Monday, 29 August 2011

Look closely ...

I have been working on a range of tasks this last week including one of the more unpleasant ones that crop up at intervals.  A dead sheep at the lake shore had to be removed.  It’s not something that most people would want to encounter on a walk and would also be a health hazard so somebody had to move it.  It is definitely not one of the enjoyable parts of my job!

To mark 100 years of work in the Lake District

We are now in the busiest part of the year for visitor numbers and there are more people who need to be reminded that some camping is inappropriate – we explain and ask them to move on.   Wild camping in out-of-the-way places by pitching a tent at sundown, striking it at sunrise and leaving the site in good order is not a problem.  Camping on the lake shore, encroaching on the enjoyment of many others and leaving behind a mess for others to clean up is not good.

The Millennium Stone in Calf Close Bay

As well as monitoring the condition and uses of the area, with the help of some of our great volunteers, we managed to carry out some more maintenance and improvement.  A gate at Broomhill Point was suffering from sheer wear and tear so we repaired that.  We also ramped in a small bridge at Calf Close Bay to make it accessible for wheelchair users and others with limited mobility.

Work in progress

Good job done.

An audience!

We ended our week when a group of Trust staff had their own camping expedition organized by Naomi.  The weather forecast was not good so we chose a sheltered site on Force Crag.  We were joined by Geoff‘s 6 year old daughter Lily and by several dog companions. 

It was breezy and wet during the night but cleared well enough for a walk to High Force the following day.  On this occasion we had time to spot some of the smaller delights of the area.

Miniature fungus

The red fruiting body of one of the Cladonia species of lichens 

It was a good experience and, of course, we did leave the site clean!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Around northern Spain on bikes.

Finally the cycle training that I have previously mentioned was put to use when Jan and I made a cycling and camping trip to the Picos de Europa area of northern Spain. Fortunately, queuing alongside big, noisy motor-bikes to board the Plymouth-Santander ferry did not set the scene for the rest of trip!

I thought you would like to see a few photographs.

Typical architecture of the region.

A hint of Cuba ?  A museum building funded by a Spanish √©migr√© to Cuba who had 'made good'.

A wild flower meadow.

Wild crocus and eryngium (often known as sea-holly).
Picos de Europa is a spectacular Karst limestone landscape with scattered hamlets and villages, roads that are in great condition and drivers that allow plenty of space for cyclists.  Many of the smaller settlements we saw are so remote that they have no mains services and, as is becoming common in rural communities, often no young people. 

This settlement had a very large dog patrolling

Some have large dogs roaming freely to protect stock against wolves.  We also came across cattle wandering freely along the road in little danger from the rare cars.

Ambling along apparently at leisure.

The days developed an enjoyable routine of cycling into the afternoon, finding a good camping spot and then a local restaurant for good food with a bottle of wine.  We even managed to fit in the occasional afternoon snooze!

Definitely at leisure!

The one exception was the day when I went off on my own to do a circular route around the Picos – a distance of 200km and 2000m ascent which took 10 hours.  Yes, I was saddle-sore that day!

As ever, we found that people we met were very friendly and welcoming.  Our little Spanish and their often similarly scant English were easily overcome with the use of please, thank you, smiling and pointing.  A few other encounters were acknowledged with the camera!

Mother and daughter.

A griffon vulture on a thermal.

This character was exploring our tent one night!

A robin that made a few exploratory flights through our tent.

We took everything we needed in panniers on Jan’s bike and a small trailer behind mine and we had a brilliant time.  It is definitely an area to enjoy if you want a good cycling trip.

My bike, a small trailer and a good road - who needs more?

Monday, 1 August 2011

The sum of small parts.

We have just had a spell of near perfect walking weather (sunny, warm but not too hot, and dry) so there have been large numbers of walkers taking advantage of it.  Even so, it is still possible to walk for much of a day and meet few others as I discovered when I did my quarterly safety checks on the fencing and warning signs of some of the old mining sites.

Reiver was obviously feeling in good form and she came with me.

A happy dog.
A happier dog?

I also take the opportunity to check for signs of dangerous or even illegal activity.  We have had one occasion where a landslip had revealed the remnants of the old mining way of life including old tools and even the candle stubs in holes in the walls.  After discussing it with the Trust’s archaeologist, I returned the next day to photograph as much as possible only to find that the mine had been entered overnight and everything easily moved had been stolen.  Our archaeologist had no chance to see how these things would have contributed to the story of mining in the Lakes.  The other temptation of course is for people who want yet another specimen for their mineral collection – they don’t seem to fully realize the risks they take by entering old shafts.

Fortunately this time there was nothing obvious to cause concern and the day was marked by those small events that add up to a good day.

A crowd on the hill!
Be careful where you plant your boots.
High walking and low flying.
A Small Heath butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilis - I checked in a field guide!)

If you are wondering, Reiver has a swim on her way back so she arrives home clean!