Apparently Alfred Wainwright was rather disparaging of Alcock Tarn, nestled below Butter Crag east of Grasmere. Personally I enjoyed my swim in this peaceful small tarn. The views from Grey Crag were a bonus!
Sign to Alcock Tarn
We managed to find a lay-by with free parking alongside the A591, and took the path behind the Swan Hotel, following signs for Alcock Tarn. The walk, though steep in parts was very picturesque. We followed a babbling Greenhead Ghyll and had luscious views of Helm Crag and Grasmere as we quickly gained height. The whole walk was beautiful, possibly attributed to the blissful weather we were lucky to have. The whole walk was a positive experience for me.
It took about an hour to get to the shores of Alcock Tarn, previously called Butter Crag Tarn. In the 1800’s Mr Alcock of Grasmere had enlarged the tarn to stock with trout! There were lots of minnows in the shallows when we set up camp.
Our arrival was welcomed by two female mallards who quickly made a beeline for us. Both came onto land and one, searching for food pecked at my toes as I got undressed. The ducks were so cute, one even sat next to David whilst I took to the waters.
Alcock Tarn female mallards
Swimming at Alcock Tarn
The swim itself was divine. I entered the water when there was no other walkers about and had the tarn to myself, David and the two ducks. I thoroughly enjoyed the 8° waters and wish I could have stayed in longer. The wind was not as cutting as it was at Scales Tarn, Blencathra. Even though I swam through reeds they were manageable. Pipits called from the hills and peacefulness pervaded. I was in the water for about 15 minutes before I started to feel cold.
We picnicked on shore, sharing our lunch with the ducks while I warmed up. I could have stayed there all day.
David wanted to explore the area and so we ended up walking towards Grey Crag overlooking a resplendent Grasmere with Windermere glistening in the distance. I was drunk on the colour green! The whole countryside looked vibrant in the noontime sunshine.
Sadly it was time we retraced our steps back towards the car. The whole day was wonderful. It was the best swim/walk of the weekend. Perhaps this was due to having no expectations?
Have you visited Alcock Tarn? What are your favourite walks around Grasmere?
I’ve been wanting to update you all in a Sunday Sevens (devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins), for a few weeks now but have not had enough photo content to warrant a post. However I’ve decided to put together pictures from the past two weeks. I hope you enjoy the update?
Sundays have become days when we are joined by members of our family and take Riley on a long walk. Last weekend we visited Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve and walked six miles following the paths overlooking flocks of black tailed godwits and teals.
At Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve
Black Tailed Godwit
This Sunday we took a leisurely 4.5 miles walk around Liverpool’s Otterspool Prom and Festival Gardens in thick mist. It made for some atmospheric pictures.
David and Riley
David and Riley
A walk in the mist
The days are noticeably getting longer! This week I have managed to walk 48 miles, which brings my overall total to 356 miles. I am enjoying every step!
Book I am reading:
I’ve just finished reading Joanna Cannon’s Three things About Elsie. I won’t spoil the plot for you but I found many passages in the novel profound. The last chapter had me in tears! Have you read a novel that has affected you?
Three Things About Elsie
For my next read I have picked up JoJo Moyes’s last installment of the Me Before You trilogy, Still Me. Have you read any of these books?
With all the early Spring-like weather we have been having recently in the UK, the plants in the yarden are beginning to wake up! During winter I feared for the raspberry but I’ve recently noticed new leaves starting to sprout! The crocus is giving the yarden a splash of colour and there are bluebells leafing. The greatest surprise was that the camellia which usually flowers in April has already begun to bloom!
Saturday, David and I visited Burton Mere Wetlands. It’s the first reserve we’ve visited with our new membership. We spent an enjoyable three hours and 4.6 miles walking the trails and viewing the pools from the hides.
Christine and Robin
I love discovering new species and learning about them. We saw a flock of redshank, shoveler ducks and a little egret. I can’t wait to visit another RSPB site in the future. Where do you think I should visit next?
To keep himself occupied, David has been baking. He first made an espresso devil’s food cake and then chocolate chip cookies. They were both very yummy if not fattening!
