A circuit of Loughrigg Fell.

At last the Covid restrictions are eased and I could get out to meet my friends from Crosby Rambling Club and enjoy a walk in the Lake District.

Out destination was Ambleside and I did the B walk, a steady 8.5 miles led by Judith.

We left Ambleside and followed the minor road that runs alongside the River Rothay to reach Rothay Park. From here we began a steep climb along lanes, tracks and a rocky path to Miller Brow. We then followed a footpath across the fell to reach the beautiful and secluded Lily Tarn.

18 Lily Tarn

19 The B party at Lily Tarn

After a short rest we continued across open fells with several ups and downs to reach the bridleway that skirts Ivy Crag.

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33 it's all uphill

The bridleway led us to Loughrigg Tarn where we stopped for lunch with plenty of time to admire the scenery and the classic view of the Langdale Pikes across the tarn.

26. Loughrigg Tarn

We continued along the bridleway and a lane to contour round the fell reach Loughrigg Terrace. This is a popular track with magnificent views over Grasmere and Rydal Water.

33 Grasmere30 Grasmere

37 Rydal Water

We stopped at the impressive Rydal Cave and then continued back into Ambleside in need of some refreshment.

There could only be one place to go. The Golden Rule Pub on Smithy Brow. With a wide choice of Robinson Beers, No background music or big screen. An ideal place to enjoy a pint and a chat after a walk. We sat in the beer garden and I enjoyed a pint of ‘Wicked’

It must be the best pub in Ambleside.

It had been a super day and my first proper walk for 18 months. I was tired which gave me the perfect excuse to doze on the coach during the journey back along the motorway.

Posted in Crosby Rambling Club, Lake District, Walks | Leave a comment

Walking in a wildflower meadow.

56 Rimrose Valley flower meadow46 Rimrose Valley flower meadow

Today I ventured just a couple of miles from home to visit the wildflower meadow in Rimrose Valley. Over the past couple of years wild flower seeds have been scattered to produce an amazing sight.

There were many different species including poppies, cornflower, corn marigold and chamomile.

Here are a few of my images.

24 poppy49 Cornflower

54 Corn Marigold21

Hard to believe that I was only a mile away from Seaforth Docks whose cranes I could see in the distance.

There are proposals to build a road through the valley to create an easier route between the motorway junction at Switch Island and the docks. How could they consider destroying such a beautiful environment?

!4. Rimrose Valley flower meadow

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A cabbage in the dunes.

P 450. Crosby Dunes

This week I went for a short stroll through Crosby Sand-dunes which stretch south from Crosby Baths to the boundary of Liverpool Freeport. The area consists of both mobile and fixed dunes and contains a wide variety of plant life. Close to the baths the dunes were covered in Sea Holly which was just coming into bloom.

P451 Sea Holly

I had been told that there was an abundance of Isle of Man Cabbage in these dunes and that was what I was searching for.

1456 b Isle of Man Cabbage1431b Isle of Man Cabbage

                         Isle of Man Cabbage, Coincya nonensis.

The Isle of Man Cabbage is a subspecies of plant in the Brassicaceae family, looking nothing like the vegetable that we eat with our meat and potatoes.

The species is becoming quite rare and is listed as nationally scarce in Britain. It was once abundant in the Isle of man, hence its name but its population has collapsed. The dunes along the Sefton Coast are one of the few places where it can be found. The species needs mobile sand dunes where wind erosion prevents thick vegetation cover giving it a chance to colonise.

As I left the dunes and approached Marine Lake I saw lots of beautiful Orchids.

P 438 Early Marsh OrchidP 440 Early Marsh Orchid

I think they are the Early Marsh Orchid ( Dactyloriza incarnata)

I finished my walk with a stroll along the beach and a chance to chat to the Iron Men.

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Posted in Crosby sand dunes, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline, Wild Flowers | 2 Comments

Natures Medicine Cupboard.

It’s almost the end of June and most of the wild flowers are in bloom. It was time for another stroll along the coast through the Hightown dunes and meadows to see what I could find.

I was pleased to see some Common Comfrey, Symphytum officinale.

