Tuesday 4th May 2015 - Leighton Moss to Gait Barrows via the Trough, Trowbarrow, Haweswater and return. 1045hrs to 1600hrs
|Photo: Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Charles Payne)|
Today was a very special memorial walk with fifteen of us treading the steps were our dear old friend Charlie had walked many times with his wife Chris. We started from the Leighton Moss and straight away were priviliged to see a male Marsh Harrier quartering the reedbeds. It was not long before we were heading up the trough but just as we started our ascent, it was great to see four returning Swifts hawking the skies above us, the first of the year and keeping to their regular schedule arrival date of May 4th. On the way up we were greeted by the beautiful sounds of the Chiffchaffs and distant interrupted bubbling coming from some Blackcaps.
In Trowbarrow itself it was a lovely sight with not only climbers attempting "Alladins Sane" and "Hunky Dory" but also the quick glimpse of a Shelduck quickly flying off to get away from the Bank Holiday mayhem! We left the quarry heading down the incline towards the old Trowbarrow Lime Works stopping midway at the area where Charlie had managed to find the rare White Letter Hairstreak several years earlier, I showed the party his photo of that very butterfly which he had taken at the time and also another photo he had taken of its cousin the Green Hairstreak (see photo), a photo which has always been a special favourite to several of us on the walk today.
After crossing the railway line at the bottom we were soon on Moss Lane making our way to Haweswater, it was nice to see all the Field Garlic or Wild Onion bordering the road, I remember in years past failing miserably to try and count just how many of the rare species there was and gave up after reaching a staggering amount of 3000 plus.
Another very special place and pertinent to todays walk was Haweswater which borders the Gait Barrows Nature Reserve. I pointed out to the group that soon there would be the rare Birds Eye Primrose and Butterwort and nearby Marsh Fragrant Orchids to add to the splendour. Today we were too early for these, but certainly not too late!
Onward and Upward it was shouted by one of the party! we arrived at the gateway to Gait Barrows, passing on our right a recently deforested area which had a floor carpeted with Primrose and the beautiful Wood Anemone shining through them like little "white stars". Through the gate and ascending the beautiful limestone rocky crags to find the area across from the Gait Barrows beacon and a suitable place to sit down for lunch.
All fed and watered we carried on the perimeters of Gait Barrows, and it wasnt long before we all stopped in our tracks to witness the most amazing spectacle of a fabulous fresh in its prime Green Hairstreak butterfly "showing off" its splender to us all whilst it surveyed and fed on a sun dazzling yellow dandelion within a metre of where we were stood. You dont normally get a special viewing like this, normally they are too flitty to get good views, but it was quite obvious to some of us that this was a very special butterfly indeed, and it was as if it wanted to show us it was there!
As we continued our walk we were fortunate to see Brimstones, Orange Tips (males and females!), and lots and lots of Peacocks, of which some were high in the sky, some jostling in courtship and some just lying on the ground being much laid back with outspread wings taking in the warm sun. We were all looking out for the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary amongst the many primrose settings, but he or his enterage did not seem to be in attendance today.
Also today we saw lots of colour in various forms of flowers about, like Bugle, Ramsons, Lords and Ladies, Dog Violets, and the beautiful Early Purple Orchids to name a few.
We left Gait Barrows with such a special memory and made our way back to the start. What a lovely set of people had come along today for this beautiful memorial walk.
"The sun shone, to do its best,
For such a special day.
A Warbler sang above our heads,
And didnt want to go away.
A butterfly of green, from heaven,
Stopped us in our very path,
It was a sign to tell us all,
That everything is fine"