Devil’s Food Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Walks with Riley:
Last Sunday David and I, with Riley in tow visited a cold Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve. We walked three miles around the reserve and observed hundreds of teals flying around the frozen pools. We were also blessed to see two roe deer bounding towards woodland.
Christine and Riley
My miles for this week has been 45, bringing my annual total to date to 260 miles.
A Year in Books:
My Year in Books is not going so well. I am still plodding my way through Minette Walter’s medieval novel, The Turn of Midnight. I am enjoying this book far better than the first but I am only snatching moments to read whilst on the bus to work. In preparation for future reads I’ve bought more books! I’ve a library full of classics to read but just can’t face them! So I keep buying more modern titles.
What book/s are you enjoying at present?
This week David and I have become members of the RSPB. I still had money from my birthday and Christmas, so I decided to purchase a RSPB membership as there are a few reserves nearby that I want to revisit, Leighton Moss being one of them.
My Wild City
My Wild City:
Also this week I signed up to participate in the Wildlife Trusts’, My Wild City. The aim is to ‘reconnect people with their gardens, and local green spaces to create wildlife corridors for both people and wildlife.’ The initiative is aimed at Manchester but I decided to sign up anyway and see what my small yarden can do. Perhaps you can sign up too?
Beach (bonus picture):
Selfie at Formby Point
Today we took Riley to Formby Point, my brother and his girlfriend, Ashlea came along for the ride. Much fun was had by all.
I was inspired to write this post after visiting Sheffield’s herd of elephants and writing about it in my Sunday Sevens #15. Mark at worldwarzoogardener1939 commented that Paignton Zoo are doing a trail with rhinos and Marwell Zoo have Zany Zebras gracing the streets of Southampton this summer! I would love to visit them all but 2016 seems to be the busiest year regarding animal street art in the UK! One of the biggest promoters of these events is Wild in Art, check out their website for past and future events.
Over the past eight years David and I have been lucky enough to visit a fair amount of trails, stretching as far north as Aberdeen, to Norwich in the east! My first encounter with these colourful animals was the Manchester Cow Parade in 2004. Since then there has been an explosion of animals gracing the cities and towns of the UK. From lions in Bournemouth to horses in Hamilton. Below is a selection of the trails we have seen. Enjoy!
2008 was the year of Liverpool’sCapital of Culture. During the summer, 120 6ft lambananasgraced the city’s streets. I have fond memories of seeking each and every one of them out, there was even one atop Moel Famau in North Wales!
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The winter of 2009 saw 135 5ft penguins bring cheer to the cold streets of Liverpool, St Helens and the Wirral. I don’t think they were as successful as the lambananas the previous year, even David seemed jaded in seeing them all. However I managed to capture them all on camera and even a few months after the auction date, acquired one for myself. A hint of madness but our home wouldn’t be the same without Snowy standing sentinel under the stairs!
Staying in the North West, Chester in 2010 had a herd of rhinos career through their streets.
Also in 2010, Skipton found they had a flock of sheep bringing cheer to their town…
..and we visited Newport for the first of their two Super Dragon trails.
2011 saw two very diverse trails. The first was in Congleton where a sleuth of bears had taken up residence.
The second was in Edinburgh, where the city was transformed into a jungle for the summer.
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In 2012 it looked like David and I never visited any art trails, though in fairness we did buy our first house!
2013, looked more promising! My appetite was reawakened when I saw some of the LindtEaster eggs. You can read my post here.
The summer of 2013 saw us visiting a spate of trails. We visited Manchester for the national tour of the Elephant Parade. Read my post here.
2014 saw David and I take a tour to Aberdeen, Scotland to see their pod of dolphins in torrential rain! Read my post here.
2015 saw us returning to Norwich to see their Go Go Dragons trail. I am always impressed with the quality of art from this city! I look forward to seeing what their hares look like in 2017!
Also in 2015 Liverpool had their celebration of ducks which commemorated the history of the city.
While Birmingham witnessed a parliament of owls in their Big Hoot!
As I’ve said previously 2016 will see more trails than ever before. There are pigs inIpswich,snowdogs in Brighton and Hove and Newcastle and Tyne and Wear, and lions in Paisley. That is just to name a few! Sheffield’s herd of elephants are on the streets until 5th October when they will be auctioned off for charity like most of the above. They are a great way of getting the public behind a charitable cause and can raise hundreds of pounds!
