Category Archives: wildlife

Into The Woods. 🌳

Skipton Castle Woods is a lovely place to wander whatever the season. I always seem to be drawn here in the Winter , when it is easier to spot birds busy in the bare branches of this centuries old woodland.

Spirit of the Medieval Huntress by Anna & the Willow.

The Woodland is looked after by The Woodland Trust. Eller Beck runs through the valley and Skipton Castle is nearby. You don’t even have to imagine the medieval hunting that went on amongst the shade of ancient oaks. Anna Crosses evocative willow sculptures give you a glimpse of what it was like here all those years ago.

Stag by Anna & the Willow.
Treecreeper.
Stalking Horse by Anna & the Willow.

After a saunter around the Woods a Hot Chocolate was a welcome treat. The Chocolate Works on the High Street ( there’s one in Clitheroe too) was a great choice. πŸ™‚

The Chocolate Works.
I took this photo purely because of all those smart doggys in the window. Looks quite a specialist shop though!

Skipton Canal.

Do you have a favourite woodland you like to have a wander in?

Paythorne Walk.

We got out for our first longish walk this year, a year which we started off by catching covid. Oh joy! Luckily for both Wil and I, our experience of the virus was pretty tame. We both had colds, runny noses and sneezed alot. We watched alot of Netflix. The End. Though I must admit, it was good to take our boots off when we finished this hike, it tired us out more than we care to admit….

Again I dipped into Nick Burton’s Lancashire Pub Walks guide for inspiration.

Paythorne is a small village ( well more of a hamlet really) between Gisburn in the Ribble Valley and Hellifield in North Yorkshire. Theres not much there except a pub, a tiny Methodist church and a large Caravan Park. At the moment there is definitely some sort of dispute in the village regarding a proposal to extend the caravan park. Everywhere you look there are orange signs saying ‘ Say No To More Caravans ‘ , I think there are more signs than houses.

We parked in the village car park opposite the pub and set off. The walk is one of bridleways, fields and country lanes and is 6 or so miles long.

The Buck at Paythorne.
Sign for the large Caravan park at Paythorne.
A Bridleway through twisted thorns and Holly trees. I have decided to call it Hey Holly Lonnin. 😁
Gorse can flower all year round.
I do love an old freight train carriage. Growing up my sister, cousins and I were lucky enough to have one to play house in, until our Grandad gave it to the chickens!

Quite a bit of road walking.
Just liked the name. 😁
Another farm ~ with chickens.
Curious Shire Horse.
The cutest πŸ™‚
The Cockiest.
Hen Harrier Sign for The Forest Of Bowland.
I – Spy ~ a white pheasant. It is possible that these white coloured birds are bred for pheasant shoots as markers, to identify the whereabouts of other pheasants. Therefore they are usually safe from the bullet, unlike their more common cousins.
View of the River Ribble.
Sham Castle 🏰 ruins. These were once the kennels that housed the Lords Ribblesdales hounds.
Hugo saying that living with us is much nicer than living in a sham Castle. Really!
Gisburne Park estate is used for weddings and other events, hence the light bulbs everywhere.
Fields.
Woody path.
Paythorne Bridge.
Back into the village.
Tiny Methodist Church. Grade 2 listed dating from the 1800s.
The Route.

Thanks for dropping by. ☺️

Silverdale Saunter.

Back to the beach again! But this time it’s a saunter round Silverdale, a Lancashire village ( but only just ! ) on Morecambe Bay near the Cumbria Border. We visited here last Summer whilst staying in nearby Arnside. In fact we have camped in Silverdale before too, but these photos are just from an afternoon saunter in August. For one reason or other I didn’t take as many pictures as usual. Darn!

The Arnside and Silverdale AONB is a breathtakingly beautiful place. I follow a blogger from the area ~Β  Beating The Bounds regularly walks & cycles the meandering lanes and rocky limestone outcrops that make this little coastal corner so special.

But back to our visit. It was a warm but quite grey August day,  showers too I think. There was a summertime vibe in the village, pops of colour from yarn bombing and bunting.

