Monday, 5 November 2012

Hairy and hardy

Penny and I have just had a magic weekend at Black Sail youth hostel at the wild head of Ennerdale, overlooked by the wonderful trio of mountains, Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar, with hailstones drumming on the roof at night but sunshine blessing our walks by day.

Here are a couple of pictures which show the Lake District's famously volatile weather in both moods: above the wintery background to the little hut, a former shepherd's bothy, as we set out to cross Scarth Gap to the fleshpots (relatively speaking) of Buttermere. And below, our parting glimpse as we walked out down Ennerdale with our heavy packs yesterday.

I'll also just put in this picture of a rainbow over Buttermere which perhaps appropriately bridges the two extremes.

With us on Friday was Alan Sykes, a friend who farms at Talkin in the extreme north of Cumbria close to the Picts and Scots, who went for a walk up there on Saturday and emailed me this completely baffling photo of a caterpillar in what appears to be a Victorian christening gown. In fact, he told me when I inquired, it's his hanky.

If anyone knows what the catty is - my best guess would be a Fox Moth which likes damp and cold moorland - I'd be much obliged.

Back in Ennerdale, we found the very fine beast below which I think is a Ruby Tiger caterpillar. The valley has a famous niche in caterpillar history: last year, four thousand Marsh Fritillary catties were released in meadows rich with Devil's-bit Scabious to start a colony which I'm glad to say has so far survived.