The elusive Green Hair Streak

Green Hair Streak

The Green Hair Streak (Callophrys rubi) is the UK’s only truly green butterfly.  Whilst not yet endangered, it is not easy to find and tends to live in small colonies near its favourite food and larval plants.  Mid April until the end of June is the best time to see Green Hair Streaks and, knowing that a small colony exists on a local hillside near where there is plenty of its favoured bilberry, Steve set out to see if he could find any.  As luck would have it there were two of the tiny creatures flying and briefly landing, though despite following them through the vegetation for a long time, they never paused long enough to permit a good photograph (the image is from a previous encounter at the same place).

These butterflies are about the size of an adult’s thumbnail and blend in to their surroundings making them hard to spot.  They always perch with their wings closed, which is when the green undersides to their wings become apparent.  The name ‘Hair streak’ comes from the faint white line, or line of white dots on the green underwings, though this can vary significantly between individual animals.  Several other British butterflies also have the hair streak marking and name: the Purple, Black, Brown and White Letter Hairstreaks.

If you are interested in learning more about natural history or would just enjoy a nature walk with information and insight into the surrounding environment, then Steve will be pleased to help.  Get in touch at or on 07796 213817.

By |May 14th, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on The elusive Green Hair Streak

Ermine in Newlands


Whilst out in Newlands recently we had the good fortune to have an ermine running along the hedgerow beside us, the first time we’d ever encountered a fully white coated stoat in the Lakes.  Ermine actually refers to the dense white winter coat of the stoat (Mustela erminea), though not all stoats turn fully white in winter: those living in warmer climes may only partially change colour, or not change at all.  Stoats are fearless predators with the ability to take prey much bigger than themselves – they can kill a rabbit with a bite to the back of the neck.  The stoat is our second smallest mustelid; it has a black tip to its tail and has a bounding gate, which is a good way to differentiate it from the smaller weasel (the world’s smallest carnivore), which runs while remaining level and has no black tail tip.  The mustelid family in the UK is also represented in the wild by badgers, otters, pine martens and polecats.  American mink are the descendants of escapes from fur farms, whilst ferrets are domesticated, selectively bred polecats.

If you’d like to know more about the nature on your doorstep, Steve will be happy to help.  He offers guided nature and mountain walks on which to explore and explain the environment around you.  Get in touch on 07796 213817 or at

By |March 26th, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on Ermine in Newlands

Gone to the Dodds

Winter Wind Sculpture

Steve ventured out on what seemed likely to be the last day of Winter conditions as the weather turned to the West with impending storms from the Atlantic.  With the wind speeds already very high and the wind chill severe, a walk from Thirlmere up to Sticks Pass and back over the three Dodds and Clough Head was the order of the day.  Visibility was still excellent despite the mini-blizzard of spindrift blasting across the surface.  Only a few competent and appropriately equipped folk were about in these challenging conditions.

Even in the Lake District, the difference between valley conditions and those experienced on the summits can be very significant – as was the case on this day.  If you would like support to venture into such environments safely and with a very experienced guide, Steve will be pleased to help and advise.  Call him on 07796 213817 or email

By |January 22nd, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history, Winter Mountain Walking|Comments Off on Gone to the Dodds

Blencathra in Winter

Halls Fell Ridge

The recent snow and freezing temperatures led to the winter mountaineering gear being dusted down for a foray up Hallsfell Ridge and down Doddick Fell on Blencathra.  A great walk with fabulous views was had in excellent conditions.

If you’d like support to take advantage of these fleeting winter mountain opportunities either in the Lakes or Scotland, Steve will be pleased to help.  He can ensure that you have the appropriate equipment and, more importantly, know how and when to use it.  He can be contacted on 07796 213817 or by email at

By |January 22nd, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history, Winter Mountain Walking|Comments Off on Blencathra in Winter

Mell Fell

Mell Fell

Plunging temperatures encouraged an afternoon foray up both Great and Little Mell Fell.  The image is from Little Mell Fell looking West towards Great Mell with Blencathra beyond.  Interestingly, The Mell Fells and adjacent Gowbarrow are comprised of conglomerate from the late Devonian geological period (c375 mya).  which lasted from approximately 420 million years ago until 360 million years ago.  These are the only Devonian rocks in England and are a sedimentary rock formed from water transported alluvium in a desert environment.

If you are interested in broadening your knowledge of the outdoor environment – or would just like some support for your winter walking adventures, Steve will be pleased to help.   Just get in touch at or call 07796 213817.