Silverdales Millennium Clock in its vibrant yarn bombed jacket.
Yarn bombed!
Busy day at the Blossom Bird cafe. 🐦

Hugo seemed to know where we should take him ( he is after all  ‘ The Most Important’ ) and pulled us toward the shore. We walked along the sands a while,  finally coming to a little inlet behind woodland at Gibraltar Farm Campsite. We probably weren’t meant to cut through the site, but thought we could get away with looking either lost/ confused / campers. πŸ˜‰

Shoreside cottages.
Morecambe Bay.
Rocky cliffs.
Inlet.

We found ourselves at The Wolf House Gallery opposite Gibraltar Farm and stopped here for a takeaway lunch.

Honesty box eggs & jams ( and wellies πŸ™‚ ) at Gibraltar Farm.
Wolf House. The last Wolf in England was said to be hunted near here.
Outside the gallery.

After lunch we continued up a quiet lane to two local landmarks. Jenny Browns Point is a beautiful viewing point with wide reaching vistas over the bay. There is a lovely looking house here that is said to have been home to Jenny Brown herself. But who was she? It is said she may have been a nanny who tried to save her charges from the waves. Or more romantically, was she a lovelorn maiden waiting for her mate to return , feared lost at sea. No one knows for sure.

Cottage at Jenny Browns Point.
Lime Kiln at Jenny Browns Point.

Nearby is Jack Scout Nature Reserve , managed by the National Trust. We weaved our way through the gorse and other windswept shrubs to find a rather grand stone seat. If your ever around Silverdale be sure to sit on The Giants Chair and enjoy the views.

The Giants Chair.
View from Jack Scout.

Phew! Caught up at last on posts from our week on The Cumbrian ( and Lancashire) Coast in August of 2021.

Bye for now. 🐚

Lovely Lytham.

It’s been a couple of years since I visited the Fylde Coast, Bank Holiday Monday seemed the perfect day for a bracing beach walk. My was it cold! Luckily we wrapped up. The wind was determined and even whipped away our Parking Ticket ( probably into the North Sea! ) so another had to be purchased. Despite that, it was a pleasure to be in Lytham once again….

Lancashire’s Fylde Coast is home to Seaside resorts such as Blackpool and St Annes. Lytham is the one with the Windmill on the Green, looking out over the Ribble Estuary. Just in case you weren’t aware. The town has changed a little I think, even since my last visit two Winters ago. There are a wealth of new independent shops and cafes on the tree lined wide pavemented streets, away from the chilly seafront. A Summer trip is much overdue.

A Mussel Shell 🐚 Sculpture on the site of the old Mussel Tanks , near the RNLI Lifeboat Station.
Up until the 1940s freshly caught Shellfish were cleaned in the Mussel Tanks. The site has recently been preserved for history.
Adorably kitch Wreath.
Too cold for ice cream.
However , Chells on Clifton Street is a great place for lunch.
My Lunch.
On Clifton Street.
Newly opened Pie & Sausage Shop.
Old favourite ~ Tom Towers Tasty Cheese Shop.

The seafront at Lytham is actually an estuary front , with a 800 metre promenade that links the resort to its nearest neighbour St Anne’s. There are views over the River Ribble towards the twinkling lights of Southport and even to Wales. The marshes are home to thousands of migratory birds. I should have brought a pair of binoculars!

Shipwreck!
Looking towards the marshes.
A White Wagtail. A migratory species whose cousin is the more common Pied Wagtail.
Marshland.
A Kestrel finds a perch.
Lytham Green and Windmill.

Lytham Windmill is undoubtedly the town’s most iconic landmark. Built in 1805 it stands proud on the Green, looking out over the marshes. It was a flour mill but ceased trade in the 1920s. Today it houses a museum, though I have never ventured inside.

Lytham Windmill and old Lifeboat House.
Anchors. These were restored after being caught the nets of a Fishing Trawler called ‘ Biddy’ in the 1980s.
A boardwalk to the sea.
My purchase. Half price Christmas cards from the RNLI shop. I have put them away ‘ somewhere safe’ for this year.

Have you been to the coast this Winter?

