Windswept Wheat Field

Week In Focus #42

This is #42 of a weekly Photo Challenge that I set myself – there is no particular theme. The idea behind the challenge is to get myself outside into the Cumbrian countryside, at least once a week.

  • This week’s photo is of a windswept wheat field, in West Cumbria.

Hulled, beardless
Eating, gritting, flouring
Such feelings of happiness


Windswept Wheat Field
Windswept Wheat Field
Wheat Field

Thoughts In A Wheat-Field

At the moment, local fields are a lovely golden colour with Wheat ready for harvesting. Rain has currently interrupted farmers from collecting their crop, but as soon as there is a dry spell, they’ll be out in the countryside in their Combines. Hopefully the rain hasn’t damaged their crop, as moisture content is pretty critical.

Did you know? Wheat was first harvested over 12,000 years ago, with its origin being traced back to south east Turkey. It is one of the most successful food crops with 25,000 different varieties!

In his wide fields walks the Master,
In his fair fields, ripe for harvest,
Where the evening sun shines slant-wise
On the rich ears heavy bending;
Saith the Master: ‘It is time.’
Though no leaf shows brown decadence,
And September’s nightly frost-bite
Only reddens the horizon,
‘It is full time,’ saith the Master,
The wise Master, ‘It is time.’

Lo, he looks. That look compelling
Brings his laborers to the harvest;
Quick they gather, as in autumn
Passage-birds in cloudy eddies
Drop upon the seaside fields;
White wings have they, and white raiment,
White feet shod with swift obedience,
Each lays down his golden palm branch,
And uprears his sickle shining,
‘Speak, O Master,–is it time?’

O’er the field the servants hasten,
Where the full-stored ears droop downwards,
Humble with their weight of harvest:
Where the empty ears wave upward,
And the gay tares flaunt in rows:
But the sickles, the sharp sickles,
Flash new dawn at their appearing,
Songs are heard in earth and heaven,
For the reapers are the angels,
And it is the harvest time.

O Great Master, are thy footsteps
Even now upon the mountains?
Are thou walking in thy wheat-field?
Are the snowy-wingèd reapers
Gathering in the silent air?
Are thy signs abroad, the glowing
Of the distant sky, blood-reddened,
And the near fields trodden, blighted,
Choked by gaudy tares triumphant,
Sure, it must be harvest time?

Who shall know the Master’s coming?
Whether it be at dawn or sunset,
When night dews weigh down the wheat-ears,
Or while noon rides high in heaven,
Sleeping lies the yellow field?
Only, may thy voice, Good Master,
Peal above the reapers’ chorus,
And dull sound of sheaves slow falling,
‘Gather all into My garner,
For it is My harvest time.’

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Wheat Field
Wheat Field
Newlands Valley

Newlands Valley #2

A few days ago, I shared with you a photo of Newlands Valley, from the east end, looking west. This time, I thought I’d share a photo of the same valley, but in the opposite direction.

Driving along the road is a real pleasure, but hazardous at the same time as one struggles to keep one’s eyes pointed straight ahead as there is so much to see, and take in. Luckily my wife was with me, reminding me to keep my eyes “on the road”.

The Newlands Valley is well known for its links with Beatrix Potter. The tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle uses the Newlands Valley as its backdrop. The star of the book was based upon the vicar’s daughter – Lucie Carr.

The Newlands Valley is an excellent choice as a base for a walking holiday and provides a huge variety of walking routes from your doorstep including low level valley walks, ridge walks and fell walks such as Causey Pike, Barrow, Robinson, Hindscarth, Catbells, Maiden Moor and Dale Head.

Newlands Valley is also home to the Goldscope Mine. It is on the lower slopes of Hindscarth near Low Snab Farm and was in use from the 1500’s until the end of the 1800’s. It yielded such large quantities of lead and copper that it was called ‘Gottesgab’ (God’s Gift) by the German miners who were brought over to develop it.

Newlands Valley
Newlands Valley
Newlands Valley

Newlands Valley

The Newlands Valley is a picturesque and quiet valley in the Lake District National Park. The name “Newlands” describes the usable new land which had been created at the foot of the valley between Portinscale and Braithwaite by the draining of a large swampy and marshy area during the 13th century.

