A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Up


 Tying Up on the River Lazy where it  meets the Duddon Estuary on the Cumbrian coast.


Up high, glad I'm not at the top of this very long ladder in Leeds.


Stepping Up on the 'Sandstone Trail' steps on Bickerton Hill, Cheshire.

where there is a nice view up at the top of Broxton village but some find the undergrowth smells more interesting 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at U here


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Trees

Wouldn't you just know I had lots of words starting with the letter S to choose from for last week's ABC Wednesday, but this week, unless you are interesting in tractors, not so much.  So I turn to the tree and specifically those I have taken photographs of this October.  This first one just provides some background interest as I was actually attracted by the pollarded wood leaning against the wall. There are lots of woods around this area of South Lakeland and it was nice to observe that some are being managed by pollarding rather than felling.  The overcast sky on this day would eventually clear  
to be a sunny one, just in time to sit by a babbling brook.
Later I would pass by a rather more exotic tree whose shape are always fascinating, the Monkey Puzzle.
I hope the observation that it is going to be a very cold winter when there are lots of berries is not true because there have indeed been lots of berries this year of every hue.  This Rowan tree caught my attention against the white of the house and although it has a quite a lot of berries I have seen some Rowan carrying so many that the branches are bending under the weight.
Not so much the ornamental cherries, they are just floating among the leaves. I have started with the green of early October and finish with the colour of autumn as the month advanced and the days shortened.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at T here




Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One of the most visited stone circles in the Lake District is Castlerigg (also known as the Keswick Carles or simply The Carles). It has been dated to about 3000BC and is one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.  At the entrance to its location the raised map (above) is placed for visitors to see the positioning of the 38 stones and around the edge the names of the near mountains.
The circle measures about 100 ft (30 metres) and sits in a natural amphitheater formed by the surrounding hills with sight of the valley below


The ever-changing clouds and weather

form a  backdrop changing the light and the atmosphere of this magical place.  I arrived under gloom but gradually the sun started to break through and the low clouds started to break up and dissipate off the tops.
One of the unusual formations of the circle is this rectangular grouping of ten stones in the south east quadrant sometimes called the sanctuary or cove, although its purpose is unknown. Some have suggested it might have been a meeting place for trades of stone axes.
By the time we left the sun was starting to break up the clouds. Nothing much is known about the site but the astronomical alignments have provoked a lot of interest and also the observation that at the north east it flattens out for reasons unknown. Some have imagined that the stones reflect the the shape of the mountains surrounding them.  If only there was time machine to whisk us back to meet our ancient ancestors for them to explain. Until then The Megalithic Portal has a beautiful photograph of the circle taken by firelight which may be the nearest we'll get to seeing it how it might have been.   

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at S here
  

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Five Rise Lock

Bingley Five Rise Locks, not the biggest in the UK but the steepest rising nearly 60 feet (16 metres) over a distance of 320 ft (97 metres).  The crowds turned out in 1774 when it opened to see this wonder of the waterways and people still come to see a piece of working history.
At the top the plaque not only mentions the Leeds to Liverpool Canal's first engineer who designed the locks, John Longbotham, but also credits the local stonemasons whose work can still be seen for the locks retain most of their original stonework
There have been modern additions such as the metal lock ladders so if anyone falls in they can get out easily (in the 18th century you would have had to haul yourself up the lock gates).  The lock gates of course haven't lasted

but their replacements are made of oak like the originals.
Here is a boat tying up at the bottom ready to make the journey up; no tripping up over an excitable dog because it has been tied up first
and was waiting patiently to get back on board.

 The boats coming down made their way out (the water can be seen gushing down in lock). The journey down takes 20-30 minutes now the locks are ready for those wanting to take the journey up however
this will take longer,  between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
but there will be company because they go up two by two
not to mention the many curious onlookers like me.

