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We had a slow start to our first day in the Lake District.  We were tired after our long journey of the day before and the weather wasn’t good enough that morning to tempt us out early.  By midday however, the rain had stopped and the clouds had lifted and we thought we would have a short excursion to Ullswater and look at Aira Force.

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District and last Easter we took a boat trip on it.  I wrote about our Lakes holiday last year but unfortunately that post has gone missing.  I have been sent copies of my missing posts by my friend Heather (thank-you Heather!) but haven’t yet copied them back into my blog.  (Unfortunately, all your wonderful comments have gone for good 😦 ).

Aira Force is a waterfall situated in woodland on the northern shore of the lake and is now in the care of the National Trust.

After a short drive we found the National Trust car park and then started to walk up through woodland towards the force.

IMG_4934Aira Force (640x480)

Not easy to see, but this is the Aira Beck as it flows through woodland at the bottom of the hill. It will shortly enter the lake.

IMG_4935At Aira Force (480x640)

Richard and Elinor walking ahead of me up the path.

This area was once owned by the Howard family who still live in Greystoke Castle near by.  In the 18th century they renovated an old hunting lodge (a former pele tower) and created a sporting estate around it.  They landscaped the area around the force, planting over half a million native and non-native trees.  They made paths and bridges through the woodland and used the place as a pleasure garden.

IMG_5007The path (480x640)

Stone slabs used as a bridge across a streamlet

IMG_4974Aira Force (480x640)

Wooden bridge over a narrow chasm

IMG_5017Aira Force (480x640)

Steps and viewing platforms. We didn’t go down the steps as Elinor finds them difficult to manage.

IMG_4936Aira Force

Typically for me, the one shot I wanted to come out clearly, clearly hasn’t! I haven’t down-sized this one in an effort to make it look a little better. I only had my little camera with me and the sunlight was causing such a glare too. That’s probably enough excuses.

The main force drops about 70′ from below a footbridge.

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Further up in the woods are smaller cascades.

IMG_4943Aira Force (640x480)

The sound of the falling and rushing water was glorious.

IMG_4953Aira Force (640x480)

This pool was good to sit next to.

IMG_4952Aira Force (640x480)

IMG_4958Aira Force (640x480)

The water is amber-coloured.

IMG_4955Elinor sketching (480x640)

Elinor did some sketching while we were there.

IMG_4983Aira Force (640x480)

This was my favourite place along the beck

IMG_4973Aira Force (480x640)

There was thick moss everywhere….

…and liverwort too.

IMG_5012Stone parapet (640x480)

A stone parapet to a bridge was covered in lichen.

IMG_5011Map Lichen perhaps (640x480)

I think this may be Map Lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum).

IMG_4937Enchanter's Nightshade (480x640)

Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana) grew everywhere.

IMG_4937Enchanter's Nightshade (2) (530x640)

It has tiny flowers which produce burs once pollinated.

IMG_4944Bracken (640x480)

Bracken and ferns were growing alongside our path. I like the way the sunlight caught this fern.

IMG_4960Chrysolina beetle (640x480)

A Chrysolina beetle of some sort.

IMG_4970Common Cow-wheat (640x480)

A flower I had never seen before – Common Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense)

IMG_4972Common Cow-wheat (640x480)

There was rather a lot of it!

IMG_4980Foxgloves (480x640)

Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)

IMG_5028Foxgloves (640x480)

A bank of foxgloves

IMG_4986Common Valerian (640x480)

Common Valerian in bud (Valeriana officinalis)

IMG_5038Common Valerian (640x480)

Common Valerian in flower

IMG_4998St John's-wort (640x480)

I thought this might be Trailing St John’s-wort (Hypericum humifusum) but the ID description tells me the leaves should have translucent dots and I didn’t see any dots.

IMG_5018Woodruff perhaps (640x480)

I think these are Woodruff leaves (Galium odoratum)

I saw so many different plants and flowers, grasses and sedges, many of which I have included in posts from home so haven’t included them here, but some I still have no idea what they are despite researching for some time.

IMG_4968Unknown (640x480)

This plant for example! (The tri-foliate leaf near my hand was not part of the plant).

IMG_5022Coins in log (640x480)

On our way back from the waterfall we found this fallen log covered in coins.

This is a ‘Wish Tree’.  People hammer coins into it with a stone from the site and hope that their wish comes true.  We didn’t have any wishes and anyway, I was more interested in the fungi growing on the log.

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I saw another fungus growing at the base of a tree.

IMG_5021Fungus (640x480)

If anyone can suggest what this or any of the other fungi are I would be very grateful.

Near to the car park we found the Arboretum that the Howard family had planted in 1846.  They planted over 200 specimen conifers (firs, pines, spruces and cedars) from all over the world.  Apparently there is a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) that is now 118′ tall though I didn’t see it.  What I did see was a Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) that looked like it’s bark was sliding down like a baggy sock.

IMG_5029Monkey Puzzle tree (480x640)

I used to see Monkey Puzzles all over the place where I grew up. Trees that had been planted in the 19th century in parks and gardens were fully mature when I was a girl in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t ever remember looking at them closely so I don’t know if this is what all their trunks look like.

IMG_5031Moss and lichen on Monkey Puzzle (480x640)

Moss and lichen were growing on one side of the trunk.

IMG_5033Siskin (640x480)

I saw a Siskin (Carduelis spinus) hiding in a plant I was wanting to get closer to but didn’t because of the Siskin!

I took a couple of pictures of the fells as we returned to the car.

IMG_5034Ullswater (640x480)

Ullswater in the distance.

IMG_5035Fells near Ullswater (640x480)

I would love to be able to walk up one of these before I get too old!

Thanks for visiting!