July&August: So-Called Summer!

After 26 years on this planet, you'd think I'd have learnt not to expect beautiful weather during the 'summer' months! July and August have pretty much been a washout, particularly on my days off from work! The sun finally decided to bless Cumbria with its presence at the end of August, so fingers crossed this good weather continues to next month as I'm going away with my mum in the Western Lakes for a couple of nights then! I did hope to get plenty of walks done in preparation for my time away as we do intend to do at least 1 Wainwright whilst away, and we were going to practise with my Grandad but in true fashion to the last couple of months... it rained whenever we were expected in Coniston! I do hope us three do manage to get out at least once before the bad weather happens!

On one of the drier mornings with uncertainty in regards to whether it would stay that way into the afternoon, I had a little wander near the River Bela that runs through the boundary of Milnthorpe and Beetham. The walk led me up the side of the river before it is crossed by the main road by a bridge, and up towards the Old Heron Corn Mill which resides on the river edge. I could see parts of the old mills in amongst the new buildings that now resided in the area before crossing back over the river into the car park for the mill. From the Corn Mill the footpath led into a field which had a flock of sheep residing there. This footpath was bordered each side by a line of trees which sent you up the hill in a direct line to a gate allowing access into Dallam Park. Dallam Park is home to deer, cattle and sheep but access is allowed via the direct footpath, which takes you away from the top of the hill overlooking the river towards the otherside. There are lovely views from this side over the beginning of the Kent Estuary and across the sands towards Grange-Over-Sands. A group of deer were hiding under a clump of trees as it provided shelter from the increasing temperature, but when I approached the river I could see the antlers of some stags camouflaging into the tree branches and longer parts of grass which resided on the other side of the water. Further down the river there was two canadian geese nesting on the water's edge, something which I had never seen down here before - I think lockdown has allowed our wildlife the chance to explore and find new places! After leaving the park I wandered back along the River Bela on the newly constructed path after Storm Desmond damaged the previous, and after a quick detour into the shop for a slush puppy, I made my way back along the road overlooking the river and the western side of Dallam Park where majority of the deer seem to always be. Alongside watching the deer slowly wandering along the steep hill and weaving between trees, I saw a small egret on the river bank looking out for anything it could eat.

After what felt like countless days with rain, I wanted to get out and stretch my legs regardless of the weather so I wanted somewhere local, with decent paths and plenty of trees for shelter to have my wander. I didn't mind how long I was out, just as long I found myself a quiet spot in nature! I ended up at Sizergh Castle, as it has many low level pathways here and an abundance of trees! I made my way into one of the woodlands and slowly wandered through it, making my way towards Helsington. Just to the side of the main path there were several small mushrooms that were beginning to sprout out of the ground after the heavy rains, hidden amongst the few fallen leaves and tree roots which spread across the ground. You could hear the heavy rain hitting the outer leaves of the trees, but the canopy was thick enough that only a few rogue spots managed to fall through, keeping myself and the path relatively dry. At one point I found the perfect perch to overlook the woodland by a large yew tree, and I sat listening to the croaks and groans of the trees slightly swaying in the breeze and as each raindrop congregated on their leaves whilst I ate my packed lunch and finished my brew before slowly meandering back towards home.

One weekend after working the morning shift whilst it was a dry and somewhat-bright morning, we decided to grab the sunshine whilst we could and found ourselves parked up by the promenade at Arnside. There was a few spots of rain in the air, expected so close to the sea, but the breeze soon swept them away before they could settle on our coats. Although we could see some dark clouds on the horizon, it was still relatively dry enough that we knew we could go for a walk along the shore, with the option to hide in the woodland from the rain on our return. As the weather was due to turn, we had majority of the beech to ourselves, with only a couple people passing us in the opposite direction and no one behind us. When the wind changed direction and sprayed us with raindrops we found shelter where the coastline meets the raising soil of the woodland. By the time we had reached the wider part of the beach which is nestled between two sections of woodland, the sky across the estuary towards Grange-Over-Sands had began to darken, although there was a glimmer of hopeful sunshine behind the moody clouds, so we decided to enter Grubbins Wood instead of walking back along the shore. There are several routes in this woodland that all lead out towards the same point, so we decided to slowly meander up and down through the woodland as we waited for the better weather to come our way. Last time we wandered through here there were several patches of orange, thin pointy fungus resting on old tree branches and felled trunks, I was delighted to spot some of the early fungus risers tucked away on the quieter paths. As the wind picked up, the gaps in the canopy above widened and allowed more water to fall on us so we decided to head back down towards the main path to the car. By the time we had reached the open part of the path on the beach, the weather had soon eased off back to a manageable level, although the sunlight which had been peeking through the clouds was nowhere to be seen as we drove away.