The earliest signs of human settlement in the valley have been found at Ullock, where evidence of a Bronze Age burial site has been found. The remains of a Celtic workshop were also found at Portinscale. Viking herdsmen arrived in Cumbria after 800 AD. Many of the present day place names in the Newlands valley have their origins from these early Norse settlers. The valley area was originally called Rogersat or Rogersyde which was derived from the Old Norse “Roger-Saetr”, which translates as Summer pasture belonging to Roger. The present day Newlands valley settlements of Keskadale, Skelgill, Birk Rigg, High Snab and Uzzicar all have their name origins from the early Viking settlers.

The scenery of the Newlands valley consists of farmland in the valley bottom and soaring fells above. Fells that have their foot in the valley include Barrow, Causey Pike, Catbells, Ard Crags, Knott Rigg, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson. The quality of the fell walking is very good; the Newlands horseshoe is a 9-mile walk, starting and finishing at Little Town, with over 1,000 metres of ascent, taking in most of the 2,000-foot peaks at the head of the valley.

On the steep slopes of Ard Crags above Keskadale farm is Keskadale Oakwood, which is an ancient oak and alder woodland, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. It has an area of 50 hectares and has been fenced off for an initial period of 15 years to encourage natural regeneration and keep out grazing animals.

Newlands Valley
Newlands Valley
Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken

n arriving home from working Night Shift, I decided to have a short walk in the village to test the capabilities of my Canon EOS 6D MKII in low light conditions. It performed very well in my opinion.

This shot was hand-held, and taken at 4am while morning mist was still enveloping local fields.

  • 1/100 sec; f/2.8; ISO 250

Suddenly a mist fell from my eyes and I knew the way I had to take.

Edvard Grieg
Morning Has Broken
Morning Has Broken
Cotton Grass

Cotton Grass

At the moment, Common Cotton Grass is sprouting all over the Cumbria landscape. It’s as if someone has thrown a huge bag of cotton wool over the fields and mountains. While blowing in the breeze, the movement of these fluffy tufts appear to bring the land to life. Technically, it’s not a grass at all.

  • Cottongrass was once used as a feather substitute in pillow stuffing some parts of the United Kingdom.
  • Paper and the wicks of candles have been made of its fiber.
  • The leaves were formerly used in the treatment of diarrhea, and the spongy pith of the stem for the removal of tapeworm.
  • During World War I, it was used to dress wounds.

Cotton Grass is a hardy, herbaceous, rhizomatous, perennial plant, meaning that it is resilient to cold and freezing climatic conditions, dies back at the end of its growing season, has creeping root stalks, and lives for over two years. It grows vigorously from seed over a period of 2–5 years, and thrives particularly well in freshly disturbed, cut or eroded peat.

The plant was named Eriophorum angustifolium in 1782 by the German botanist Gerhard August Honckeny. In English, E. angustifolium is known by a variety of common names (with various spellings), including common cottongrass,common cotton-grass, common cottonsedge, tassel cotton grass, many-headed cotton-grass, thin-scale cotton-grass, tall cotton-grass, downy ling and bog cotton.

Cotton Grass
Cotton Grass
Close To The Start Of My Ascent

Blake Fell

This morning, I had a lovely 7 mile walk up Blake Fell in West Cumbria, which commenced from the Lamplugh side of the fell. It was hard going at times, with legs burning and my heart pumping away like a knackered old steam engine, but I did eventually get to the summit. Phew!

Close To The Start Of My Ascent
Close To The Beginning Of My Ascent

During the ascent of the fell, I met a cheery fella called John Black who had earlier taken off from me like a whippet in a race. Wow – he could walk. John urged me to join Whitehaven Ramblers, of which he is a current vice president. I am actually considering, but not sure if I could commit due to working shifts. Perhaps it’s something for me to do in my retirement years – the countdown for retirement has begun, with 9 years left on the clock.

Lamplugh Fell

Blake Fell is the highest point of the Loweswater Fells, an area of low grassy hills with steep sides overlooking the lake of Loweswater on one side, with the Cogra Moss reservoir on the other. Blake Fell is designated as a Marilyn.