They reach the calm waters of the canal at the top to carry them on their way
but my destination was the tea room on the opposite bank which in past times was the stable block for horses.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at R here
 



Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Threlkeld Quarry

How many chances will I get to encompass three of my interests in one photograph?  Here we have vintage machinery, a locomotive and a mountain.  The mountain is one of the 'must climbs' of the Lake District, Blencathra, also known by its English rather than local name, Saddleback, because of its shape.  I'm not taking you on a walk up there but a more leisurely 
ride on a quarry railway.  This little locomotive is a Ruston 48DL of 1947, once used at the Royal Armaments Depot nearby in Cockermouth (which closed in 1994) and brought here, re-gauged from 2'6" to the 2 foot (0.6096m) and now one of three locos used at Threlkeld Quarry.  The little steam locomotive Sir Tom was not running on the day we visited, a bit of a disappointment, but not for long with the chance of a narrow gauge train ride,  lets climb aboard with a choice of open or enclosed carriages to trundle through a  bit of mining history.
Eventually ending up in the very large quarry where the locomotive is uncoupled and run round to the  other end of the carriages for the return trip.  The Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum is also home to the Vintage Excavator Trust so there was lots of machinery to entrance the three boys who were running around.  I am informed this is a Priestman Luffing Shovel who the toy maker Corgi used to make lots of miniature versions.
While the train was being readied for its return journey part of the Duddon History Group gathered around to listen to the quarry history told by the train 'ticket inspector'.  Our  history walk had run through the centuries having arrived here from a visit to a Neolithic Stone Circle (3000BC) to this quarry which was started in the 1870s to supply railway ballast for the Keswick to Penrith Line (now closed).  Although the Lake District is more famous for its slate this is a microgranite quarry where the rock was blasted from the quarry face with small explosives so it would shift rock without shattering and then loaded into railway wagons or tubs.

This particular type of granite is not suitable for polishing so is generally used as ballast.

 The quarry closed in 1936 but reopened in 1949 when it stated to produce precast concrete flagstones, the railway was dismantled.
The quarry eventually closed in 1982 when the demolition contractors moved in, stripped the slate roofs of the buildings etc and by the time a charity took over the site in 1992 things were deteriorating and in rather a state.

 As you can see what is now the train shed has a corrugated roof rather than nice roof tiles.  After various changes through the year the site was brought back to be a visitor attraction and the present organisation runs the train and mining trips, gold planning and a superb Mining Museum which encompasses the history of mining in the Lake District and minerals with examples of the complex geology of the Lake District. certainly for the geology enthusiast this would be worth more than one visit.  As one of our group said it was too much to take in for one visit although we will have wait until next year because it closed for the end of the tourist season yesterday (30th October) although their Facebook page says there is a Santa Special at Christmas. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at Q here 
  

  

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pigs

Sleeping or keeping her eye on the little mix and match piglets?
Not much sleeping with this lively bunch.

I like pigs and their personalities but they do have a certain porcine pong when in enclosed spaces
so perhaps best appreciated in the open air.
Along with the pecking
and perching hens.
I leave the last words to Piglet and Winnie the Pooh
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at P here

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Otters

There was a lot of rather cute squeaking going on near the gate to the otter pool at the Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre.  Why?  The otters are fed at designated times through the day and this fence faces the direction where the purveyor of tasty nibbles will walk.
At last the fish have arrived.  Should I eat it this way?
 Or sideways?
Delicious.
I'm eating mine down here in the cooling stream. 

 These are Asian Short Clawed Otters (the smallest otter in the world) and the photo above shows its small claws with incomplete webbing between the digits.  This enhances their manual dexterity, useful when feeding on molluscs and crabs.  These adorable creatures also have a crowd pleasing trick of juggling stones on their hands, it is a very social species which likes to play.   Unfortunately I did not capture one of them doing their party trick as the stone was dropped immediately the fish arrived. 
and they got to grips with their silver slipperiness.
The Asian Short Clawed Otters here are a family, Robbie, Daisy and their offspring Dili. The species are on the Red List meaning they are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss and also hunting for their skins and also their organs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. In the wild they live in mangrove swamps and fresh water wetlands with a range from India to South East Asia as shown on the map below.
Oriental Small-clawed Otter area.png
This little family were more local and relocated to Cotebrook from Chester Zoo who are running a breeding program to increase their numbers and create new breeding lines.

I hope this helps their numbers increase.  Our own indigenous European Otters had a catastrophic decline in the 1950s and 60s due to pollution, habitat destruction and drainage of wetlands and almost completely disappeared from England (a Scottish population remained).  With positive action, the banning of organo-chloride pesticides and the improvement of river quality, over the years our otters have returned, so maybe there is hope for the Asian Short Clawed Otter.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at O here