Tockholes Walk. πŸ₯Ύ

Hi there, hope everyone has had a good Christmas break. On Boxing Day, despite it being a bit drizzly and damp, we were up for a good walk to blow away the cobwebs. Out came the Guide To Lancashire Pub Walks by Nick Burton. We decided to try the last route in this handy little pocket size book, taking in moorland and woodland near the West Pennines village of Tockholes. I am sure parts of this trek have been covered by other bloggers I follow, but it is an area myself and Wil definitely need to explore more.

We parked near The Royal Arms pub, which looks to be a popular ramblers Inn with toasty fires , serves food and is dog friendly. In no time we were walking up Darwen Moor, heading into the mist.

Darwen Moor and a sign for its popular landmark, not a rocket πŸš€ but Darwen Tower.
Moorland horse.
On the move.
And so are we, in the opposite direction.
Back onto moorland by Stepback Brook.
We didn’t head for the tower, which at the moment is obscured by scaffolding anyway, but followed the signs across the fell and back down toward woodland.
Zig Zagging across the Moors, we heard Grouse calling to one another.
Once in Roddlesworth Woods saw lots of Winter Fungi.
Witches Butter Fungi aka Yellow Brain.
Turkey Tail Fungi in the Moss.
In the Woods, the rather spooky remains of Hollinshead Hall, including this old Well House, where pilgrims stopped on the way to Whalley Abbey.
This lovely Pack Horse Bridge was perfect for a pit stop.
A view from the bridge over Rocky Brook.
Tockholes Tourists.
Some kind person had spread bird seed along the opposite bridge wall. Coal Tits, Nuthatch and even Grey Wagtail ( above) were enjoying their Christmas feast.
Nuthatch.
Hugo found an Orange ball which he decided to roll down every little hill he came across.
He also had fun in Rocky Brook.
Pixie Cup Lichen.
We followed the woodland path as far as Roddlesworth Reservoir.
And then turned back on ourselves and found a wooded path back up to The Royal Arms.

This was a good 4 -5 mile walk and I’m hopeful we will make it back to the area soon. Loved all the wildlife seen and the rugged Lancashire landscape.

Wildlife Seen In 2021.

Is it really time for my first Round Up Post of 2021! Before I put this blog together , I had actually forgotten that I have seen quite a selection of wildlife this year. The ending of travel restrictions at home meant holidays in different parts of the UK , therefore different wildlife too. It was so good to spend a week on the Norfolk Coast, where there are an abundance of sea birds such as Avocet and Brent Geese. And of course Seals galore, which are always fun to see ( and hear! ), they do make some funny noises. 😁

Spent quite a bit of time at the caravan too, which has has been a great base for exploring Cumbria and even further North. It was a pleasure to be taken to see a rare Bird’s-eye Primrose by a botany loving lady in Melmerby and to catch a glimpse of Red Squirrels in woodland at Killhope Mining Museum , County Durham.

The best wildlife moments are often those that completely sneek up on you. Like coming across a Sika Deer Stag whilst on a local walk. What an honour…. My personal favourite sighting though might just be that of a Blood Vein Moth. This strange insect was discovered by my niece and nephew in the grass ,whilst we walked in fields near Downham. To see the photo keep scrolling down. Enjoy. β™₯️

Red Squirrel 🐿️, one of three seen at Killhope Mining Museum in County Durham.
Common Seals on a hidden sand bank, Brancaster in Norfolk.
A nesting Fulmar , the stripey red cliffs of Hunstanton, Norfolk.
Brent Goose, there were flocks of these at RSPB Titchwell Marsh in May.
Two Red Legged Partridge in a field in Melmerby.
Sunflower 🌻 Display, Crummock Bank Farm in Cumbria.
Male Eider Duck in Eyemoth Harbour, Scottish Borders.
Golden Plover on Melmerby Fell in April.
Holly Blue Butterfly, Clitheroe Castle.
Turnstone at Hunstanton beach.
A Yellow Iris is home to a 🐌 Snail, Hest Bank, Lancashire.
Sweet Cygnet at Salt House, Norfolk.
More Norfolk wildlife ~ Muntjac Deer 🦌
Vibrant purple Columbine, Haltwhistle, Northumberland.
My first ever Tree Creeper photo, taken at NT Acorn Bank.
Birds – Eye Primrose. Love the colour. In a field near Melmerby.
Avocet ~ Cley Next The Sea, Norfolk.
A Grey Seal waiting for food at Eyemouth Harbour in Scotland.
Blood Vein Moth. Don’t you think it looks like a pair of blood drained lips! Photo taken by my nephew Roman.
Handsome Sika Deer Stag, Gisburn Park, Lancashire.

