A walk through Ainsdale Dunes with Green Sefton.

This morning I joined a small group of people for a walk through Ainsdale Dunes, led by John from ‘Green Sefton’

John pointed out many of the species of wild flowers that inhabit the dunes and gave us lots of information about the dune system.

Here are a few of the images. I hope I have identified the plants correctly.

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Pyramidal Orchid.

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Bee Orchid.

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Dune Helleborine.

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White Everlasting Pea.

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Northern Marsh Orchid.

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Marsh Helleborine.

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Early Marsh Orchid.

The various types of Marsh Orchid tend to hybridise making precise identification difficult.

We stopped by a couple of ponds and were hoping to see some dragonflies but the weather was dull and none were in flight. Better luck next time.

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A snow storm in June.

A snow storm in June!. Not really but it looked like it. I was up at Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve to witness the irruption of the White Satin Moth. Thousands of these day flying moths emerge together and walking amongst them is just like being in a snowstorm.

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The moths are very beautiful with their snowy white wings and black and white banded legs.

They are quite rare in the UK and Ainsdale is one of the few places where they breed. The area is very localised with the moths found amongst the Creeping Willow.

Most of the moths were on the wing but I did spot a few caterpillar and pupa.

11. Caterpillar of White Satin MothD. Pupa

I thought I was there quite early in the day ( 9.00am) but with the warm weather I was too late to catch one emerging from its pupa and expanding its wings. Here is an image taken last year.

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The males have only one thing on their mind – find a mate.

Soon the female is ready to deposit her eggs and the whole cycle begins again.

514. White Satin Moth depositing eggs

I will be back up at Ainsdale at the weekend. This time I want to take pictures of the orchids.

Posted in Ainsdale Local Nature Reserve, Moths, Natural History | 1 Comment

Crosby Rambling Club visit Coniston.

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On Sunday I joined my friends from Crosby Rambling Club on a visit to Coniston in the Lake District. There were 12 of us in the group and we followed the walk that Roger and I had done the reccee for last Wednesday.

It was warm then but today was even hotter. We set off along the Walna Scar Road and by the time we reached the top of the tarmac section we we were all ‘glowing’.Once on the open fells the gradient eased and it was pleasant walking.

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There were one or two harder bits and it was always up!

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The weather conditions were changing. To the south looking over the estuary we had clear skies, but ahead over the mountains clouds were forming.

We reached Torver Bridge and decided to stop there for lunch sitting beside the beck.

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I was just tucking into my sandwich when I felt the first drops of rain. It was nothing really. By the time I had put my waterproof on it had stopped raining. But it is always best to be prepared.

We retraced our steps to the junction of paths and then headed down towards Torver. Just before we reached the quarry we met a couple coming the other way. They were wearing flip-flops and carrying a towel. We watched them trying to find a way down to the water to go swimming. How had they even managed to get there wearing flip-flops?

We made our way down to Torver and then crossed Torver Common to reach the jetty.

The final couple of miles were an easy stroll along the shore of Coniston Water.

Crossing a bridge over a beck I saw a flash of brilliant blue. It was a banded or beautiful demoiselle, and it settled on a rock by the water. I quickly got my trusty Lumix camera out. I was at least 10 feet away but it was worth a try. This is my image.

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It made the whole day worthwhile.

Back in Coniston we had plenty of time to chat and enjoy a pint of Cumbria Way Bitter.

We were just about to, leave for the coach when the ‘A’ Party arrived. They had climbed the Coniston Old Man and were exhausted. We allowed them extra time to enjoy a drink before our long journey home.

A good day. 9.5 miles. 1600 ft of ascent.

Posted in Crosby Rambling Club, Insects, Lake District, Natural History, Photography, Walks | 1 Comment

Sitting pretty above Coniston Water.

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This was the view at our lunch stop on Wednesday. Leaning against a flat rock with the sun on our face and Coniston Water spread out below us, what could be better?

