Nov&Dec: Farewell To 2020!

...And thank goodness for that! This year has certainly been an odd one, and I'm sure most of us will be glad to see the back of it and approach life with a fresh view for 2021! Usually I'd do a bit of a roundup of the year, but given how 2020 has been I wouldn't have much to say bar from my holiday away and managing to complete a few Wainwrights with my Grandad and I've talked about some of these events in recent blogs away! I think especially with the events of the year we are better looking forward, only appreciating the special moments of 2020 rather than dwelling on the negatives!

Lockdown has probably made way for me to get out more in the daytime for walks, and given that the weather is pretty pants this time of year, it usually means I have plenty of walking areas to myself! I don't mind doing more road-based walking during the winter months as its usually pretty quiet from both cars and people, but plenty of light that you're not blundering around in the dark! This time of year also means that people are decorating their houses for Christmas, and whilst on my wanders I had noticed that there were much more houses than usual decorating, and a lot of them had begun much earlier than previous years! After the year we've had, we could all do with some cheesy Christmas decorations and an abundance of fairy-lights to brighten our days! I have, of course, been continuing to do my loop around the graveyard and the ruined castle - I've found that the grey days really add to the ambience and they are both perfect spots for watching the sunset, and scouting out estates which have put up their Christmas decorations!

As we hadn't visited Warton Crag since last year, which was in the peak of summer, we thought it would be a nice idea to visit here during the winter to see how the scenery changes. When we arrived, we could only see a couple walking together ahead of us, so we decided to take the opposite route round, which happened to be the reverse of the route we walked last year. You don't realise how much you miss by just walking/facing one direction, so it was lovely to experience the wooded area at the bottom of the crag from a different perspective! With this, we noticed many more paths trailing off the main route which had passed us by last time, and we weaved on and off these different paths as we approached the incline of the hill. We could hear the occasional voice carrying through the trees from the top of the crag, but bar from a springer spaniel suddenly bounding around a corner followed by his owner, we didn't see a soul on our paths less travelled. The evergreen foliage surrounding us was predominant to the eye as it rested against the soft oranges and browns of the remnants of autumn, still clinging to some branches or laying on the forest floor. The lack of leaves on those smaller trees or shrubs that rest beside the path meant that several types of mushrooms/fungi kept catching my eye, in particular I noticed quite a lot of White Staghorns claiming fallen down or felled tree trunks as their new home. We also noticed that besides the main path, formed from an old track/road, there was an evergreen clump of trees which looked so welcoming with the rays of sunshine managing to break their way between their leaves, and although it was small, it felt like walking in a thick forest, and the voices from the top of the crag could be heard no more.

After leaving the woodland at the end of the track, we began walking up towards the principle point of Warton Crag, where the number of trees began to decline whilst shrubbery and gauze bushes reclaimed the land. Upon reaching the top of the fell, with the fire beacon and trig point marking your arrival, we were greeted with blue skies which the thick tree canopy had been keeping out of sight. The voices we could previously hear carrying in the wind were matched to the faces when we reached the top, a couple of different sets of walkers had found their way to the top and were beginning to descend the same way they arrived. After leaving the area home to the trig and the beacon, we detoured off the main path and away from those walkers approaching us and the top of the crag, towards the rock formation known to the local as 'The Seven Sisters' - a group of precariously balanced stones resting upon one of the craggy outcrops with fantastic views over Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells. The shore and monument at Jenny Brown's Point over at Silverdale was clear as day in comparison to the empty tree branches and the rocky outcrop it rests upon, and dependent on whether the sun's rays managed to break through the cloud or not, the Hoad monument at Ulverston could be seen standing with pride on the horizon. The weather wasn't quite as clear towards the Lancashire coast, but Heysham port could be clearly seen. After taking in the views, we headed back down off the crag, leaving the coastal views behind us in trade for the woodland canopy forming the nature reserve. Whilst wandering through here, we kept changing paths onto those less-travelled, passing the rock face of Warton crag before eventually ending up at our car.

One weekend we decided to find somewhere new to walk, and we usually find that looking for a geocache loop is a pretty good way of discovering exciting places! With this, we decided to explore the area between Crossthwaite and Winster to see what exciting things were waiting for us. Straight away, as we wandered up part of the road before reaching our first public footpath of many, in the field next to us there was a large bird of prey sitting on a rock, about to take off. I managed to get some blurry zoomed in shots of it, and after showing them to my Grandad and doing a bit of a google search, we think it was potentially an eagle on holiday from bonnie Scotland! The public footpaths took us off the windy road, cutting out much of the bends, and when crossing higher land fields of green and tops of the central Lakeland fells could be seen. Eventually our footpaths led us through into a small wooded area with open fell land which were spotting several different types of mushrooms and fungi in our search for geocaches. This area was quiet and peaceful, a much welcomed feeling in amongst all the uncertainty of the pandemic, so we slowly circled this area before deciding to head back towards the car, taking alternative footpaths to the ones we had just previously walked. Again, this route allowed us to take in the stunning views surrounding us, as well as finding a few more geocaches and taking our total finds up to 13! The walk had the perfect finish when there was a gorgeous ginger cat lurking by our car, who after we couldn't resist petting it, tried to jump in our car with us as we removed our walking boots!

Another lockdown means that my Grandad in Coniston has to stay safe and minimise any risks of covid, so he now has his personal home shoppers! I absolutely adore Coniston, but I can't say I've seen it much during in the winter, so it's been lovely to experience the village all year round. November in itself offered us a wide variety of climates, from warm autumn days to torrential downpour followed by the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen! One rainbow followed us all the way home from Coniston as we just managed to keep one step ahead from the rain, which certainly brightened up the journey home! I've also been getting the occasional stretch of my legs in this area too, as although my flat is in a fantastic location for several walks, that does mean that there can be quite a lot of people coming and going past my house, and I'd prefer to minimise the amount of contact I have with people on my walks! Yew Tree Tarn has been perfect for this as I can gage how busy it would be by how many cars there are, and its a short circuit with substantial views. Just those few minutes by the water or wandering through the evergreen trees can satisfy my need for fresh air and to be surrounded by nature! On one of these food deliveries, I decided to take a quick detour around the east side of Coniston Water as I was planning on driving home via Newby Bridge as my usual route through Ambleside had been quite busy that morning, although I am glad to note that Coniston village itself has seemed to be quiet and respecting the lockdown rules. I couldn't resist stopping by one of the piers hidden amongst the trees to capture the reflection of the snow-capped Coniston fells reflecting in the water which shares its name. Seeing that tiny bit of snow has made me excited to see whether 2021 will allow for some proper wintery scenes!

As this year comes to an end, let's stay hopeful that by this time next year life will be much brighter and happier!