My vow for next year, is to actually take my Camera out more. Like most people I seem to be relying more on my phone camera, which of course is not good enough to capture that elusive Kingfisher or that cackling Jay.

What wildlife have you been lucky enough to see in 2021? πŸ€—

Clitheroe Castle Wanders.

Recent mornings here are chilly and bright. The Autumn colours at Clitheroe Castle have been particularly striking. Hugo and I have spent many a morning walking in the grounds, though I am well aware we need to get a few longer routes in. It’s not just Hugo who is turning into a chunk!

After eighteen months of having nowhere to go for a hot drink in the castle park, the former Bowling Green cafe building is back in business. Now called The 3 C’s Cafe ,it’s a bright cheery place selling coffee, cakes, milkshakes & ice cream. I think it will be very popular with the kids. A quiet brew though, can be snatched early on a week day morning. πŸ™‚

See you soon. πŸ€—

A Wee Borders Break.

We were recently to be found just over the border in Scotland for a wee break and a complete change of scenery. Our home for two nights was a cute Victorian cottage at Reston called Coveyheugh Lodge. Set in a wooded valley between a railway line and the busy A1, it isn’t quite as peaceful as it looks! However we weren’t put off by the occasional noise, as this home away from home is a wonderful base for exploring the lovely East Scotland coastline.

Our home for 2 nights.
Toasty wood burner.
Patio Garden.
Morning walk.
Signage for nearby Mill.

Although we had originally planned a couple of walks in the local area, we hadn’t realised that poor Wil would still be recovering from sciatica. So what we did was some gentle pottering. Luckily there were fascinating places to visit, only a short drive away.

EYEMOUTH.

This small fishing town was once a smugglers paradise. It’s location just North of the border meant it was the nearest Scottish port to the Continent. Tea and Spirits were duly smuggled. A handsome Quayside house Gunsgreen House was apparently built on the proceeds and today houses a museum and smugglers trail.

Gunsgreen House.

Eyemouths natural harbour is a working fishing harbour and a river called ‘ Eye Water ‘ flows into it. πŸ™‚ Grey Seals can often be seen here, though I suspect this may have something to do with the seal feeding point at the water’s edge. Although it was lovely to see them, I do question whether wild seals should be fed in this way, incase they come to depend on the food. What do you think?

Grey Seal waiting for fish.
Grey Seal.
Eider Duck.

A tragic time in Eyemouths maritime history is brought to life in an evocative and moving sculpture on the sea front. Widows & Bairns by Jill Watson depicts the waiting wives and children of men whose fishing vessels were struck down in the fatal storm of 1881, killing 179. The frantic gestures of the fishermen’s families are heartbreaking to see , especially when many of the boats were destroyed so close to shore ; the sea was just too rough to contemplate rescue. The loss was Scotland’s worst ever fishing disaster.

Widows and Bairns is also known locally as ‘ Black Friday’
A very emotive piece.

Eyemouth has a really nice sandy beach ( not pictured 🀣 ) , a couple of pubs with seafaring names like The Contented Sole and we shared fish & chips on the quayside from Giacopazzi’s.

Eyemouth Beach.
Chippy Dinner.

COLDINGHAM BAY.

My pictures really don’t do Coldingham Bay justice. It’s the prettiest little sandy inlet, in-between Eyemouth and St Abbs. On our visit this sheltered beach was a balmy 16Β°c, not bad for the last Wednesday in October. As well as lots of golden sand, there are tidal rock pools and colourful beach huts. What a gem of a setting.

