Back to a full week at work but some small wild highlights to warm the soul along the way.
Enjoying the walks home.
Bucolic beauty on the doorstep. I am lucky. But there is one unwelcome visitor on the verge …. Grrrrr….
Never fear I skirted the obstacle – bit too close to the road for my liking – and carried along my (slightly less) merry way.
Yesterday saw me back in the wonderful city of Leeds. The bus and train journeys to and fro are a delight in themselves and I spotted what looked like lapwings and a fallow deer doe with her fawn as we chugged along the Bentham Line across the Yorkshire Dales. It is a super train ride.
My Leeds visit started with a family lunch with No 1 son and daughter-in-law and Munchkin. We re-visited Bundobust a veggie/vegan restaurant that specialises in Yorkshire-Asian food and also creates it’s own speciality beers. We were not disappointed in our recollections of how great the food was, it was delicious. Munchkin – who is almost two and a half – joined us in sampling everything and loved it all. We were hungry when we arrived and tucked in so quickly that I didn’t even stop to take a photo, here’s a pic of our earlier visit to give you a flavour.
After such a wonderful lunch we needed to walk it off. We trotted over to nearby Leeds City Museum to look for wild things. Thanks to the Victorian collectors there was of course a rather sad reminder of how our recent ancestors killed off many wonderful animals to feed their collections. Leeds has taken these poor ‘phantom’ creatures to illustrate how we are now damaging habitats and seeing the loss and decimation of countless more.
It reminded me of the poignant, heart wrenching poem Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote a generation ago in response to the Holocaust of World War II:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
If we watch the destruction of the natural world and do not act how long will it be until nature and the wild world no longer cares for us? Gone a bit heavy there. Think it’s my concern not for my world (I am long in the tooth) but that of our children and their children. Ok, ok here’s what we saw.
So much to contemplate on the journey home. Lucky I had a super book to escape with.
Set in a world almost parallel to Cumbria our anxious heroine Ivy must leave the sanctuary of her home to find her brother Callum in the strange world of Underfell. A real page turner – aimed at I am guessing 8 to 13 year olds – that finds this 64 year old avidly reading on to find out if Ivy succeeds.
Back to my staging post, Carnforth, there was one last Platinum Jubilee mini-celebration I wanted to share. I love the lengths the indie shopkeepers of Carnforth go to to jolly up their high street. There is one shop I always find particularly pleasing, Moore’n’Wife. They certainly excelled themselves for the Queen’s Jubilee. I couldn’t help but smile at their window display, I hope you can’t either.
Here in the UK we are enjoying two days of public holidays and a weekend for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It is wonderful to see so many people out and about enjoying the celebrations but we all need to send a BIG THANKS to the folk who continue to work and make this holiday safe – e.g. in the emergency services – and fun – e.g. those in hospitality and shops. Special thanks to all the supermarket staff who will be busy on checkouts and re-stocking shelves – how else would the street party goers get their victuals?!
But let us go back a wee bit. Last weekend saw me on the X6 Stagecoach bus from Kendal to Barrow to meet up with friend MB for a walk to visit The Port of Barrow. As I alighted at the magnificent town hall, the sun was as you can see in my eyes and it gave a really eerie backdrop to the gothic building.
I toddled on across the deserted car park to find MB – something of a relief as I was beginning to think I had skipped into a zombie apocalypse. After a hearty breakfast, with my over zealous imagination put back into its secured corner of my brain, we set off to walk through the wild industrial sea line around the Port of Barrow.
Barrow is a special place for it’s mix of working industrial butted up to amazing wild places. There is nothing quaint nor gentrified here and that’s why I love it. Barrow is just as it is.
We were surrounded by water much of the time.
As you walk along the causeway towards Roa Island you have the tidal waters to your right and the old Cavendish Dock on your left. Aeronautical history was made here: the dock saw the first British sea plane (the Aero Type D prototype if you are interested) take off in 1911; and the construction of the ill-fated (it snapped in two!) Mayfly, Britain’s first rigid airship.
The waters still reveal glimpses of the past with tangled pieces of metal jutting from the waters as the tides turn to reveal the sites of old jetties. Even on land there are remnants of our recent military past.
You could just about wade through the discarded cans and other detritus (I don’t want to think what this was) of the first Pillbox air raid shelter to catch a glimpse of Piel Island in the distance through the embrasure (fancy word for hole in wall). We took the advice of the graffitied scrawl on the second and gave internal exploration a miss.