Comfrey 2Comfrey 1

A member of the Borage family, Comfrey has been used in herbal medicine for centuries in the belief that it could heal broken bones. Some of the old English names for the plant were Knitbone and Bruisewort.

The plant contains Saponins,tannins and mucilage. However it also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which have been linked to cancer and the herb is now only used externally to treat bruises.

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Alongside the path there was lots of Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare.

Viper's Bugloss 1b

Due to the shape of the flowers which were thought to resemble a snake’s head the plant was once recommended as an antidote to snake venom. There were lots of Six-spot Burnet moths flying around the plants.

Six-spot Burnet Moth 2Six-spot Burnet Moth 1

Six Spot Burnet Moth, mating pair

I wonder what I will find next week ?

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

Cabin Hill Trail

My walk last week was once again a local one, venturing just a few miles up the coast.

I started the walk from Formby Railway Station and after a short section of road walking I joined a path signposted Hightown. I followed this for a short distance before turning right to follow the path that led alongside the perimeter fence of the Altcar Rifle Range. Thankfully they were not firing today and it was all peaceful and quiet.

This led me to Cabin Hill National Nature Reserve. Cabin Hill used to be the largest sand dune on this part of the Sefton coastline and was used as a landmark by shipping heading for Liverpool. A large amount of sand was removed between 1940 and 1960. In 1970 a flood bank was created to protect the low lying land behind the dunes from tidal surges. This created wet slacks on either side which can be a haven for wildlife.

There are a variety of habitats. The mobile dunes, the fixed dunes and the wet slacks. The mobile dunes are home to the rare tiger beetle and the sand lizard, neither of which I have ever seen.

I had expected to see some Grass of Parnassus but could not find any. With hardly any rainfall in the past month the wet slacks had almost dried out. I had to be content with looking at some of my images from a couple of years ago.

Grass of Parnassus

My route then led me through some woodland to reach Albert Road. It was then just a short distance back to Formby Station and a welcome pint before returning home.

Only four miles but good to be out.

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Down on the beach, an update.

Helping the Iron Man

Last week I wrote about how I had seen sand  being removed from around the base of one of the Iron Men. One of the 100 cast iron statues modelled on Antony Gormley that are spread along two miles of the foreshore of Crosby beach.

I noticed another man who was wearing wellingtons and a floppy hat. He was carrying what looked like a huge tripod and was examining the statues. I thought he was perhaps the surveyor. It fact it was Antony Gormley, the artist who was personally supervising the work.

Some of the concrete piles upon which the statues stood had disintegrated and the statues had fallen into the sea mud and become submerged. Antony Gormley was there to oversee the operation. First locating the hidden statues using GPS and then ensuring that they were repositioned correctly.

They should all face towards the sea between 247 degrees west and 275 degrees west and inclined 0.4 of a degree to the horizon. Such precision.

I wish I had been able to chat with him.

The Another Place installation is brilliant and can reflect different moods depending on the state of the weather and the tide.

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This week down the beach

Once again I have stayed local but it has been an interesting few days down on the beach.

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On Sunday as I walked along the beach I spotted a digger by one of the Iron Men and went over to investigate. The man who was directing the driver of the digger informed me that as some of the Iron Men were getting covered by the sand they were going to clear some of the sand away so that the base of the statues were visible.

Returning a couple of days later, I could see the results. The Iron Men were ‘ Made up’ They each had their own paddling pool.

1297 My Paddling Pool

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1279 The Marker Post

The fine weather continued and I was back down there yesterday but walked in the opposite direction through the Hightown Dunes and Meadows.

A splash of colour caught my eye. It turned out to be a clump of poppies amongst the dunes.

1298 Poppies

As I continued along the path beside the perimeter fence of the golf course I nearly trod on a huge caterpillar. I paused until it had safely reached the undergrowth and disappeared from view.

1305 Caqtterpillar

A few yards further on a butterfly landed just in front of me. I think it was a Speckled Wood. I only managed one photo before it flew off into a dense bed of nettles. I would have followed but as I was wearing shorts I think I would have got stung to bits.

Speckled Wood

I did manage to get more shots of the brambles.