I was up in the Lake District with Roger doing a reccee for Crosby Rambling Club. Roger is due to lead the ‘B’ party walk on Sunday. We set off from Coniston and began the steep climb to join the Walna Scar Road. It was hard going but the reward was the views that were opening up looking towards Wetherlam and Swirl How.

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After passing through a gate and the parking area we left the tarmac behind.

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There were few people about and those that were seemed to be heading on the path leading to Goats Water on route for the Old Man of Coniston or Dow Crag. We had other plans and continued to climb up the Walna Scar road.

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We walked up to Torver Bridge and Roger decided that it might be fun to continue as far as Walna Scar Pass and maybe take in Brown Pike from where we could look down into the Duddon Valley.

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It seemed a good idea at the time but half an hour later when I was beginning to struggle. I was changing my mind. The top of the pass was probably only 20 minutes away but to get to the top of Brown Pike and back would probably have added on an extra hour. Had Brown Pike been one of the ‘Wainwright’s I would have gone for it but we decided to turn back and have our lunch.

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It was now back down the winding road to the intersection of paths where we could turn right and head down towards Torver. It was a pleasant path, sometimes passing through spoil heaps from the old quarry workings but never far from the tumbling Torver Beck.

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We paused by the deep hole, the site of an old quarry that had a waterfall cascading into it  .The area was fenced off for safety reasons but a couple of people had found a way down and were about to go wild swimming. It was probably quite dangerous as the water temperature would have been very low.

We made our way down to Torver and then walked along a beautiful path across Torver Common to reach the lake at Torver Jetty.

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Several people were sitting on the jetty waiting for the ferry which was due in 10 minutes, but catching that would be cheating. We had only got a couple of miles to go walking along the Cumbria Way long distance footpath.

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It was easy walking along the shore of Coniston Water but it was very hot and I was thirsty. I had plenty of fluid with me but it was slightly warm and did not quench my thirst. We passed a camping site and by the shop we saw a sign with those magic words ‘Wall’s Ice Cream sold here’ We were soon inside and I bought an Orange Refresher Ice Lolly, or Lolly-Ice to those of you in Liverpool.

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Suitably refreshed and with a new spring in our step we soon covered the final mile into Coniston.

After gratefully changing out of our boots we headed for the Crown Pub for a welcome pint. What better to order than a pint of Cumbria Way bitter. We had been walking a short section of that pathway.

We ended up walking just over 10 miles which may be a bit too much for the ‘B’ party considering the amount of ascent. We can easily tweak it to knock off a mile. All we need on Sunday is for the sun to shine and hope that the shop has not run out of ice cream.

Another great day in the Lake District.

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Coincidence

Barcos Rabelos, Porto. MM 212. Crosbyman

This is my image of a Barcos Rabelos, one of the traditional boats used to transport the Port Wine down the Douro River.

I entered it in this months Monochrome Madness Challenge run by Leanne Cole, an Australian photographer. The theme was ‘Boats’

It was selected but imagine my surprise when I saw an almost identical image submitted by Crow Canyon Journal. We must have stood literally yards apart. What a coincidence.

Posted in Monochrome, Monochrome Madness, Photography | Leave a comment

Shattered on Fairfield

Fairfield Horseshoe

Last week I was walking in the Lake District with three of my friends and we did the classic Fairfield Horseshoe. Eight peaks and eleven miles, a challenging walk. Half way round and I was shattered. The previous evening I had been looking at Wainwright’s Book One, The Eastern Fells. I read my notes in the margin, the first time that I did this walk was April 1988. No wonder it seemed harder.

Starting from Ambleside we decided to do the walk in the anticlockwise direction making Low Pike,1657 ft our first objective. As we approached a gate leading to the open fell we noticed some sheep lying in the shade. Unusually they did not move even though we were quite close. They knew that ‘in the shade’ was the best place to be. It was going to be a very hot day.

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In his book, Wainwright writes about the ‘rock step’ on the approach to Low Pike, but there was no need for concern. The main path skirts round it to the right. We kept pausing, not just to catch our breath but to take in the view looking back over Windermere.

