Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Haweswater and Red Deer

After a late finish at work, and at the most two hours sleep, the alarm rang and it was time to get ready, and head off to Haweswater, for a hike around the stunning landscapes and to head to the where I spent the majority of time in the winter of last year, The Nab. Last year, I spent some time observing and listening to Red Deer. Watching them run up and down the hills, organising their harems in to order ready to mate. I felt it would be good to see how the species was doing after a number of months absent from their view.
Haweswater was in sight, and the hills looked steeper than I imagined, of course they were not but at this time the lack of sleep I managed to get, any thing from a climb of single step of stairs would have felt like Kilimanjaro.
The small island at the end of the reservoir was looking greener than ever, compared to last year, where the deciduous trees closing down for winter. After finishing off a much needed McDonalds breakfast, I could feel my energy levels increase. The daunting prospect of hiking to the first even level of hill was beginning to fade. However saying that, the initial first part of the hike, was torture, my camera bag was full of equipment as well as food, the lack of sleep had my body crying with pain, I would like to say that I was sweating, but I have concluded that this was tears, tears of sheer abuse to my body. I could feel my urge to eat all my food in my bag beginning to come to light, there was a bar of dairy milk that I’m sure was shouting at me. My student life over the last three to four months had severely taken hold of my fitness levels and just squashed them to nothing.

 After a brief stop, and checking out the view, for some reason I decided to look within the grass on the upland, and found a beetle I had never seen before. The beetle known as an Oil Beetle, was wandering around the grass picking and choosing which blade of grass to feed from. The beetle showed deep colours and contrasted well off the green grass. A very large beetle, with attractive colours and size, I was surprised it had not yet been predated on, especially with the amount of birds flying around.

The views over the reservoir where also beginning to become more attractive too. More valleys could be seen, and the landscapes were breath taking. The views proved to be tranquil and when stopping and listening..... nothing but the sound of birds calling in the background, it was bliss. 

Moving on, two tarns could be seen over head, the marsh/bogginess of the land was also becoming more apparent, the dry weather that we have seen recently seems to have soaked up a lot of the water that appears to have been there, leaving small ponds here and there, which I mistakenly  thought "wont be that deep, probably firm soil, just looks a bit wet", my whole foot disappeared.

After the back breaking part of the hike, I of course went a bit overboard with my drinking water, and probably the rest of my supplies, so when walking by Blea Water, just the look of the crystal blue water, had me wanting to kamikaze off the trail and dive in, drinking every last drop.... literally. Every pond I wandered by was, I'm sure, smiling at me. Hoping for a tiny stream somewhere, never approached, the dirty still water was looking more appealing every second. 

Once at the top of the route, views between the Riggindale Beck and Blea Water, down to Haweswater, took me by surprise. Why hadn't I been here before? To get a sense of satisfaction from such an activity blew me away, or that might have just been the high winds at the time. At least that was one thing to look out for, the weather change. The glorious morning was about to change, the clouds were darkening, the winds there picking up and snow flakes began to fall, however not before I again spot a sighting of a skylark, hopping around.

After a brief rest over looking the views of Haweswater and Hayeswater, the route began to lead towards The Knott and Rest Dodd, before finally The Nab could be seen as well as the valleys of Martindale. By this time the snowflakes were larger and easily seen through the view finder.

Views to the left of us were stunning, scenery from many other crags and pikes could be seen which created a nice deep layered landscape, with many ranges and summits.

 Observing the land over Martindale, the usual sightings of deer were non-existent. During the rut, the deer occupied many fields towards the hills hiding Haweswater. Now the quest to find them began! Scouring the land for any sign of movement, other than sheep. There seemed to be nothing, checking the woodland, panning through the streams, and any movement on the hills, and still nothing. 

Disappointed by this, I began to look around other parts for something else to photograph. As i walked to the other side of The Nab, the next valley that was empty last year was now occupying the grazing animal.

It was a great and breathtaking sighting, watching over what seemed to be between fifty to a hundred deer. Until I looked further and more and more became apparent, just lying down in the long grass, basking in ever changing weather. I needed to get closer. Looking around the landscape, and taking note of the conditions, such as wind direction and noise levels, it seemed the best way to approach them was to head back along The Nab to a converge which was hiding a stream. Walking by a water fall, and into the stream, I was well hidden and out of sight. The wind was in my favour, helping me keep the smells which deer would have picked up upon straight way out of reach. Whilst descending down I could see many opportunities to come back and set up camera traps, as many deer tracks could be seen, a popular watering station it seemed. Once on the level of sight, it was time to switch to stealth mode, hidden by a crag, I stripped from my black coat, to a camo jacket and hood and began the slow but steady crawl to try and gain what seemed a much deserved photograph. To what seemed unapparent to the rest of the deer, one doe was not fooled. Ears pricked forward, and the occasional lip curling smelling of the air, she knew something was odd. However patient and determined not to scare her any further, I lay in the long grass trying to keep as still as possible. After walking up and down hill all day and very little sleep the night before, this was not hard. At one point my eyes closed and I think I fell asleep.   

The doe must have relaxed, or was hypnotised by my snoring, she soon fell back in to grazing on the upland grass, looking rather full in weight as did many others if not fuller, I could say that these does are not far form birth. Great to see as I witnessed the rut the previous season.

However too much excitement and movement caused alarm and the deer began to realise they were not alone.

After rushing away deeper in to safety, perusing them was not even a thought, I didn't want to bring these animals any more stress than they had already endured, especially if they to be in calf.

So after a great few moments of watching them travel to the distance it was time to head to the roads of Martindale and head home, not before stumbling upon a nest of chicks, of which I'm not sure of the species, ravens had been circling around the valley, as well as a kestrel. More research into this will be conducted at later date. But the chicks who were very vocal, seemed to be very hungry. Stretching out from the nest hoping that mother was near by with some food.

The walk back was peaceful, the valley full of lambs bleating every few seconds, and the sun beginning to fall to sunset. Overall a great day, and kick start to more walking in the Lake District, and plenty fresh ideas of things to do in Martindale in order to show case the wonders that they call home.

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