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I eventually made my way onto the ‘Blitz Beach. I was looking for the Yellow Horned Poppy but it is still too early in the year.

Someone had built a cairn which made a nice foreground to my photo.

1310 Cairn

I had only walked three miles but it had taken me over two hours. I had spent too much time crawling about in the undergrowth.

I wonder what I will find next weekend ?

Posted in Another Place, Hightown Dunes and Meadows, Natural History, Sefton Coastline | Leave a comment

The Burscough Loop

My walk last weekend started from Burscough and crossed some of the flattest land on the Lancashire Plains. It was based on the ‘Wetlands and Waterways Route’, a 14.5 mile hike but we decided to just do the Burscough Loop. a gentle 7 mile stroll.

We parked at Burscough Bridge railway station and Martin and I started off by passing through a gate at the end of the Northern platform to follow an overgrown path running parallel to the tracks. At the level crossing we turned right to follow Crabtree Lane. We soon left the road and walked along field paths. The area was completely flat but very attractive.

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We had two A4 pages of detailed instructions but as always we soon went wrong, missing an unmarked path to our left. We soon realised our mistake and noticed that the point we were at was on our return route so we decided to continue onwards but do the walk in the reverse direction. We followed signs for the Martin Mere Wetlands Centre and on reaching the perimeter fence we followed the Reedbed  Path. This is part of the free section of Martin Mere Reserve and there were a couple of hides overlooking the mere. We had a look but there was little sign of ant activity on the water.

1261 Reedbeds

Leaving the reserve we followed a quiet country lane to join the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. The weather was beautiful and there were lots of boats passing along the canal. The canal bank and the hedgerows were full of wild flowers.

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1268 Buttercups

We followed the towpath all the way back to our starting point at Burscough Bridge passing come beautiful canal side cottages along the way.

1274 Leeds Liverpool Canal

Our little navigation error worked out well for us as it meant we had a longer section along the canal towpath. We had walked 7 miles with a total ascent of 22 feet. That was crossing over the railway bridge to reach the Northern platform at the start of the walk.

It had been a beautiful warm day and we were thirsty. Not wanting to risk dehydration we were forced to call in at the Saracens Head for a welcome pint, my first since last August.

Happy days

Posted in Lancashire, Walks | 1 Comment

Getting close to nature.

Bee feeding on nectar

I was on my usual walk along the coast when I spotted a bee feeding on nectar. I was soon on my hands and knees trying to get a photo. The bee did not appreciate my being there and got annoyed. It tried to sting me.

Was it a “Cross Bee “ in Crosby !

Posted in Insects, Natural History, Photography, Sefton Coastline | Leave a comment

A stroll round Little Crosby.

22 Dibb Lane

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon so I went for a short walk round the walls of Little Crosby. Starting from Hall Road I followed the newly surfaced Dibb Lane heading for the village of Little Crosby. I then turned right to follow the road with the park wall on my left to reach the Liverpool Lodge gates. These are topped with a pair of rampant lions from the Blundell’s of Crosby family crest.

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As I turned through the kissing gate at the end of the wall I spotted a flower that I did not recognise.

26 Columbine31 Aquilegia vulgaris

I think it is Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris. I normally associate Aquilegia with a garden plant so perhaps this is an escapee.

In herbalism columbine was considered sacred to Venus. Carrying a posy of it was said to arouse the affections of loved ones. Nicholas Culpepper in his famous herbal recommended the seeds should be taken in wine to speed up the process of childbirth. In modern herbal medicine it is still used as an astringent and diuretic.

I continued alongside the walls of the estate and spotted a clump of tiny caterpillars on some stinging nettles. Probably the Small Tortoiseshell. I must go back in a few weeks to investigate,

33 Caterppillars

It was pleasant walking with open fields to my right and I soon reached Back Lane which I followed back to the village and the church,

37 Little Crosby Church

St Mary’s Church was consecrated in 1847 and was built in the early-decorated Gothic style.

from here it was just a short stroll back along Dibb Lane to my car.

Posted in Local History, Natural History, Wild Flowers | 2 Comments