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We now followed the wall to High Pike, 2155 ft. A steady 2/3 of a mile with 600 ft of ascent.

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As we gained height the views opened up.

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Our next objective was Dove Crag, 2603ft. An easy walk on grass. 470 ft of ascent with a slight depression half way along.

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A good place to stop for lunch.

The next peak, Hart Crag, 2698 ft was just 3/4 of a mile and then we headed up towards Fairfield.

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The summit of Fairfield, 2863 ft is very flat and can be confusing in mist. But there were no problems today, conditions were perfect. We could walk along the north east edge and enjoy the view looking down on Cofa Pike and across to St Sunday Crag.

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We rested for a short time at the summit but no sooner had we sat down than we were surrounded by flies. Most seemed interested in my piece of cake. I’m sure I ate one.

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We now headed south along the ridge towards Great Rigg, 2513 ft. It was downhill nearly all the way.

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We continued on past Heron Pike, 2003 ft, to reach Nab Scar our last peak of the day at 1450 ft. There was a good view looking down on Rydal Water.

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The descent from Nab Scar was very steep and rocky. You had to really watch where you placed your feet, especially with tired legs.

Once down it was an easy stroll through Rydal Park and along the road back to our car.

Eight Wainwrights, 11 miles and 4370 feet of ascent. It had taken us just over seven hours. No wonder I felt shattered.

On the way back we called in at the Eagle and Child in Staveley. It is wonderful how a pint of Hawkeshead bitter can restore your spirits.

Posted in Lake District, Landscape, Photography, Walks | 3 Comments

A visit to Valldemossa.

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We caught the bus from Soller to Valldemossa following the C-710 as it twists and turns round the many hairpin bends high above the coast.

Valldemossa is the highest town in Mallorca and is dominated by the Real Cartuja, the Royal Carthusian Monastery. Much of its popularity as a tourist attraction is due to the fact that George Sand and her companion, the composer Frederic Chopin lived here for a few months in 1838-39.

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The church is Neo-classical in style with a Latin Cross ground plan with a barrel vault and a cupola over the transept.

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Above the high alter there is Our Lady of Sorrow with the body of Christ and the descent from the cross. The altarpiece is crowned with an image of St Catalina Thomas, the only saint to have been born in Mallorca.

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Leading off from the church we came to the old Carthusian Pharmacy, founded by the monks at the beginning of the 18th century.

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I spotted an old Pill  making machine. I can remember using one of those when I did my apprenticeship back in the early 1960’s.

On the shelves there was a fantastic collection of ceramic jars decorated with plants, animals and figures.

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The remainder of the complex is devoted to Chopin and George Sands.

A separate section is devoted to Archduke Ludwig Salvator who lived on the island.

Before leaving the monastery we listened to a piano recital, Chopin of course.

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Back outside we wandered round the narrow cobbled streets of Valldemossa. Everywhere you turned you were reminded of Saint Catalina Thomas. A glazed plaque depicting scenes from her life stood outside every doorway.

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We made our way down Carrer Uetam towards the birthplace of Saint Catalina.

835 Saint Catalina Thomas

Saint Catalina Thomas was born on the 1st of May 1531 in the village of Valldemossa. From a young age she showed a devotion to having moments of contemplative prayer, and because of this God gave her many mystic gifts. She contemplated many visions of the Saints, as well as visions of struggles with the Devil who wanted to separate her from God’s will.

When she became an orphan she went to live in the house of her relatives known as Son Gallard and in 1552 she entered the Monastery of Saint Magdalene in the city of Palma. She died in 1574 and she was beatified by Pope Pius VI in 1792.

Her birthplace is now a shrine.

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After our explorations it was time for coffee before our journey back to Soller.

The weather had improved and it was a lot warmer. Even the statues on the balcony were wearing sunhats.

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Back at our hotel it was time to relax and enjoy a beer with my friends.

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