Colourful Beach Huts.
Rocky Shore.

The bay has a Beach cafe ( closed on our visit), toilets and car park. St Vedas Surf Shop was doing a roaring trade in paddle boarding , coffees & cake. I can imagine this place getting busy in the Summer.

ST ABBS.

Just North of Eyemouth is the picturesque fishing village of St Abbs. It’s dramatic backdrop of jagged purple cliffs gives the harbour side fishermens cottages a very scenic setting. So much so that St Abbs doubles as Thor’s home New Asgard in the Marvel movie Avengers : Endgame. I can’t say I’ve watched any of the recent Avengers films but I can see why the village was picked, it does have a Scandinavian look about it.


New Asgard sign.
St Abbs.
Ebbcarrs is famous for its fresh crab sandwiches.
The harbour.
Jetty.
Another jetty juts out onto the rocks.

And at this time of year St Abbs has its own Pumpkin Patch. πŸ™‚ Love it……

St Abbs Memorial.

Just outside of the St Abbs Visitor Centre there is another Jill Watson Memorial. St Abbs did not escape the tragic storms that took so many fishermens lives back in 1881.

St Abbs Head

The cliffs at St Abbs Head are home to various seabirds who make their home on the rugged ledges. And there’s a Grey Seal colony here too. We didn’t walk the cliff top paths of the Nature Reserve , definitely something to think about doing next time. What a wild and unspoilt headland.

I hope so!

The places we visited are joined by the Berwickshire Coastal Path .

Bye for Now. πŸŽƒ

A Canal Walk To The Sea.

So here’s a throwback post to August and our stay in Arnside on the Cumbrian Coast. A short train journey away is the characterful town of Ulverston, a place we have visited several times before. The towns cobbled streets and plethora of independent shops, cafes and pubs make it a great destination for generally mooching about. After a ‘ mooch about’ we would be heading along the World’s Shortest, Deepest and Widest Canal, for a walk to the Sea.

Ulverston.
Laurel & Hardy….and friend.
Movie theatre inside the museum.

The morning we visited Ulverston it was exhibiting typical Lake District weather! To escape the rain we spent a good hour or so in the towns Laurel and Hardy Museum. Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston in 1890 and must surely be  it’s most famous resident. The museum has a good selection of the comedy duos memorabilia,  as well as a small cinema that plays Laurel & Hardy features on a loop. Our dog Hugo was made welcome and humoured us as we chuckled our way around. 😊

After a lovely lunch at the nearby Stan Laurel Inn we were suitably refreshed for a canal side walk. Ulverston Canal is a former Ship Canal which linked Ulverston to Morecambe Bay, one and a half miles away.  Completed in 1796 ,the waterway claimed to be the shortest , deepest, widest …… and straightest Canal in the World. Once upon a time passenger ships to Scotland and London embarked from here as well as cargos of local slate. But when the Railway arrived in Ulverston in the 1840s, the record breaking Canals fortunes were on the wane.  By the end of the Second World War Ulverston Canal was no longer in use.

Start of the walk at Canal Head, with views of The Hoad Monument behind us.

Today the waterway offers a serene amble from Canal Head in the town to Canal Foot with its splendid views over Morecambe Bay.  A footpath on the less industrial side of the canal is a popular stroll. There’s even a pub at the end. An incentive indeed!

Flowering Rushes.
A Map Of Ulverston Canal.
Canal Side Retreat looking out over a  million lily pads.

We saw lots of wildlife as we walked along. Plenty of waterside wildflowers and much of the surface was covered in Lily pads. Mute Swans, Comerants, Moor hens and Mallards swam and dived amongst them.

Old Man’s Beard , aka Travellers Joy.
Swanning off.

Half way along Ulverston Canal is a Rolling Bridge, the only one of its kind left in England. Forgotten about  for many years  , it was a history enthusiast who discovered the significance of the bridge and it was given Grade ll status in 2012.

Rolling Bridge.
More Lily Pads.
Juvenile Swans.
112 Foot Sea Lock, the only lock on the canal.