It was an amazing walk with so much history. Thank you MB for being a font of knowledge. I definitely want to re-walk this little piece of Barrow or even better cycle it as I have barely touched on some of the intriguing tales this landscape has to offer. As Arnie would say ‘I’ll be back!’.
The 1st June saw the start of ‘30 Days Wild’ an annual celebration of nature run by Wildlife Trusts all around the country. Sadly our Barrow walk was just outside the month of June but nonetheless I have got off to a flying start by …. drum roll please … having my lunch in the beautiful wildlife garden of Cumbria Wildlife Trust at Plumgarths, near Kendal. Isn’t it a joy that nature can be visited in surroundings to suit everyone wherever they live and work? There is somewhere for each of us: be it high fell climbs or cliff walks or sitting quietly in a local park, garden or wildflower meadow.
I just love the living willow fencing. It is beautiful.
Yesterday the sun came out and I spent a happy morning pottering about in my own slightly chaotic garden, enjoying planting the super plants that cousin PF brought over (thank you!) and doing a little judicious snipping and dead heading.
Lucky I got out there when I did as the heavens opened later and today is off to a wet start. Can’t grumble as everything got a good watering. But what about Day 3 you ask? Today I am drawing and sewing bears. Variety as they say is the spice of life!
I hope all is well with your day. Off now to fire up my trusty sewing machine, Jolly Janome. I will be back soon with more 30 Days Wild mini adventures.
Super weekend here at Casa Moke. No 1 Son arrived last Thursday to be swiftly followed by one of my oldest friends GF – who had made her way to the north from her home in the beautiful city of Exeter – on Friday. Good timing too because I had just received my first delivery of tester products from Sainsburys and needed some (un)willing victims erm … tasters to try a couple out with me.
Glad to say both meals – mild vegetable curry and minestrone soup – were a success. Truth be told the curry mix got top marks with No1 Son and I thoroughly enjoying yomping it down while, due to the fact I need new specs and concentration levels, the minestrone soup mix turned into a wholesome lentil stew as I threw in far more of the mix than I should have done. Nonetheless with the aid of a glass of red and crusty baguette the soup/stew was very tasty and filling and went down nutritiously well.
As you can see it was certainly substantial! It turned out to be the perfect meal after a day in the lakes.
Back in a time when cars were a rarity and we were school girls GF and I used to visit the Lakes to stay with my Aunty May. As eager teenagers we found the best means to get around the amazing landscape of Cumbria was …drumroll please …. the 555 bus. And guess what, it still is!
Yesterday we clambered aboard the 555 bought our Explorer tickets (£12 for a full days travel in the Lakes) and set off for Keswick. At almost two hours door to quirky dog-loving Lakeland town it might seem to some a rather long journey but the bus passes through the most stunning scenery and the trip is an absolute stress free pleasure. Without the worry of driving we could enjoy the glorious views from our top deck seats unabated.
There is always something new to see. And this time for me it was Max the Miracle Dog.
Keswick is the most dog friendly town I have ever visited so it should be no surprise that they have this wonderful bronze – put up in summer of 2021 – to celebrate a local furry hero.
During lockdown English Springer Spaniel Max and his four legged buddies Paddy and (Prince) Harry brought comfort and hope to people across the world. These wonderful dogs did what dogs do best, enjoy life. Millions followed their outdoor adventures around their home town of Keswick and in recognition of Max’s ability to bring solace to so many animal welfare charity the PDSA awarded Max the Order of Merit, the first time a pet has ever been given this highly esteemed award.
Sadly (I have just discovered) Max died only a few days ago on 6 April. His Instagram obituary reads ‘Our beautiful Max fell asleep in Manesty Woods today with Paddy and Harry, his two adoring brothers overseeing his onward journey.’ I hope he is chasing celestial butterflies on heavenly Lakeland fells.
To find out more about this outstanding dog and his buddies please have a look at Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maxoutinthelakedistrict_/. On that note there is nothing better that I can do but leave you with a dog that gave so many heart when they most needed it. Max may you rest in happiness.