By |January 16th, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on Mell Fell

Out Foxed


Whilst out on a New Year’s eve bike ride, Steve encountered the Blencathra Foxhounds as he rode past Carrock Fell, along with a large group of people watching them from below.  As he rode down the other side of the valley, the fox popped out of the hedge and ran down the road for several hundred metres in front of his bike.  Presumably, the fox was not taking any chances that the hounds would obey the law and run right by, so had opted for the safety first approach of escaping unseen behind the foxhounds and their spectators.

Whilst Steve can’t promise personal encounters with foxes, he is happy to provide mountain and natural history days out in the Lakes and further afield.  Call or email to discuss your interests on 07796 213817 or

By |January 3rd, 2024|Environment, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on Out Foxed

A punctuated walk

Cumbrian Comma

A warm early Autumn day found us on a quiet woodland walk.  We came across a wild rose bush festooned with rose hips.  It was also covered in butterflies enjoying the sugar from the hips as they split open to release their seeds.  Whilst the majority of the butterflies were Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta), we did also spot a pair of Commas (Polygonia c-album) and managed to photograph them whilst perching.  The Comma typically emerges in March to April and the brood emerges in June and July.  There are two forms and the hutchinsoni form will, if the weather is suitably warm, have a second brood which emerges in August and September.  The hutchinsoni form has more brightly coloured upper wings with paler underwings, though has the distinctive white comma mark on the underwing as with all of this species – hence the name.  The butterfly in the image is a male, as identified by its more deeply indented, serrated wing edges and stronger markings.

If you are interested in discovering and understanding the nature on your doorstep, but would like some guidance and support, Steve will be very pleased to help.  He runs all manner of natural history and environmental days and walks on demand as required.  Get in touch to chat about your needs on 07796 213817 and at

By |October 1st, 2023|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on A punctuated walk

Barf & Lord’s Seat


We had a great day out in the heat on Barf, Lord’s Seat and in Whinlatter Forest.  Following a brief to avoid the crowds and to provide something rocky, steep and adventurous we scaled Barf straight up from Thornthwaite.  This route is not for the faint hearted or physically unfit (not an issue in our case) as it comprises steep scree and exposed crags.  It did though, meet the requirements and a grand day out was had by all.

Those driving along the A66 past Thornthwaite will likely have noticed the large white rock high on the side of Barf.  Local folklore has it that in 1783 the Bishop of Derry, who was staying in the Swan Inn at the foot of Barf, wagered he could ride his horse directly up to the summit. Unfortunately, the horse fell or died part way up (some versions say the bishop also was killed, though records show he died in Italy in 1803 of gout).  As a memorial to these exploits or, perhaps, the horse, the staff of the inn (and latterly the village residents) painted the prominent rock on the route white, a tradition which has endured to this day.  There is a smaller white painted rock at the foot of the route known as The [Bishop’s] Clerk.  Whatever the truth of the various tales, Barf does provide a route to its summit which is exciting and interesting and which does go past The Clerk and The Bishop enroute.

If you’d like Steve’s assistance with your mountain adventures please get in touch on 07796 213817 or

By |September 7th, 2023|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on Barf & Lord’s Seat

Walla Crag

Walla Crag lichens

A group of Indian women who had been to university together 40 years ago, and who now live around the world, had a reunion in the Lake District.  Steve was asked to provide a day out to engage with the environment, so a walk along the shore of Derwentwater with a traverse of Walla Crag to Keswick provided a fitting excursion.  The weather was kind and a super day was had with lots of interesting natural history, stunning views and not a little exercise!  We were keen to enjoy the vistas and also to examine the flora and fauna – including these different lichen species on a hawthorn tree.

If you would like Steve’s support for your day out in the Lakes, whatever your needs, he’ll be pleased to hear from you.  Please get in touch on 07796 213817 or

By |April 28th, 2023|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain|Comments Off on Walla Crag

Bowscale Tarn

Bowscale Tarn

The sun has finally made an appearance in the Lake District following what seems like eternal rain and wind.  This led many people to rush to the hills to enjoy the warmer and dry conditions.  Not to be left out, we had a half day stroll to Bowscale Tarn which was still quiet and tranquil.  Many Lakeland tarns have now become interesting to wild swimmers, an activity which has developed very rapidly in recent years.  We did dip a hand in the water and, despite the relatively warm air temperature, the water was bitterly cold – there was still snow clinging to the Northern headwall of the corrie.  We’d certainly want a wet suit to go in there!

If you’d like Steve’s support to explore the Lakes, up high, down low or somewhere in between, he’ll be pleased to help – though not necessarily keen to swim!  Get in touch on 07796 213817 and

By |April 20th, 2023|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain|Comments Off on Bowscale Tarn
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