Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba and shows some very unusual melting ice beside a gravel road.
We had another warm and sunny day here, which was just as well as the main business of the day was a good walk in the hills.
I had time to enjoy the play of shadow and sunlight on the bird feeder before I went off to meet the other walkers at the Kilngreen.
The guided walk had been arranged as part of the ongoing celebrations of the community buy out of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. As locals still refer to the land as ‘the moor’, the walks were billed as a ‘Tour o’ the Moor’. The walk that I had chosen was one which had been featured in the first of these celebrations. On that occasion in early October last year, the weather had been terrible and I had promised myself a second go when the weather had improved. This was my opportunity.
In spite of the fine weather, only four walkers turned up and with two walk leaders, Charlie and Ken, it was a small but enthusiastic party that got a lift in a minibus up to the White Yett and started the walk.
As well as better weather, we also did the circular walk in the opposite direction today, so it was a new experience in every way.
I took far too many pictures so I have put most of them in galleries. Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can click on the galleries to see individual pictures at a larger scale.
We started off by dropping down into the Little Tarras valley. Walking conditions were perfect, with plenty of sunshine but not too much heat, a very gentle breeze and remarkably dry going underfoot.
We made our way up the far side of the Little Tarras Valley to Middlemoss, serenaded by reed buntings and delighted by the views. (I didn’t have my bird camera with me and my little Lumix did the best that it could.)
We saw some distant goats as we walked up the track from Middlemoss, and while we were watching them, a cyclist came puffing up the hill behind us. He was on an adventurous ride, going over some of the route that we were walking, so he got off his bike and walked up to the end of the road with us. This may have been a sociable instinct, or it may be been the realisation that he would have been hard pushed to cycle up this steep and rough track any faster than we would be walking just behind him.
We parted company with him at the road and he whizzed off down into the Tarras valley. We walked sedately down the hill, stopping when we came across several goat families quite close to the road . . .
. . . and a magnificent fungus which gets a picture of its own.
At the bridge over the Tarras Water, we came across of broken down motor bicycle. Its owner was trying to raise the AA by using an app on his phone without any success. He faced a good walk to find some better reception.
We left him to it, and followed the road beside the Tarras Water.
One of the many good things about today’s walk was the varied terrain. After going down and up open hillside, and then up a steep and rough farm track, we were now on smooth road in a peaceful valley for a while.
When we came to a flat beside the river with a handy bench, we sat and ate our packed lunches.
The lunchtime entertainment was provided by the rippling waters of the river, a shiny mallard, more goats, and several pied wagtails.
Fortified by our lunch, we headed on along the river side road, now serenaded by meadow pipits, crossed the river and headed up the hill out of the valley on a forestry track.
When we got well up the track, we turned off onto rough ground again, and headed to the col between the Tarras and Ewes valleys at just under 1000 ft.
At the col, we crossed a wall by a steeply sloping stile, and walked diagonally across a very mossy hillside until we came to the wall that would guide us back to the White Yett along the ridge between the valleys.
At Hog Fell, we reached the highest point on our walk at 371 meters (1217 feet) but we still had some hard work to do as we slogged along the undulating ridge back to our starting point. Clouds had come over. This was probably not a bad thing from the point of view of keeping us cool, but it made taking pictures of the many fine views on both sides as we walked along a rather hit and miss affair.
Thank to excellent leadership from Charlie and Ken, after nine miles of steady walking, incessant conversation and hundreds of photographs between us, we arrived back at the minibus pick up point bang on time.
The walk was rounded off by a very welcome cup of tea and a dainty cake at the old Tourist Office on the Kilngreen.
It really couldn’t have been a better outing: the route was well chosen, the weather was perfect, the leadership of the walk extremely competent, the company was both convivial and able to walk at the same speed as each other, a rare thing on a guided walk, and nobody’s legs or boots gave any trouble.
Mrs Tootlepedal had moved the bird feeder while I was out and I can now get really good close ups of the birds feeding (and shouting).
And to cap it all, Mrs Tootlepedal had made a really tasty trifle to have as afters at our evening meal.
This was a day that can be unhesitatingly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.
The flying bird of the day is one of the shady morning chaffinches.