Happy world frog day! No frog-y visitors today in the back porch, I expect they are busy putting up the water lily bunting and getting ready for an evening of partying … ribbit…
For me it has been a weekend of slowing down after a busy working week. Since the end of Covid lockdowns (fingers crossed) I enjoy sociable Saturdays, a chance to catch up with much missed friends and touch base with family. This week I was delighted my good friend KS could come over – with the beautiful elderly cocker spaniel that is Bagel – for plenty of chatting, food and crafting. Bliss.
KS and her husband are spending this year – in addition to their day jobs – fundraising for Cumbria’s children’s hospice, Jigsaw. I am full of awe, they both have incredibly stressful jobs yet they are dedicated in their efforts to support this special charity.
On Friday 15 April KS is organising a coffee and cake morning at Melmerby village hall. Along with refreshments there are stalls including one with woolly makes. I am behind the curve here, I need to get cracking on my crochet baby boots, but KS is of course on this (as well as organising the whole event). She finished a gorgeous baby matinee jacket while she was here along with starting a second knitted baby bootee. So if you live in or are visiting the stunning Eden Valley and the village of Melmerby on Good Friday do drop in on KS at the village hall and bring plenty of cash!
Now a quick crafty round-up from me. I paired chatting, listening and cooking with Lucy at Attic 24’s crochet-along (CAL) Harbour Blanket. I am only just finishing Week 2 of the original CAL but no matter the easy rhythm of the ripple pattern make it the perfect accompaniment to being sociable. I might just get it finished for next Winter. Here’s how it looks today:
In other crafty news: my polar bear panel has now been joined by panda.
Think the bears are enjoying the company.
Counter Intuitively – because the weather is fabulous – I decided to carry Slow Down Saturday into Slow Down Some More Sunday and enjoy tea, leftovers and books. I don’t know about you but I always have a few books on the go. This suits my restless … I mean butterfly mind. Off the shelves this weekend are:
Ed Winters is often known as Earthling Ed and what I love about him is his gentle discursive way of talking to people about veganism. As this book shows he knows his stuff and references all the research he has used. Of course while Ed appears a gentle soul what he talks and writes about is often violent and brutal. I squeamishly read through the section on how meat, milk, eggs and fish get to our plates and confess I am actually relieved to be on the section devoted to the environment! Even though I don’t think that will be an easy ride either.
Pleased to have a little bit of light relief I smiled at the book mark I am using. A much treasured reminder of my friends’ wonderful bookshop, Fireside Bookshop, that has recently relocated to Stroud in Gloucestershire. This is my favourite of favourite bookshops please have look see either online or in person. The selection is superb and contains specialist rarities, many of my books on archaeology and ancient history are from Fireside.
Ooh I hear the gentle whisper of a fritillary’s wings. Book number two:
I have loved Kate Atkinson since reading ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ years ago. She has the rare gift of conveying how life changing events occur in a heartbeat. She has certainly given me a few ‘I didn’t see that coming’ moments. Book three:
Inspired by our recent visit to the Quaker Tapestry here in Kendal and sadly by the way of the world – in Ukraine and the many other war-torn parts of the globe – I thought I would again re-visit the ‘religion’ of my English grandmother, Quakerism. This famously pacifist community seemed to me the antidote to the violence of how we humans often speak and act.
It is very difficult to pin down what a Quaker is. I recently heard that if you ask four Quakers what a Quaker is, you will get five different answers. Love a group with a sense of humour! I am agnostic, I just don’t know what (if anything) is ‘out there’. But I do love the idea of a kind way of life where there is good (God if that is your belief) in everyone. I will keep on reading but while I read I must eat, so to my last books;
These two well thumbed cookbooks will help me use up everything in my veg box. It’s looking like that remaining Savoy Cabbage will be roasted with peppercorns … yum.
It was perfect weather for me and friend JG to carry on the project to visit Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport and Shanks’ Pony. And on our visit to South Walney yesterday Shanks’ Pony was certainly key!
We started with the 7am X6 Stagecoach bus from Kendal Bus Station (I snuck on a couple of stops later) our first and longest bus journey of the day. It took 1 hour 40 minutes to reach Barrow Town Hall. This used to be my daily journey to work, believe me I was having flashbacks, no surprise that back in those days I finished many a sock, glove and a particularly important baby blanket on my commute to and from the office!