Have you seen/followed any animal sculpture trail? What do you think of the initiative? What kind of animal would you like turned into art next?
Knowing that David had Thursday off work, I had high hopes that we would have another great outdoors adventure! David was in agreement, however he pinned his hopes on seeing the sunrise hit the mountains around Haweswater Reservoir, Cumbria, (inspired by Thomas Heaton‘s Youtube post.
The Rigg and Haweswater
Unfortunately, the bugbear for me was that we live at least two hours drive from Cumbria and the sunrise on Thursday being at 7.11am, meant that I had to get up at 4am!! I’m a terrible sleeper at the best of times, so I knew this plan would seriously upset my circadian rhythm.
Despite this hiccup, I longed to get out of the house and breathe the free air again! So I agreed. The alarm clock sounded at 4am and I crawled out of bed after a fitful sleep, for breakfast and to get dressed.
By 5am, the car had been packed and so we hit the road.
It took us just over two hours to get to Haweswater Reservoir. We parked up with the first rays of dawn touching the tops of the mountains. We scurried up Swinside Common in the hope of catching the moon above Kidsty Pike, but alas we failed and only had sore calves to show for our climb.
We spent over an hour taking hundreds of pictures in -7° temperatures.
With it being just after 8am, we drove to Derwentwater for a two hour leisurely walk along the banks of the lake, with Blencathra (Saddleback) looking resplendent in the winter sunshine. We took the route to the lake via Kewsick and took the road towards Portinscale then on towards the Adventure Centre. There is free parking but this can get very busy.
Derwentwater is fast becoming my second favourite lake in Cumbria. The lakeside was so tranquil, it healed my soul. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. I got covered in mud on the return journey but it was worth it as I even had a go of a swing tied to a tree by Hawes End Jetty. The Jetty can be found by taking a path through woodland as you walk towards the Adventure Centre.
There were many ducks and geese quietly drifting on the lake. The woodland walk was graced with the drumming of woodpeckers and the cackle of blue tits. On our journey back to the car David spied a pheasant feather lying on the ground, so I took it as a memento of our lovely day.
Friendly ducks. Photo by David Evans
I am busily planning the next adventure. Do you have any suggestions of where to go?
Monday was the beginning of my ‘much needed’ week off work. I started it by going for a coffee with my mum! We braved the drizzle and took the bus to Allerton and our favourite Costa! It was a nice indulgent treat but the indulgence didn’t end there! The next day Mum and I went to Liverpool One’s Odeon and went to see Jurassic World! It was an enjoyable romp and it was nice to just switch off for a change! There were some nail biting moments which had mum and I squealing like children! 😀
I spent the ‘hump’ with Artie who seemed to enjoy the company.
In the garden:
There has been a flurry of activity at the feeders this week. Visiting were lots of baby Starlings all greedily helping themselves to the fat balls. Amongst all the flapping of wings were four House Sparrows, two males and two females. They happily explored the garden. I saw them under the Honeysuckle and at one stage all sitting in the branches of the small Buddleia I have in a pot! However they do not stay still for long and we believe we have more Sparrows visiting than first thought. I am hopeful they will continue to visit the feeders, they have such lovely sweet characters.
There were also the many Goldfinch ‘charms’ visiting. One family must have been successful at rearing their young as they brought about four babies to the feeders. All are welcome! 😀
I had to dig up my Michaelmas Daisy as the mildew was spreading to other flowers. The vinegar spray did not help I am afraid! Looks like I’ll be heading to Lady Green Garden Centre in the near future!
The rest of the week:
David had Thursday and Friday off. So on the first day, we went to Trentham Gardens, Stoke on Trent to see their art instillation of fairies, by local artist Robin Wright. We got in for the 2 for 1 offer via Stoke on Trent’s tourist website. Saved us nearly £10! The next four hours was spent walking along the mile long lake, viewing the many art displays in-situ and enjoying their gardens.
While walking we came across a flash of colour! It was a small part of the lakeside given over to wild flowers. The sight was stunning!
