Its been many years since I’ve visited Cumbria’s Lake District. Driving through, by way of the M6, in the dead of night does not count. And I had honestly forgotten how beautiful it is. I thought nothing could beat the Scottish Highlands – yet last week, there I was, in a miniature version.
My destination was Cockermouth, or there about. I came off at junction 38 and drove via Windermere, Grasmere, and Keswick. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and most of the trees still had an orange-rust winter colour to them. Gorgeous.
A walk through Lanthwaite Woods Its a lovely old woodland, managed by the National Trust, with footpaths to Crummock Water. We took the path that follows the river Cocker. It meanders gently through the woodland, in a wiggly sort of way. Its hard to believe that this wee river was the cause of such horrendous floods a few years back. There were snowdrops growing in clusters everywhere. I would love to see this riparian woodland in one month’s time, with all the wildflowers that are sure to grow here. Ooh, and maybe wild strawberries.
I secretly had a wish list in my head – otter, red squirrel, and dipper. Not far into the woodland and I came upon squirrel feeding remains. A pile of empty acorn bottoms along with gnawed pine cones. Looking up, the trees were too tall to easily reveal any little faces with tufted ears. But finding evidence of their presence was exciting enough.
Next up was the most exhilerating sighting. Walking along the river edge, quietly looking for tracks and otter spraint (poo), I saw him fly down and land not far away on a submerged tree trunk. A dipper. They are impossible to mis-identify with their bright white chest and puffball body shape. He sat there quite relaxed as I crept closer and closer, snapping away with camera. Whilst creeping closer to the dipper, I happened to spot some otter spraint to my left. And so, after the bird finally flew away I returned to the spraint for further examination. Mmm, perfume smell, and full of teeny fish bones. Otters like to leave their spraint on a prominant location, for all (otters) to see (or smell). It marks their territories, and probably tells other otters all sorts of useful information about each other. Again, finding the spraint was good. Though obviously being so close to a dipper was the day’s top experience.
The woodland finishes at the northern end of Crummock Water. The Water was as still as a mirror, and with the snow-capped mountains behind, it was quite a sight.
making new friends
The sun was going down as we left Crummock Water, so we took a different path, which went through plantation woodland. We saw the usual suspects, robins, chaffinch, wren, and I thought I heard a chiff chaff. Oh, and last but definately NOT least, a tawny owl.