Once at Barrow we crossed over the road and hopped on our next bus, the number 1 to Biggar Bank. We got off at Biggar Bank Biggar Garth (Carr Lane) and then the walking began. As always in this neck of the woods people were tremendously friendly and helpful. I have always loved this about the people of Barrow and Walney. Spotting our walking boots a passerby immediately warned us of flooding on one of the routes to South Walney and pointed us in the safest direction and wished us a good walk.
Off we set to a magical reserve of eerie but beautiful magnitude, home to rare and wonderful wildlife, wide majestic seascapes and the whisper of Piel Castle on nearby Piel Island (if you squint you can just see it).
We thought we had a three mile walk to the reserve but it soon became obvious that we had a little-ways further to go, 5 miles infact. JG has a gizmo that measures such things as well as creating maps of our route.
Cool, eh? The road ahead was flat but there were quite a few vehicles and the occasional horse. At least the cars were slowed by travelling through Biggar village which gave me a break from leaping on to the verges.
Not yet March but I saw my first lamb – looked very young – as we tootled on our way.
Must be hardy sheep here on Walney. We had arrived on a good day but it is known locally as ‘Windy Walney’ because of the ferocious winds that whip in from the Irish Sea. Walney Island is certainly a place that is open to the elements. Interestingly we spotted a Barn Owl on the way (sorry but I am as slow a photographer as I am walker) clutching it’s breakfast. We learned later that they are stalking in daylight because the recent heavy rains have limited their hunting. Wonderful to see this beautiful bird (not such a welcome sight for its prey).
As the ‘three’ miles stretched out we saw hopeful signs that we were nearing the reserve.
We arrived to be greeted by two kind and friendly volunteers and shown into the cabin where we were offered a hot drink and could have a look at the artefacts and information about the reserve. There is a car park at South Walney so you do not have to walk there and yahoo there is also a toilet!!!!
With my feet holding up reasonably well at this point and JG being a keen walker we opted for the Red Route (3 miles) which covers the whole reserve. There are also the Blue Route (2 miles) and Yellow Route (1 mile). The signage was brilliant and the colour coded posts kept us to the path – this is vitally important to the birds and other wildlife that breed here.
You really feel you are getting the best brine filled fresh air and I still have a healthy glow – i.e. I am red – from the light wind and sun. There were useful information boards to read. I had not realised that there is a working oyster farm on the island, and definitely did not know that the oysters go on little excursions around Morecambe Bay.
The sea is ever present. Cumbria’s only grey seal colony resides on South Walney’s beaches. They can be watched from the hides or from the comfort of your own home via the Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s seal web-cam. Amazing to see. We didn’t manage to glimpse the seals (I really must get some binoculars!) but the views were tremendous.
Several hides pepper the reserve affording shelter and great views of the landscapes and the wildlife. We utilised a couple to watch the wild world go by while enjoying a cuppa and our packed lunches. Happy days.
South Walney is also home to some precious dunescape habitats which are vital living spaces for many species including common lizards and other sand-loving creatures. Dunes should have areas of exposed sand but troublingly they are increasingly being covered by vegetation that drives out the usual sand dune wildlife. I learned dunes are the most threatened habitat in Europe for biodiversity loss. Thankfully at South Walney Cumbria Wildlife Trust have embarked on a project to restore the fixed dunes and are creating and improving the dune ponds.
For our last little lap of the reserve we walked along the newly installed boardwalk, admiring the views and also the fun hide with all it’s peep holes.
With a long walk back to the bus stop (my feet were twinging) it was time to leave but we grabbed a quick chat with the fabulous, friendly volunteers and the South Walney reserve officer, Jake. They were all so knowledgeable and we learned a lot from meeting them. What a super way to end our visit. Thanks Team South Walney.
With spirits still high from our visit to the reserve and spotting what we thought were a curlew and a little egret en route we set off on the walk back to Biggar Bank. Sadly for me it was soon obvious that my poor old feet were suffering and I confess quite a bit of this journey was jolly painful, a bit like walking on sharp red-hot needles.
My comfortable walking distance is around 6 miles and my absolute maximum was 8 miles. On this excursion I had thought I would push that up to 9 miles but when JG’s machine had done it’s calculations we had actually walked …. drum roll please … 13.2 miles. Oh my aching feet. Once I had taken my boots off, peeled off my socks (I thought a bit of my feet would come with them, I was not far wrong) I could see the full horror wrought to my tootsies. OOOOOUCH! All my own fault for not checking the distances more carefully.