One of the attractions at Trentham was their Bare Foot Walk. I had decided the night before that if I had the chance I would try it. So in anticipation I packed with our lunch a small towel to wipe my feet! 🙂 David thought I was mad, but I threw off my shoes and socks and jumped on the wooden stepping stones.
Bare Foot Walk at Trentham Gardens
The wood was presently warm and comfortable unlike some other surfaces I encountered. Small stones, wood chips and coals were the hardest and most difficult to walk on. I made very slow progress!
The excitement of the day really knocked us out! So come the evening we relaxed and watched Maleficent.
Friday dawned cloudy and cool, We decided to make the most of the day and headed towards Lancashire to see the Pendle Sculpture Trail at Aitken Wood. I don’t know if it was due to still being tired from the day before or the fact that we seemed to get hounded by horrid flies for the two hours we were walking (one even tried to bite me!), I didn’t enjoy the day as much as I thought I would! The weather didn’t play ball either as it was rather windy on the hills and the sun rarely showed!
The wood was good for wildlife spotting and we bemoaned the fact that we should have brought our ‘bigger’ cameras instead of our phones! We really were not equipped for taking any decent nature sightings. Another visit will be on the cards in the future!
On the walk we spotted:
A Linnet, but not 100% certain.
Tuffted Ducks though again I am not certain. I really wished I’d brought my bird ID book!
Great or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Blue, Great and Coal Tits, I recognised them! 🙂
Seven butterflies, two were Red Admirals and two Gatekeepers!
A few moths
A hawk hunting, could have been a Merlin, though not certain! 😦
My identification skills are decent enough for when it comes to garden birds, but when I am faced with birds I don’t see regularly then I find them difficult to ID! I think many more days out in the country are needed to hone my skills!
Saturday turned out at be a busy affair as we had family around for a curry and film night! We ordered from my favourite takeaway, Saffron and the film we snuggled up to watch was The Kingsman, it had it’s funny moments!
Now Sunday has arrived and I’m feeling blue, work looms gloomily on the horizon! I’ve enjoyed my time off work so much! Maybe too much! It’s been lovely. I have spent time with family and seen and experienced new things. I’ve spent today at home with David and Artie and tried to get my nervous finches to feed from the hand. Two already have the courage, Chocolate (Bengalese) and Rainbow (Gouldian) but poor Romeo (Bengalese) is still hesitant!
Friday, David and I both had the day off work and we drove the two hours to Doncaster to, Yorkshire Wildlife Park. We had visited preciously but this time I wanted to see the newly arrived Polar Bears. YWP has two at the moment, Victor and his grandson Pixel.
Pixel was the more active of the two as can be expected and I enjoyed seeing him frolic in the huge lake they have in their enclosure. We stopped to listen to the Polar Bear talk and the keeper said they hope to house up to at least eight male Polar Bears! That will be something to behold!
In their collection YWP also have shy Amur Leopards and Tigers. There was one Amur Tiger on show, (the other is off show nursing cubs!). The Tiger showed a spectacular Flehmen response to a smell on a bush. This is when the cat smells a scent and shows its teeth by scrunching up its nose. Even domesticated cats do it as well!
We spent 4 hours at the park and left at 3 pm, ‘in plenty of time to miss the rush hour traffic’, I thought! We were not so blessed as when we visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park the previous weeks as it was intermittent driving and then stopping from the M1 to the M62! We hadn’t even reached the dreaded M60 before it was 5pm and David was starting to feel dizzy!
I managed to get David to agree on stopping off at a service station. Birch was only 1 mile away when the dizzy spells started, probably brought on by too much driving, sun stroke and hunger! We both had a Costa each and then David had a Burger King chicken sandwich and I had a very fattening vegi burger. At 26g of fat I would have opted for the salad if I had known! I wish fast food could be healthy as well as convenient! The break did us both good. It roused my spirits and as we hit the motorway again, the traffic jams eased so it was a straight, none stop route back home! Poor Artie was left alone for 11 hours straight, he must have thought we had deserted him!
On Saturday, not content with walking for miles the previous day, we headed into Liverpool city centre to wander the streets in search of ducks! We followed the Aquaducked map and snapped the 20 ducks on display. They each informed of 20 firsts that had happened in Liverpool! Amongst one of my favourites was the Beetles Duck. It was indeed colourful!