My wild week

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….

How did I get planted across the ‘path’? Answer: some people are thoughtless!

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.

Oh my those okra fries!

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.

With a reminder of the times we are living in.

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.

Moke x

Get buzzing

These 30 Days Wild can take you on adventures large and small.

At the weekend I met up with No1 Daughter and two of my granddaughters, Peanut and Goggins (formerly known as Shrub), in the bustling old Yorkshire market town of Skipton. On the way Jubilee bunting was everywhere. Not surprisingly Carnforth had put on a good show.

And when I got to Skipton, Holy Trinity Church was bedecked with beautiful floral decorations. Whoever created these displays is truly talented.

All gorgeous and cheerful but not really wild I know. Our wild experience for Saturday was a walk through Skipton Castle Wood. There are a few walks through the wood but as we had Goggins in the buggy we opted for an easier one.

Skipton Castle Wood is leased to the Woodland Trust and it is a super alternative to busy Skipton market, although the market is another good reason to visit the town! We started the walk from the saw-mill entrance. There are some narrow stretches and a few stairs that would make it tricky unless you had help with the buggy and makes it impossible by wheelchair. However there are alternative entrances that are suitable.

For the first part of the walk Skipton Castle looms above you. No doubt to remind us of our place.

The girls really enjoyed the walk. Goggins thought it was a hoot especially when big sister Peanut put flowers in her hair.

Peanut also joined in the archery!

We had a lovely day full of lots of laughter. A superb Wild Day.

Back home the wildness has not stopped it has just shrunk in scope. I am enjoying the little things like listening for birdsong and seeing what is growing along the unkempt verges en route home from work.

Today I was based in my home office and when I popped out to empty my veg peelings into my compost I couldn’t believe the sound of buzzing that was coming from the mock orange hedge that surrounds my compost bin. When I stepped back it was alive with bumblebees – at a quick count I saw over 20 – collecting nectar along with a couple of butterflies who had come along to join the party.

I tried to snap pictures of the bees but it is a bit like “Where’s Wally”, can you see the bees? They were there, honest.

Shows you don’t have to go far to have a wild encounter. I am so pleased that this beautiful shrub is supporting so many pollinators. It was a wonderful thing to see and hear.

Hope you are enjoying your own mini wild adventures.

Moke x

Sewing Bee … bzzz

Hi All

I am still getting used to being in full-time paid work as you might guess by the sporadic nature of these posts. But never fear behind the scenes I am still keeping time for crafting. The last few months have seen more sewing than yarn crafts. And now we here in the UK are into the full flow of the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee my sewing endeavours have been given a push.

Pre Sewing Bee I was working slowly but surely through a special quilt for oldest granddaughter Peanut and also managed to finish a top for myself, the Merchant & Mills Ellesworth Shirt. This pattern was marked as intermediate and did test me in places, does anyone love a placket? But I am very happy with the finished item, placket, binding, cuffs, French seams and all. Nonetheless I will make it longer in future as it ends in just the place my mother called your avoirdupois (that is your heaviest bit!). Hey ho, this lovely shirt will be paired over long loose sleeveless dresses so my ‘avoirdupois’ won’t matter. Here’s my tale of the Ellesworth in pictures:

Sorry no completed shirt picture. When I feel confident – you might be waiting a while – I will have a picture taken in the finished item.

Before more sewing, there was a special first birthday for youngest granddaughter Shrub. You would never have known she had chickenpox. Surrounded by her cousins and family she rose to the occasion and was a perfect hostess. I think the cake (best cake ever) might have helped!

One happy little one year old ensued. But did I mention the cake?!

It was a lovely weekend bringing all the family together. Thank you to No1 Daughter and Son-in-law and everyone who came.

Back at home, this weekend I gave myself a Sewing Bee Saturday Challenge. On the Sewing Bee I always marvel at how quickly they make things. Sometimes the cutting out takes me as long as they have to come up with a finished garment. But in for a penny in for a pound I decided to find an old duvet cover – it was recycling week on the Bee- and make a child’s jacket in an afternoon.

I ratched through the airing cupboard and sure enough right at the bottom was a single duvet cover – I think it was my mum’s! – one tsunami of clothes later I had my cloth. Enough to make the Burda child’s jacket. Head down and away I went. Here I go ..

All done in 5 and a half hours. It would have been faster but Jolly Janome threw a wobbly at the middle buttonhole which led to disaster and about thirty minutes of tears. Despite the Frankenstein (sob) buttonhole and repair that resulted I was happy with the pattern and the recycling of the long forgotten duvet cover. I even have enough left over for quilting. What more can I ask … except to be less clumsy with the unpicker!

Lesson? Handsew buttonholes in future. But then don’t expect to meet the challenge deadline! No worries, I will definitely return to my pre-deadline ways.

Well, time to sort out the airing cupboard swamp that has engulfed the landing.

Happy crafting,

Mx

Dogs really are man and woman’s best friend

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.