Resting Among The Cotton Grass

The Loweswater Fells have been compared to the digits of a hand, radiating out south westward from the “palm” centred on Loweswater village. From the west these are Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell, Gavel Fell, Hen Comb and Mellbreak, the “thumb”. Blake Fell is the highest in this group, the summit area being a long ridge running southwest along the “finger”.

Poppy Leading The Way

Descending south west from the summit are High Pen (1,558 ft), Low Pen (1,427 ft), Godworth (1,197 ft) and Kelton Fell (1,020 ft). Beyond lie the Croasdale road and the West Cumberland plain.

Lake District National Park Boundary Stone

Standing aloof from these tops, but still within Blake Fell’s orbit, is Knock Murton (1,467 ft). This is a steep sided fell, forested on the western flank and with sufficient prominence that it is only barely excluded from the list of Marilyns in its own right. Blake Fell also extends a western ridge over the prominent top of Sharp Knott (1,581 ft) and the wooded High Howes (1,027 ft), falling gently to the village of Lamplugh. There are fantastic views of Cogra Moss reservoir from most locations.

Cogra Moss Reservoir

Knock Murton and Kelton Fell bear the scars of mining activity, having been the site of extensive haematite workings. Between 1853 and their closure in 1914 these mines produced anything up to 60,000 tons of ore per year. A railway, the Rowrah and Kelton Fell Line, was built up the valley between the two hills, the line of which can still be traced. A further working, the Croasdale Iron Mine, operated to the south of Kelton Fell.

Nearly There!

The summit of Blake Fell is a grassy dome decorated with a large cairn, the meeting point of paths from the various ridges. Westwards there is no higher ground to interrupt the sea view. To the east is a fine array of hills stretching from Binsey in the north to Grike in the south. The North Western Fells across Crummock Water are particularly fine, although much better seen from Loweswater End.

A Discarded Fence Post Points The Way To Blake Fell

From Loweswater village a direct line can be taken up Carling Knott, or a more southerly approach made via High Nook Beck. From the west, Lamplugh or Felldyke provide good access, lying at either end of a network of footpaths. These connect to the track alongside Cogra Moss which can be used to gain the high ground via Low Pen. Knock Murton can also be ascended from the head of the reservoir.

Blake Fell
Blake Fell
Looking Over Loweswater
Looking Over Loweswater
Poppy Taking In The Views
View From The Summit
Looking Towards Swinside

Wath Brow Vista

is is the view from nearby Wath Brow in West Cumbria, just after the last snow of winter. For the photo, I was looking in the Swinside / Longmoor direction. Ennerdale Water is sat behind the first ridge.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

Jerusalem – William Blake
Looking Towards Swinside
Looking Towards Swinside
Ennerdale Heather

Moorland View

A few yards from the summit of Crag Fell, Ennerdale, in West Cumbria, wild Heather grows in abundance on the moorland, many miles away from human activity. It’s truly a sight to behold when vibrant purple flowers carpet the landscape.

  • The word heather is derived from the word hather which is middle english and means an open land covered with heather and or moss. This land can be hilly and rocky which is exactly where heather is happiest.

Heathland and moorland are the most extensive areas of semi-natural vegetation in the British Isles. The eastern British moorlands are similar to heaths but are differentiated by having a covering of peat. On western moors the peat layer may be several metres thick. Scottish “muirs” are generally heather moors, but also have extensive covering of grass, cotton-grass, mosses, bracken and under-shrubs such as crowberry, with the wetter moorland having sphagnum moss merging into bog-land.

Calluna vulgaris (known as common heather, ling, or simply heather) is a low-growing perennial shrub growing to 20 to 50 centimetres (7.9 to 19.7 in) tall, or rarely to 1 metre (39 in) and taller, and is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade. It is the dominant plant in most heathland and moorland in Europe, and in some bog vegetation and acidic pine and oak woodland. It is tolerant of grazing and regenerates following occasional burning, and is often managed in nature reserves and grouse moors by sheep or cattle grazing, and also by light burning.

Heather is an important food source for various sheep and deer which can graze the tips of the plants when snow covers low-growing vegetation. Willow grouse and red grouse feed on the young shoots and seeds of the plant. Formerly heather was used to dye wool yellow and to tan leather. With malt, heather is an ingredient in Gruit, a mixture of flavourings used in the brewing of heather-beer during the Middle Ages.

Ennerdale Heather
Ennerdale Heather