foot we joined the road which would lead us back to the car, but we would only have walked 5 miles. We needed to extend the walk. After studying our map we decided to add on a 3 mile circuit taking in a section of the Lancashire Coastal Way.

Passing under the railway bridge we through an area of salt marsh.


We reached a signpost and had to decide which way to go.


We headed for Heald Brow. There would be a short, stiff climb. Better to get it over with first. We then dropped down towards the coast heading for Jenny Brown’s Point. We made a short detour to Jack Scout, a viewpoint at the top of some low cliffs. It is a popular place from which to view the sunset over Morecambe Bay.

Jenny Brown’s Point, just south of Silverdale was very interesting. There is the remains of an old sea wall. Construction began in the mid 19th century in an attempt to reclaim Silverdale Sands but work was abandoned as it was both expensive and ineffective.


We continued along the rocky beach heading for the remains of an old chimney.


The origins of the chimney are not really known but it is thought to belong to some old copper smelting works which existed there from 1780 –1820.


The sky had cleared and the sun was out. It was very beautiful and peaceful as we made our way back across the saltmarsh.


It had been a good day out. Only 8 miles and 1250 ft of ascent but lovely scenery and a bit of local history in an area that I had not really explored before.

Posted in Adventures with Les, Industrial Heritage, Lancashire, Local History, Photography, Walks | Leave a comment

The Prehistoric Forest and a Sea Potato.

13 River Alt

On Saturday I joined a walk organised by ‘Green Sefton’ to explore the Hightown Dunes and Meadows area of the Sefton Coastline. Starting from Hightown Station we followed the River Alt to enter the dune system. John, our guide gave us lots of information about the ecology and the management of the dune system.

It has been a strange Spring. A very wet March and April was followed by a dry May and early June. This had had an effect on the flora. However it has not stopped some of the invasive species such as the Japanese Rose, Rosa rugosa which is spreading rapidly.

It may look beautiful but it is crowding our local plants.

Another problem species is the Everlasting Pea, Lathyrus latifolus.

Everlasting Pea

This can occur in massive clumps and swamp the habitat.

We did find some rare species such as the Isle of Man Cabbage, Coincya monensis.

15 Isle of Man Cabbage

This member of the Brassicaceae family or Cabbage Plant is endemic to the western coast of Great Britain but is only found in a few locations. The species used to be abundant on the Isle of Man, hence the name, but the population there has almost collapsed. Perhaps we ought to rename it- the Sefton Coast Cabbage !

We made our way onto the shingle beach at the mouth of the Alt. It is also known locally as the Blitz Beach as it was created from debris from the blitz in WW 2 that was later dumped along the coast to prevent erosion. It is home to several plant species that are quite rare including the Yellow Horned Poppy, Glaucium flavum

18 Yellow Horned Poppy

Later in the season the seed pods can grow to extraordinary lengths.

Nearby there were some clumps of Rock Samphire, also known as Sea Fennel.

19 Rock samphire

This edible plant can be used in salads.

Leaving the shingle beach we headed north past the sailing Club to reach Hightown Beach where we could see the remains of the Prehistoric Forest. Carbon dating has shown that these tree stumps date back 7000 years.

23 Prehistoric Forest

21 Prehistoric Forest

Waling along the pristine beach I could hear crunching under my feet. What was I treading on? it was the empty shell cases of the Sea Potato, Echinocardium  cordatum.

25 Sea Potato

It is a heart shaped sea urchin which is clothed in a dense coat of furrowed yellowish spines. The empty cases known as tests are fawn in colour and have lost their spines when they are washed up on the strandline.

We continued on along the estuary where we saw lots of birdlife. It was a day more for the ornithologist than the botanist.

Posted in Hightown Dunes and Meadows, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline, Wild Flowers | Leave a comment