March: Calm Before The Storm!

You can always rely on the month of March to at least bring some sunshine to our lives! So much so I tend to rely on this period of sun to give my hair that extra kick of colouring when redying it! Given I've felt in somewhat of a slump with my photography the last couple of months, this month certainly began with a high and my self-confidence was on the up! I had several plans for this month, including a week off work, and I managed to get a lot of these done despite the universe having some extremely different plans in store for all of us!

I've been venturing down the several footpaths leading to and from the River Kent this last month, and without a doubt it will be something I continue to do whilst living in my current flat! There are plenty of places for whatever kind of walk or time in nature I fancy - there's ones which I can take my time on and know will be secluded, those with a variety of scenery to accompany the wildlife nestled along the river and those which are short enough just to help blow the cobwebs away! A friend from university came to visit and we had a wander down to the river when the heavier rain turned into drizzle, wandering around a field shaped by a curve in the river before perching on a wall and watching the flow of the water in front of us. The field we were sat in is meant to have been part of a roman fort, although you can't really see this when physically in the field but the birds eye views are meant to show distinct markings in the land where walls will have previously stood! For a lengthier walk based around the river you can cross over a bridge just down from the village of Natland and walk along the otherside of the river which runs through open farmland. There is a quiet bit of woodland near a housing estate that marks the beginning of Kendal town which is lovely to walk through whatever the season! It has also got a bench overlooking the farm where the roman fort lies on the other side of the water, and quite other inquisitive geese come across the river to see if you have anything interesting for them!

During my week off work, the last week of normality for the country, I decided to spend the afternoon at another regular haunt of mine, The Helme. After basically living at the foot of the hill last year I'd become quite familiar with the tracks and trails taking you to the secluded areas that see less footfall - majority of visitors walk to the trig point at the top of the hill or to the tarn resting on the side furthest from the town. With it being a glorious day with a bright blue sky with barely a cloud in site, I knew it would be quite busy up the main top so I made my way along the track which took you along the bottom to the field where wild horses roam. The colour palette here was vibrant and peaceful to the eye, every element of nature blended together into a perfect gradient. The stunning blue of the sky, the tranquil yellow gorse starting to blossom against the warm green leaves adding more depth to the picture in front of me. I slowly made my way up towards the tarn resting near the top - another common place for people to wander to - but I perched myself on part of the bumpy outlying surfaces of the hill which was hidden away from any main walking routes but still had phenomenal views far south of the county. You can see for miles from up here, with rooftops from the handfuls of tiny hamlets of houses scattered beneath the waves of the rolling hills which were home to a variety of livestock. I decided to descend the way I came up the hill when I noticed the top was becoming busier as people flocked to the early afternoon sun, and several groups had wandered onto my side of the fell already.

For Christmas my Grandad gave me a wall map of the main Wainwright fells which allows you to tick them off when completed and write the date, so we (my mum, grandad and I) have been keen to mark some of these off this year! We decided to start with a lower fell, which is easily accessible and one quite close to all of us to make travelling easier. So, on one of the first sunnier Saturdays of this month we parked up at Yew Tree Tarn and made our way towards Holme Fell! We took the path less travelled that took you around the edge of the tarn between trees which seemed to stretch for miles above, with their leaves tickling the clouds littered in the blue sky. The steep path was a bit precarious in places but there were plenty of clearings to stop for a moment and marvel at the feels poking out of the top of the tall treeline, particularly those which enclose Tarn Hows and cover Black Fell. I imagine half of the year that this walk way is inaccessible as it looks like a water channel previously ran down the now dry and dusty rocks and earth underneath our feet, so we were lucky we have had such a spate of stunning weather compared to last month! Once we clambered our way up, we arrived central within the clumps of fell points that are dispersed within the area, Wetherlam in particular stood large and proud, a predominant landmark within the Coniston Fells.

Upon bearing right, the Langdales came into view and perfectly framed the scenery below it. I was truly mesmerised by the view, something which always happens when I walk in the heart of the Lake District, and ran ahead to get photographs of the surrounding peaks and some of a small tarn resting on the descent towards Hodge Close. We wandered along the top of the fells towards the Langdales with views of Elterwater, and found some shelter from the wind behind some large boulders so that we could eat our lunch and see what else we could spot on the horizon ahead of us. I just couldn't resist pulling my camera out every few seconds to get photos as the few clouds scattered in the sky caused the shadows to dance across the fell tops and as the sun's rays got stronger in warmth and vibrancy. After having our lunch we looped around the fell top and were greeted by a stunning view of Coniston Water from the other side, where the surface of the water looked like a large mirror reflecting the sunlight in all directions. We paused for a little while here, finding my grandparents housing resting on the horizon above the village of Coniston.