Luckily super walker JG was fine, for her this was one of her longer training walks but nothing out of the ordinary. I am now carefully teetering around the house with feet that would not be out of place in ‘The Mummy’ they are so well strapped up with plasters.
None of this sullied the day. South Walney is exceptional and I would recommend a visit without hesitation. But if you want to bus it be prepared for a very long walk to and from the reserve.
What a beautiful day it has been. The weather here in Cumbria was crisp but dry and clear. The early morning sun gave the view from my office window a rosy hue.
As the day went on and the weather held I looked forward to my homeward walk. Even tho’ almost a mile of it is along ‘The Verge’!
I enjoyed the wonderful views to my right
The light was glorious. I could almost forget the cars whizzing along the road next to me. But you know Kendal there is always a hill to climb, and here is the slowest but longest I encounter on my way back.
Just think of the calories… pufff … the strength and stamina building … oxygen please!
Oh the joy of those downhill horizons with home in sight.
Journey complete it was great to see my veg box had arrived. Now it is kettle on and recipe books out for things to make with those fantastic veggies.
Have a good evening and if you have super weather like us at the moment I hope you have chance to enjoy it.
I hope your New Year is getting off to a good start. For me it is back to the normal run of things. This no criticism it is the mundane that allows some occasions to be cherished as special and there is also comfort to be had in the routine. I am happy to be ‘bored’ it gives me chance to reflect, look ahead or just switch off.
Off course not all reflections are helpful. Yesterday as I toddled into town to get some chores done I pondered: how come I am Cumbrian yet I hate walking up hills? Who said that?! I will have you know I am r-e-l-a-t-i-v-e-l-y fit and only just on the cuddly side.
My walk starts with a short uphill section, puff wheeze:
Followed by a quick stroll across a field with a long (dare I say it dull) walk UP the next road …. can….n’t….sp…ea…ck …gasp:
Obviously to my Cumbrian kith and kin I don’t know a steep road when I climb one:
Anyhoo after pondering the imponderable (you at the back again! I said ‘cuddly’), and feeling much warmer than when I set off, I arrived in town. Food shopping out of the way I wended my way to my favourite store, Reticule.
I am about to embark on a new quilt which I am sewing for granddaughter Peanut for … wait for it … next Christmas! Do I get a prize for being the first person you know to mention the C word this year?!
Peanut is the only one of my three granddaughters not to have a quilt. Here are Munchkin and Shrub’s:
I had not embraced my inner quilter when Peanut was born. I am making up for lost time. Peanut is a keen supporter of Animals Asia so I decided her quilt should be dedicated to bears. As there are 8 species of bear to which I can add a few sub-species I am going to create twelve panels each devoted to a different type of bear. Ursus Ianuarii is the polar bear.
I had made a small sketch:
I had then checked my fabric stash but came up with only one useful piece … erm dark grey/gray. But with this visit to Reticule, a chat with the super helpful owner Jane, I am polar bear fabric ready.
The loveliness of a walk into the ‘Auld grey (flippin’ heck not that word again!) town’ of Kendal – hills not withstanding – did not end there. Friend ACk had given me the gift of a book token for Christmas and it was burning a hole in my imagination, what new book would be joining the shelves, tables or other flat surfaces at Casa Moke?
Missing our independent bookshops though I am, it is still enjoyable to visit Waterstones (the UK’s ubiquitous seller of tomes) and browse their two floors of stock. Having cried at the beauty of Madeline Miller’s love story ‘Song of Achilles’ last year and loving Natalie Haynes BBC radio classical comedy ‘Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics’ I went for a Natalie Haynes’ novel “The Children of Jocasta” which was recommended by Madeline Miller. Win win.
Adding a 2022 diary to my purchases rounded off my sortie onto the high street. Bearing two bags of veg and other essentials I walked home to enjoy a relaxing read and contemplative updating of the new diary… but with arms at least a few inches longer, blast those hills!
While the Mexican Tinga (spicy lentil sauce) simmers on the hob I will relate a lovely day out walking with friend JG.
As you know we are attempting all the Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport. Last time we visited Foulshaw Moss and today we went to visit Craggy Woods in Staveley by the 555 Stagecoach bus from Kendal.