One dry evening I wanted to just relax in the nice weather somewhere which would be dry with good views so I decided to have a wander up Cunswick Scar, as again it was a place easy to access and somewhere I hadn't been a while. I always forget how long the scar is once you turn past the Gamblesmire Lane crossroads, but there were just as many trees to provide shelter from the hot sunshine as I recalled. I wandered along the path which overlooked the Lyth Valley as I could see coloured jackets bobbing along the other path in the distance and I fancied somewhere quieter. I eventually stopped about halfway up the scar, and sat on a rocky outcrop and took in the vista before me. I could see the sunshine glinting off the tiny water channels that remained in the Kent estuary and the edge of Whitbarrow Scar blended into the Southern fells of the Lake District, with the tops of the fells in the Langdales poking over the horizon. After sitting for a while just losing myself in the view, I eventually slowly made my way back home after hearing voices and the sound of several dogs barking growing louder in the wind.

As I hadn't managed to get out much due to the weather, when we had a day off during the spout of good weather expected I knew I wanted to explore somewhere new. I settled on wandering up Reston Scar and Hugill Fell in Staveley as I had driven past this fell and seen people wandering up there countless times, yet I had never walked it despite its locality. Our walk took us up a small country lane before crossing into farmland and wandering up the farmers track onto the bottom of the scar. As we ascended it allowed us an aerial view over the village of Staveley, with more buildings and curves of the River Gowan appearing as we rose higher. The view disappeared as we dipped into a small valley between two parts of the scar formed by large rock faces and grassy verges. After following the path up onto the scar, a small tarn could be seen with the beginning of the Kentmere Valley beginning to form in the background, and towards the West the beginning of the Morecambe bay coast could be seen just before the clouds met the land. After sitting near the tarn to eat lunch, we made our way along the scar to where the cairn resides, which was aptly placed to welcome you with stunning views of both the central and southern fells, particularly those of the Langdales and the curves of Wetherlam. The view was framed by the rugged curves that framed the principle point of the scar, although the terrain under foot was gentle once reaching the top by the tarn. The colours of the scar contrasted beautifully against the blue of the sky, which accentuated the details in the grey rocks jutting out between the scattered clumps of rich orange and brown bracken, which were perfect for an interesting foreground photography wise! After wandering along the main edge, we dropped down into a enclosed area littered with trees which separated Reston Scar from the surrounding farmland, and our next destination: Hugill Fell.

After wandering through the small cluster of trees, a wooden style led us back onto Scar terrain, although this part was yet to be bathed in sunlight and we could see patches of water bordering the edge of the main path. The Lakeland fells which could previously be seen began to disappear from view as we made our way along the footpath/ Thankfully the boggy patches didn't cause too much of a detour as we crossed the field towards where the path turned up Hugill Fell, but we did have to walk the long way around one part which was more swamp-like than a bog with a precarious homemade crossing implements in place. This detour allowed us to look back over Reston Scar with the small tarn glistening under the sunlight, and we could see where we had sat to enjoy our lunch. After avoiding the swamp, the boggy areas began to decline as we made our way up the beginning of the fell. The wildlife at the top was similar to its neighbouring fell, but here was home to heather yet to lighten from its bordeaux colour, and the terrain took you up, down and around larger boulders and craggy rocks. Once reaching the top the view opens up to the Kentmere Valley, with the surrounding steep hills making the valley look like it tumbles down for miles and miles. This view was honestly breathe taking but I knew as I took several photographs it wouldn't capture the true beauty of this vista in a way to convey the breathtaking impact it had on me at first glance. The sunshine was coating the fell with a warm ambience, so we sat for a while on of the protruding rock faces taking in the view, and once the sunlight hit the trees in the valley at just the right angle, we could see the reservoir at Kentmere glistening between the evergreen leaves. After finishing our flasks of coffee, we descended back down towards Staveley, with the path zig zagging across the fell and the surrounding fells began to fill the space where blue sky previously lay.

As much as I may complain about the rain, it has allowed all the wildlife and flowers to bloom in abundance, making my walks to walk that little bit more colourful! It's the simple things like a sunflower poking over the hedge or the path of a bee taking my eyeline down to delicate lilac and baby pink flowers which can brighten up an overcast walk to work. There's been an abundance of cherry blossom trees and vibrant garden beds on my usual loop which includes the Castle as the central point. It is just nice to get out and enjoy these flowers whenever I can in the summer, because as much as I love the autumn colours, one windy day and they're gone until the spring! You've always got to look for the little things to make you smile on those cloudier days!

Make sure you keep your fingers crossed that the nicer weather sticks around for a little while longer before the seasons change!