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" Under Mellbreak on a Spring Day "
Date & start time: 22nd March 2020. 4.15 pm start.
Location of Start : By the red phone box, Loweswater, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 143 211 )
Places visited : Kirkstile car park, Kirkhead Farm, Flass Woods, Low Park and home.
Walk details : 2.4 mls, 550 ft of ascent, 1 hours 20 mins.
Highest point : The bluff under Raven Crag, 875ft - 270m above sea level.
Walked with : Myself and our dogs, Dylan and Dougal.
Weather : Sunshine and blue skies. A light breeze.
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On a beautiful Spring day I set off for a local walk with the specific aim of meeting no-one . . . self-isolation is the key for quite some time.
Between when I did this walk and the time I posted the web page the national picture changed once again.
The serious nature of the Covid-19 epidemic has become even more apparent.
So you can't get much closer to home than the garden.
I have a feeling it is going to be very well tended in the coming weeks.
The extensive wild flower seeds that I spread late autumn (to over-winter) have certainly been subjected to the extremes of 'cold and wet'.
There's no sign but let's hope the seeds have survived, it is still cold here so not a lot is starting to grow yet apart from the Spring bulbs.
Last year I noticed the ducks, and even at one point a black crow, eating the frog spawn
so this year hopefully I'm giving them a helping hand . . . a roof over their heads to keep the ducks away.
Both the large and the small willows are starting to show some colour as they emerge from winter.
Our first lambs . . . not born in the field but back at the local farm and moved here by the farmer to start their outdoor life.
The lambs are all less than a week old and it is lovely to see them exploring the field in the warm sunshine.
- - - o o o - - -
The dogs need some exercise too, so while the sun still adds warmth to the day I take them out for a stroll.
This is Gillerthwaite House (The Old Post Office) with Grasmoor and Rannerdale Knotts behind.
An old oak hangs on to life . . . too early for it to start showing any colour from new leaves yet.
In the distance are the high fells of Green Gable and Great Gable, looking good in the beautiful sunshine.
The Kirkstile Inn with the classic view of Mellbreak behind.
Having to shut the bar and restaurant, they put plans in place for a take away service, but that too has been cancelled even before it even got underway.
The Beer Garden is officially closed . . .
by the end of the walk the decision would have been made to close the whole Kirkstile operation for now.
The last staff car sits in what is now an empty car park . . . strange times.
I'm heading out on a low level round "Underneath Mellbreak", a walk we do once or twice each week.
The houses at Low Park, including an old barn, which I would be passing towards the end of the walk.
To the side of the Mosedale Track is an often ignored, raised earthwork.
No-one really knows but it is thought to be the outline of a medieval fort or enclosure from pre-16th Century.
It is also thought that much of the stone from the original structure was commandeered at a later date to build the field walls of this lane.
The Mosedale track heads south, high above the river in the valley below.
In due course it will dip to meet at a river crossing and rise again behind Hen Comb, heading for Ennerdale.
I leave the track once I have a clear view up the valley to Starling Dodd.
Then my route heads up through the gorse and bracken, aiming for the bluff under the crags of Mellbreak's northern ascent route.
The view back as I zig-zag up the steep slope.
Ahead now are the 'matching pair' of Darling Fell and Low Fell.
Nearly at the highest point for me today, marked by this old tree enclosure.
In fact there are several on the side of the fell here and more heading off to the heather covered slopes under the crags.
I imagine, as the enclosures are too big for individual trees, perhaps they were some sort of experiment
to see what would grow if the sheep were excluded . . . all very well but time had destroyed the fencing and the sheep graze them anyway !
I walk across to the main track up Mellbreak, which rises from the fire break in the woodland below.
The panorama includes the Loweswater Valley with its lake and to the left
the Lorton valley which drains the river water away towards Cockermouth and the sea to the right.
From here I can see the full extent of the new woodland that has been planted behind our red phone box.
It partly fills the field between the pub, the Vicarage and Rose Cottage and extends above the Vicarage too.
Down below another field pond which is hardly ever dry, especially in the last few years.
It is in a dip, a bit like a kettle-lake, as there is nowhere for the water to escape.
In the dry summer it really stands out as the grass on the mounds change colour.
[ The second picture here is from a different walk as I forgot to take one, even though I promised myself that I would when I passed it close at hand.]
A lone Swaledale Sheep roaming this part of the fell.
My route down, higher than the normal Flass Woods path, keeps me closer under the crags.
You can't see it here but I spotted a pair of peregrines flying under the fell, so I changed lens in case they came back.
Fortunately one landed on an old tree about a hundred yards or so away from me.
The picture has been cropped and enlarged to see the detail . . . what a fine sight to see.
To my delight the other bird flew over and settled on the tree alongside the first.
Did I say that spring was in the air ?
I was lucky and privileged to catch sight of the pair mating on the tree branch way above me.
With the correct lens already loaded I took a few photos whilst the birds screeched and twittered out loud.
Looking at the timestamp of the photos afterwards the whole event took barely five or six seconds . . . a rare and lucky privilege indeed.
Afterwards the female (I presume) sat to enjoy the moment . . .
. . . while the male flew off to the crags to do the same.
No picture from the woods itself as I found myself back at Low Park before I knew it. My thoughts must have been elsewhere.
You occasionally see wild bird behavior like that on the television. I was offered a rare treat today.
Low Park Bridge on the way home.
Looking back at Mellbreak as I cross the fields near our home.
Who knows what nature will throw at us humans in the weeks to come
but the valley at least has the prospect of a peregrine family up there, nesting somewhere on Mellbreak for the rest of the summer.- - - o o o - - -
Take care, stay well, and here's to the next local walk, I wonder if it will be just as exciting.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . .a surprise around the corner.
Previous walk - 20th March 2020 - Self-Isolation on the Mosser Track
A previous time up here - 2nd June 2011 Mellbreak with the Family