Staveley is a friendly large village and behind it lies some beautiful native woodlands. I have recently sponsored three trees there – for my granddaughters – through Cumbria Wildlife Trust as part of a project extending Craggy Woods through some newly acquired land to join with Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and create a larger Staveley Woodland. It is a rare opportunity and well thought through. If you want to join in the fun here is the link.
We started well by catching the 555 Stagecoach bus at our respective stops and after I got over the news that Craggy Woods is hilly (the clue I suppose is in the name) we arrived at the Wood.
Initially we walked up the road that skirted Craggy (it looked steep and muddy in there) and reached the top of the hill to look across the woodland. However we thought we were missing out on the full Craggy Wood experience so retraced our steps and went back to the gate. I think the map that JG created captured our rather strange back-and-forth route.
Through the gate we went and .. it was mud-gate meets fallen tree-gate! Storms Arwen and Barra had certainly wreaked havoc. Broken branches littered the paths and yesterday’s heavy rainfall added the hazard of slippy slidey mud. But as the book – ‘We Are Going On A Bear Hunt’ – says ‘We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We have to go through it’. And so through it we went. To me it looked like the battle of the Somme thankfully without the tragic loss of life, although there were times when I thought I might be a gone-r.
Friend JG is like a mountain goat so I knew we were in trouble when she was clutching tree stumps and grasping on to rocks as we made our way up, across and down. Thanks to all the fallen branches I managed to use one as a make-shift staff and steadied my wobbly self through the descent.
It did afford many a laugh (the hysterical sort) as we descended from the top of the wood and I am really glad we did it. Craggy Wood is beautiful even if damaged at present. Sadly none of my pictures captured the muddiness of our walk, but they do show some of the storm damage and the magnificent – if misty views – from the hilltop.
It also revealed some glorious moss and bracket fungi (possibly Birch Polypore … but I am no expert) who just seemed to scream ‘photo opportunity’.
We had a fabulous if slippery walk and it was good to see where the new saplings will be planted in 2022. I think we can say that we covered Craggy Wood. Satellites don’t lie.
Having walked down the last few steep fields while wishing we had sheep hooves we reached the River Kent and Barley Bridge. The river was in full spate and quite stunning.
We briefly sojourned in the pretty church of St James’s with it’s William Morris east window
before reaching the Elderado of any walk around Staveley, Wilf’s!
Wilf’s is famous among locals, it is a friend to cyclists and walkers and serves hearty fare. We felt we had earned our veggie burgers, mine with vegan ‘cheese’, and we tucked in with relish. Yummy. Perfect end to a perfect New Year’s eve. Thanks JG for being in charge of maps and statistics: we walked 3.62 miles with 520’ of elevation.
Happy New Year to all. I hope 2022 is a good one for you.
It is time for a new quest. Some of you may remember back in 2018 friend JG and I attempted to visit all the Herstory exhibitions held in the museums around Cumbria by public transport. Can’t remember? have a look here if you want a reminder. It was a great reason to travel around the county, we went to museums I had never visited before and learnt a lot about the women of this corner of north west England.
Now its edging into winter what do we decide to do? Go outdoors, ‘cos we are sensible sorts…, and start a new quest to visit all 37 of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport! Crickey, where are my thermals?!
there was a field opposite but now – one pandemic and many missed bus trips later – it has become an ‘executive’ housing estate.
Skimming over that – stop sobbing M! – as you can see the weather is glorious and I have a bus to look out for, the 11:08 am Stagecoach X6 Kendal to Barrow which should already have JG on board. She was there and ticket bought I settled down for the short hop to our stop next to the entrance to Foulshaw Moss nature reserve.
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust guidebook tells us why lowland raised mires like Foulshaw Moss are so important, they are one of Europe’s most threatened habitats. In the UK 94% of this habitat has been destroyed. To go to Foulshaw is to visit a rare landscape and feel thankful to see it being restored.
We were the only humans visiting the reserve but we were not alone. Although from my photography from the first ‘hide’ you would think we were!
Wait, who’s this little fellow?
Not sure what s\he is, answers on a postcard please. Sparrow? Reed bunting? But truly there were SO SO many birds. We saw all sorts including a couple of pheasants … or maybe corncrakes (you can tell our bird watching skills are honed, cough)… and a magnificent Great Spotted Woodpecker that settled briefly on a feeder. I am afraid my rendering of this bird in pencil and Biro does not do it justice.