Before long we were at Hammerside Point , Canal Foot. Here the former Ship Canal meets the Leven Estuary. What a splendidly unexpected place…

Out to Sea.
Sign by the small car park at Canal Foot.
Leven Estuary.

For some reason I forgot to take a photo of The Bay Horse Hotel  from the outside ,so below is a distant one I found online. The former Coaching Inn enjoys stunning views over the Bay. Once upon a time it was from here that brave travellers would make the perilous journey by stage coach, over the sands to Lancaster. The arrival of the Railway probably saved a lot of lives!

Bayhorse Hotel with conservatory.
A white horse, not a Bay 🐎 horse, inside the Inn.

After a drink in the pub we retraced our steps back to Ulverston.  On the way an unassuming wooden shed near the Lock Keepers Cottage peeked my interest, especially when I saw its ‘ Welcome Humans ‘ sign?

Lock Keepers Cottage.
Welcome Humans!
Inside the shed.

Whilst looking it up online later, I discovered that the Shed is part of an interactive Art Installation Project called the Last Human Coro Shed . Perhaps not what you would expect to see where a canal meets the sea…..

Goodbye Morecambe Bay.

Thanks for joining me. 😊

A Pleasington Walk. πŸ₯Ύ

Welcome back to Lancashire for this walk which is a couple of short train journeys away from my hometown of Clitheroe. We don’t use the train often enough and hope to remedy that when finding future hikes. This walk is featured in the Guide To Lancashire Pub Walks by Nick Burton, a handy little pocket size publication. We did a few of the walks mentioned during the first lockdowns , when the pubs weren’t even open. Happily not so the case now. πŸ™‚

Anyway we caught a train from Clitheroe to Blackburn and then went on to the village of Pleasington from there. The whole journey took about 40 minutes including connection time. The walk took us up The Yellow Hills to see The Wainwright Memorial and then through woodland and Witton Park. Refreshments at The Railway Hotel in the village , at the end.

Pleasant Pleasington sign at the Railway Station.
We walk past Pleasington Priory.
And a house with Stone Lions guarding it.
And then through a field of cows. They were pretty calm until a farmer appeared on a quad bike, then they started chasing it around the field.
We escaped the cows!
A friendly Cat on a drive-way.
Fly Agaric, though not the best specimen.
Looks like we are on the Witton Weavers Way.

After walking through some woodland we ascended the gentle slopes of the Yellow Hills to come across the Wainwright Memorial , a fitting tribute to the Blackburn born Fell Walker, writer and illustrator Alfred Wainwright.  As a young man Alfred would walk in these hills above Blackburn. On a clear day he would be able to glimpse upon the fells of the Lake District, they would eventually entice him to Cumbria where he recorded his hikes in his famous Pictorial Guides.

The Wainwright Memorial was unveiled in 2013.
Intrepid Hikers.
No distant views as wasn’t clear enough. The Yellow Hills are named after the yellow blooms of the Gorse bushes that grow here.
A Polypore Fungi.
Crow Wood.
Autumn colours appearing.

We walked on to Witton Park, following woodland paths downwards through Billinge Wood and Crow Wood. The Crow Sculpture I had hoped to see didn’t appear to be there ( unless we somehow missed it !) , though there was an information board near where I thought it should have been. And there were plenty of real crows, magpies and other wildlife in the woods.

Crow Sculpture Information Board.
Nuthatch.
Grey Squirrel.
Witton Park.
Butler’s Bridge over the River Darwen.

Witton Park is vast, covering 480 acres. It is Criss crossed by various walking trails and has a visitor centre. We will have to return oneday as we didn’t come across the centre and only saw a small part of the grounds on our walk. After crossing Butler’s Bridge it was a short meander up past the Priory and back into Pleasington.

Pleasington Priory was opened in 1819.
The Railway Hotel.
Railway Flowers. πŸš‚πŸš‚
Waiting for the train back to Blackburn. Pleasington is a request stop , so be prepared to stick your arm out. 😁

Map ~ OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors.

Book ~ Guide To Lancashire Pub Walks by Nick Burton.

Distance ~ 4 Miles/ 6.4km.