We made our way back down towards the Langdales and the tarn resting between Holme Fell and Hodge Close. As the Langdales dominated the skyline, the tarn in front of us broke into two, and the water was a vibrant sapphire shade as it mixed sunlight with the shadows projecting from the thick tree branches. As we descended down the hill, the path twirling around and between the tarns towards Hodge Close became more apparent, and a thick barricade of trees protected the depths of Hodge Close. There were a few more people scattered along the path but generally we had it to ourselves as we wandered to the tarns edge and down the slate path which directed us towards the quarry. When we reached Hodge Close there were lots of cars and people making their way on the various paths leading from here. We spotted a quiet path which led you around the top of the quarries and we decided to wander down here as it w deserted bar a few people setting up their rock climbing gear onto a nearby tree. Considering how many people were just a short distance away at the other side of Hodge Close, the soundscape was dominated by the birds and the sway of the overgrowth that was bowing over the path as our feet passed through. This little path took us directly around the open top of the quarry, with only a little fence and bushes separating us from its deep depths. We followed the narrow track down towards until we met the public footpath that ran along from Coniston to Yew Tree Farm which was nice and shaded from the rising heat. The final stretch back to where our cars were parked took us along the road but along the edge of a field where there were lambs stretching their legs by jumping around the few patches of uneven ground as the field sloped up the hill.

Our final walk of 'freedom' before staying home was the Fairy Steps in Beetham via Storth. This route was specifically chosen so that it was secluded from other people walking about, but also shady in most part due to the fantastic March weather we've had has been rather warm once you're sheltered from any wind! The Fairy Steps is the old coffin route, which part of runs beside the small village of Beetham, and it is believed if you make it up the steep, narrow crack beneath two large boulders without touching the sides, a fairy will appear when you reach the end! We made our way through the woodland which ran alongside Yan's Lane in Storth and the fallen leaves clustered around the tree trunks were vibrant shades of orange and brown as the sunlight made its way through the trees yet to fully display their foliage. The Fairy Steps are hidden in amongst woodland which hides the slope of the ground beneath your feet as you meander along the path. Despite the trees being particularly bare, the wood bark and soft soil path was nice and dry which made the walk so much easier, and pleasant as you can wander whilst looking into the trees and surrounding fauna covering the floor without worrying about slipping on any unexpected stones hidden underneath the disguised within the mud and fallen leaves! Afterwards, we detoured slightly on our way back to the car by walking down part of the shore on the Kentmere Estuary at Sandside as there were not many people already down there. It was lovely just to take ten minutes to appreciate the smell of fresh air, the feel of the wind as it slightly brushes your skin and just beautiful things to be seen on every horizon or around each corner. Once we're allowed back out properly in nature, it will be worth the wait however long that may be!

The aforementioned walks are before the world went a bit... crazy, shall we say? The current situation can be frustrating at times as this is typically the time of year where my time out walking rapidly increases and I'd love to just wander down to the local grass area by the river and just sit on a bench and watch the sunshine but alas, we've got to think of more important things! I'm just grateful that I know of several footpaths and decent length walks I can do right from my front door so I have plenty of options to add a bit of variety to my lockdown, and to avoid the crowded places in town! I'm sure my next blog or so will be about these walks as I probably won't have much else to talk about! I have decided not to take my camera out on walks with me during lockdown as I think it defeats the purpose of our right to exercise. I'm sure my phone camera will be put to good use during these next few weeks though!

The new few weeks/months will give me time to continue working on my website, tweaking the new layout and continuing to transfer over information and pages such as the locations guide I started last year! With this new layout being a completely different look, I've had to start fresh on what I had previously done but I feel it's much better than what I had previously set up on the old layout! I am also considering uploading a gallery of my phone photography - it's not something I'm keen on as I feel you get much more involved in a photo using a 'proper' camera but it is quite popular now and I do think some of my own 'phonography' is worthy to be displayed on here! So keep an eye out on these appearing over the next month or so!

Stay safe, and stay local - find those hidden gems!