We could have happily stayed in this ‘hide’ all day watching the comings and goings. It was hard to tear ourselves away but the moss called. And what a call it is when you start out along the boardwalks.
The moss is wet and small pools of water show that it is soaking up the water and keeping wet just as it should be. In addition to the surviving mire Cumbria Wildlife Trust are restoring the moss lands into the area that had been planted over with trees for the war effort back in the mid-twentieth century.
Thankfully nowadays there is a lot of talk about protecting and planting trees for their carbon capturing qualities but much less is said about the carbon munching qualities of mires like Foulshaw Moss. I have read that Cumbrian peatland stores five times as much carbon as all of Cumbria’s trees put together. This habitat not only sustains a myriad of amazing plant and wildlife it helps keep us alive too! Gotta love it.
One word of warning, The decay of the plant life – like the famous sphaghnum moss – is what creates peat. It is a slow process and it can take 1,000 years to create 1m of peat so please please use peat-free composts like Dalefoot wool composts (other brands are available) for your gardens.
The board walks make this a wonderful habitat for everyone to visit and enjoy. There is also a fantastically (deliberately) wobbly bridge that I know my granddaughters will love.
As we walked around the reserve it was so beautifully sunny and dare I say warm that we even saw a couple of common darter dragonflies. Yes you know it, they were here and gone before I had wrestled my iPad from my backpack (time to start thinking about a smart phone with a good camera function).
While the moss is reclaiming its home the dying trees give it an eerie yet photogenic feel. Nature however abhors waste and the tree stumps play host to amazing fungi.
We had such a super time exploring the moss I was sad to leave but the days are shorter and we needed to try and find the elusive A590 underpass so that we wouldn’t have to cross the scary, busy and fast road. I was empathising with hedgehogs at the mere prospect of this. But hey! Those little spiny mammals much loved by readers of Beatrix Potter’s “Mrs Tiggywinkle” do have an underpass! Good stuff.
We however were not so lucky. After following what I thought might be a path on the map but wasn’t – it turned out to be the dash-dot line for electricity pylons (shocking) – we had to re-trace our steps. This left only one course of action – other than dive headlong across the road – we had to navigate the verge (you know how much I l-urve a verge).
We shouted over the traffic and I wrestled with several hawthorns – why did I think putting a crash barrier between myself and the cars would be safer? – much to the amusement of JG who had been bolder and walked traffic side of the barrier. But finally, trying not to trip over the detritus thrown from passing vehicles, we made it to the underpass. Yeah!
It was worth being entangled by those hawthorns. Safely on the other side of the road we enjoyed a throughly lovely walk in the golden autumnal light following the cycle-way to our bus stop for home at Gilpin Bridge.
What a splendid day. We walked 5.5 miles, JG measured it. A very short walk for JG but perfect for me, I am done at about 6! Here’s where we walked … I think!
Good news! My lovely MP Tim Farron sent me a copy of the reply he received to his request from our local bus company. Yes there is indeed a request stop on my outward journey (not shown on the website so no wonder the driver didn’t know) and the drivers have been reminded of this. Yahoo!!! I and others can use the bus to get to lovely little Plumgarths on Crook Road from Kendal. No scary, wibbly wobbly walk needed.
Unfortunately there is no corresponding stop for Plumgarths travelling from Windermere towards Kendal. So there will still be a wibbly wobbly walk home. BUT hero that he is Mr Farron has not finished. He is pushing for the infrastructure (I suspect a crossing) to make a safe stop on the opposite side of the road for the return journey. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime I think I may have to dust off these beauties…
No 1 Daughter sent me a congratulations card for the new job. She couldn‘t have chosen a more apt card.
The card is both a hint as to my new employer and also a bit of telepathy on No1 Daughter‘s part. I have – unbeknownst to her – registered for a Cumbria Wildlife Trust online event entitled „Why did the hedgehog cross the road?“. I have previously enjoyed a Cumbria Wildlife event on bees and pollinators in Cumbria. It was fab. I am really looking forward to seeing what Mrs Tiggywinkle is getting up to.
P.S. for the one reader expecting a cyclist’s rant, apologies for it‘s non-appearance. The rant was long, oh so long, and dull, watching paint dry would be far more exciting. I decided it would have been completely self indulgent to inflict it on the lovely readers of this here blog … but the next time a motorist beeeeps at me for no good reason …. Grrrrr. ….. Mx