I have visited Keswick many times and talked about it in this here blog including describing a trip to see one of the ‘Herstory’ exhibitions at Keswick’s friendly museum https://itllbereet.com/2018/01/31/bussing-it-two-visit-herstory/. Here is a little reminder of the scenery that surrounds the town.

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.

Mx

Speeding up!

I don’t know if it is the first hint of Spring – but oh my didn’t we get a shock when the temperatures dropped last week! – or the post-Covid urge to see folk and enjoy a modicum of travel but the last couple of weekends have found me trotting to Yorkshire to visit my children and their families.

As there is a risk of weeks passing before my next post I thought a few words and photos would keep us in touch.

There was a wonderful high-tea with No 1 Daughter, Peanut and Shrub for Mother’s Day. Poor No 1 Son-in-law missed out as work called, how dare it!

And this weekend a family outing to the fabulous Eureka the National Children‘s Museum in Halifax with No1 Son and Daughter-In-Law and Munchkin.

Eureka is an amazing place for children with learning offered at every corner.

Remember to look after yourself!

You can find out what it’s like to work on the drains, in a motor shop, at a bank or in a post office and other places beside:

Even the loos have something to tell you… did you know ….

Every one is considered with spaces for the under 5s, a good range of dietary requirements being met in the amazingly organised cafe, properly accessible facilities with hoists, and plenty of fun. I mean what could be better than to end the day with a triceratops?!

We had a full day and there was so much more we could have explored but the thoughtful folk at Eureka have that problem sorted too because for the price of your first visit, entry is free for the next 12 months.

Last but not least I have a new obsession. On Wednesday 30 March osprey returned to Cumbria, to one of my favourite Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves at Foulshaw Moss! Watching the webcam of their nest is truly addictive, have a look https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife/cams/osprey-cam. The nest is empty right now, of course I have checked! As the osprey love to do a bit of fishing I am guessing that they are looking for supper. They have been quite … erm … frisky … since they returned so hopefully there will be Easter osprey eggs soon. Exciting!!!! I mean forget reality human TV give me ospreys any day.

Well must go. House to clean and osprey to watch …

Slow down Saturday (and Sunday) … ribbit!

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.

Hi folks – remember me?

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.

Please keep safe and be kind,

Mx

Wild wide seascapes – two go to South Walney, Cumbria

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.

Here’s another map of our walking route.

All the best from Madam Sore-toes-a x

Lovely Leeds

Leeds has been close to my heart for several years since both my children migrated to Yorkshire following career opportunities and then settled there following their hearts. Now between them they are raising the Tribe of Doris my gorgeous trio of granddaughters who are all Yorkshire lasses.

Last weekend I had a mini-visit to one of my favourite cities to visit No 1 son and his family. I started out as always with the bus and then the train from Carnforth.

Where’s Postman Sam and his black and white cat?

I may have mentioned this before but I am sad that this famous little station didn’t have the best of years in which to celebrate it’s 75th anniversary.

2020? Not the World’s greatest year ….

But I am soon off to Leeds and a small – but beautifully formed – family gathering. It was so lovely to see R and Munchkin waiting to meet me off the train. News flash: the train was early!

We spent a happy Saturday exploring things metropolitan. I have become quite a country mouse and have forgotten how amazing graffiti can be.

Confession time. I am not the biggest fan of graffiti, sad little scrawls with spray paint do nothing for me but when it is done right: it is art.

My son thought I had wandered off while having a senior moment to take this photo! Anyhow I was soon rounded up and we toddled – Munchkin is only two – into town.

Loving the mix of old and new!

Arriving at my Elderado, a museum.

We headed to the top and visited the world of the ancients with Munchkin enjoying building her very own temple.

Next I reminisced about the good old bad old days in the temporary exhibition ‘Money Talks’. Decimalisation is a really vivid memory to me. I was away on a school trip at the time and came home to a whole new currency. I still have a soft spot for half-a-crowns. They seemed like a fortune at the time but must have been about 25 pence in ‘new’ money.

No 1 was particularly shocked by the restaurant prices … think I visited this particular eatery as a child with my father around this time. I was partial to a prawn cocktail at eight, spoilt only child that I was. Now I look at the menu as a vegan and wince.

We had only ‘done’ one floor of the museum so we have plenty to return to. The ‘Money Talks’ exhibition was a great discussion starter and if you happen to be in Leeds I would recommend a visit to see it.

After all this looking at menus what else to do but go to lunch and finish with a hot chocolate at the Everyman cinema before boarding the train back to the woolly wilds of Cumbria.

Perfect end to a perfect visit. Thanks and love to D, R and Munchkin for a super visit.

Mx

Walk in the woods – two go to Craggy Wood Staveley, Cumbria

Hello All

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.

Moke x

Call of the wild – two go to Foulshaw Moss

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?!

When I sat at this bus stop in June 2018 en route to baby-sit in Yorkshire

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!

Honestly this was teeming with birds until I tried to take a photo!

Wait, who’s this little fellow?

“Darn it she snapped me. Worms are on me guys!”

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.

Oh dear …

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.

Aaaaaah, breathe in the calm.

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!

Have happy outdoors days all.

Mx