Along the Pennine Way we shelter from the wind in a grassy hollow below a limekiln where we celebrate Jill’s birthday with chocolate cake. Above us, moorland of shake hole and swallow hole- a limestone landscape.
Above us, High Cup Plain – watershed of the Eden and the Tees with white flowers of water crowfoot at the source of High Cupgill Beck. We come down from the watershed on the southern flank, looking beyond the beck to a frieze of gills below the Pennine way.
An eruption of caterpillars all along the grassy track, moorland of grass and sedge. And badger setts where the creatures have excavated mounds of limestone fragments.
We stop at Appleby, one of Lady Anne Clifford's castles and part of her restoration programme when she came north at the conclusion of the Civil War in the 1650s. Almshouses- of red sandstone, for poor widows, and a lovely chapel. Lady Anne who fought so long to secure her Clifford inheritance: castles at Appleby, Brough, Brougham, Pendragon and Skipton- all urgently in need of restoration by the time she had ownership and funds to finance her building programme. She restored churches too: St Lawrence and St Michael at Appleby and St Mary in Mallerstang. Impossible to imagine her life here, after her time at Wilton House as Countess of Pembroke. But then Wilton after the Civil War was not the seat of high-culture it had been when Mary Sidney was Countess of Pembroke and wrote 'Arcadia.'
Caterpillar Identification: 'Fox Moth caterpillars, mainly a moorland /heathland species but also found in damp lowland meadows. Soon to go hibernate as full-grown larvae, to pupate in spring, emerging as adults in May /June.'
Thanks to Martin Tordoff, moth expert for Arnside Natural History Society