Lancs & Cornwall 06
Day 4 - Bird of Prey Centre -
Settle, Devils Bridge - Kirby Lonsdale, Ambleside - Lake District.
Monday, 18 Sep. 2006 - One thing that we both really wanted
to do before going down to Cornwall was to stop in and see the
Yorkshire Dales Falconry & Conservation Centre in Settle. We
made plans to try and go early in the week to ensure that if the
weather was bad we would still have time to reschedule the trip.
Fortunately, we woke up to a nice bright, clear sunny day. We
got ready to leave fairly early in the morning and since Andy knew how
to get there he decided that we wouldn't need to bring the sat-nav
system with us.
Driving along the A65 proved to be a lot of fun and I was really
enjoying the twisty road. This twisty road was a great way to
get the feel of what the car and myself were capable of and I was
slowly building up speed while going around the corners. I could
definitely understand why this road was so popular with bikers as it
would give anyone a nice challenge. Things were going
really well and I thought I had a good idea of how well I could drive
the car going around some of these corners when I underestimated how
sharp the next bend would prove to be. I expected a nice corner
similar to the ones I had been going around so I didn't slow down for
the corner at all, instead I got a 160�
sharp bend which almost proved more then I was able to handle.
Fortunately with some gentle breaking and serious G's I was able to
make it around the corner, but my heart was in my throat. I'm
not sure if Andy realized that I was almost in over my head, but
fortunately he's a really good passenger and didn't say anything about
it. I learned my lesson though and prepared for corners in the
While I was enjoying the drive, I was expecting Andy to be paying
attention to where we going since he knew the place and I was simply
following the road. Before I knew it Andy said , we're here, turn!
We were both surprised at how easy it was to find a parking spot close
to the entrance as we were expecting there to be a fair amount of
people there. We went in and paid for our tickets to see the
birds and found out that the first show was going to be in about half
an hour. This gave us time to wander around and look at all the
different birds they had before the show. They had over twenty
different types of birds of prey on display, most of which I had never
a bit of confusion as to where the bird show was going to take place
as we thought it was going to be down in the display area, but it
ended up being halfway up the hill near where most of the birds were
kept. There were only four people there for the show so it was a
lot easier to interact with the presenter and ask questions if we
wanted. The first bird that we saw was the Bateleur Eagle which
was a nice looking bird which had a very graceful flight and could
glide for a long time. The second type of bird we saw was a pair
of Hooded Vultures. These were a lot bigger and a lot more
interesting as you could see how alert they were and that all they
really cared about was getting the food from their handler. They
even worked together as a team, one to distract the handler while the
second one would sneak up behind and steal something from the food
sack. It wasn't very easy for the handler to get them to fly as
they didn't see the point of it and even when they did fly it was as
little as absolutely needed in order to get the food reward. The
third and final bird we saw was a barn owl. The barn owl didn't
seem to mind flying around for us and demonstrated how good owls were
at flying very low to the ground and how quiet they were when passing
us. Once the owl got tired of flying it landed on the fence
behind us where we were able to pet the bird and feel how incredibly
soft it's feathers were. You could also tell that it was still
on alert and scanning the ground for any signs of movement.
After the presentation was over, Andy and I decided that it was time
to have lunch and since they had a cafeteria at the centre we decided
to eat there. Unfortunately our lunch wasn't nearly as
satisfying as we hoped it would be. After ordering our food, we
found a place to sit, but the seats were simply hard wooden benches
and chairs which I didn't find to be the most comfortable. When
the food did come Andy and I were both concerned since the waitress
wasn't sure which what each of the plates contained and had to go back
to check the boxes to figure out what she was serving us. This
really didn't inspire confidence in the meal, even before taking the
During our meal Andy and I debated whether we should stay for another
presentation or if we should find something else to do. We asked
when the next presentation was and found out that it was going to
happen shortly after we finished eating so we decided to stay for
another demo, but we weren't going to stay for the third one which was
going to happen a few hours after the second one.
second demonstration was down in the display area and after talking
things over, we decided that Andy was going to stay up top and film
the demonstration and the birds flying from a distance while I went
down to the display area with a few other people who stopped in while
we were having lunch. Again it was as small group so the
demonstration was a lot more personalized then it would have been with
a larger group. This demonstration started off very quickly and I was
surprised to have been clipped in the head by the first bird on
display, a Lappet-faced Vulture, swooping down to buzz the crowd!
This still a young bird who was still learning to judge distances and
learning to hunt properly but he had an amazing wing-span.
The next bird on display was a type of falcon (I can't remember the
name of the bird) that didn't really want to co-operate very much.
The presenter tried to get it to catch a moving target, but it kept
flying back to it's pen. In the end it did catch the target once
and was given it's reward but overall the performance wasn't the best,
which was a little disappointing.
The final bird on display was another barn own. Again the owl
didn't want to fly very much but it was willing to fly from a perch to
someone's waiting arm. For me this was the highlight of the
entire show. Since there was such as small group of people and
the previous display was a lot shorter then expected, the presenter
allowed each of us to hold the owl. When it came my turn I got
so excited that I started dropping everything, including Andy's
digital camera! After a heart stopping moment to find out if the
camera still worked, which thankfully it did do, I passed it on to
another gentleman who offered to take a photo of me holding the owl.
I donned the thick leather glove to protect us from the birds sharp
talon's and the presenter made the gesture to call the owl. He
quickly flew to my hand and I was amazed at how light the owl was and
remembers how soft it's feathers were from the first demonstration.
I turned to the side to allow the gentleman to take a photo of the owl
and I! After he was done taking the photo with Andy's camera, he
wanted to take another photo with his camera, however the presenter
didn't hear that comment and started asking me to hand the owl back to
which I replied "one more moment please!" I'm not sure the
presenter was overly pleased with this so I explained that I was
awaiting another photo but he kept insisting I hand the owl back.
After the gentleman quickly took a photo on his camera I reluctantly
handed the owl back to the presenter and he quickly took both the bird
and glove from in, probably in fear that I would walk away with his
charge or something!
After the second demonstration, we decided that we had enough of the
Falconry centre and after a brief discussion we decided to drive to Devils Bridge
in Kirkby Longsdale; a popular destination for weekend biker parties.
Andy had many fond memories of the place and wanted to show it off to
found one of the signs in the parking lot amusing as it stated that
only bikes were allowed to park there on weekends. We spend
about an hour looking over the bridge and talking about some of the
fun experiences that Andy had in his younger years. Most of
these stories are probably best left in the past so he doesn't get
into any more trouble!
While there we got talking about some of the road trips that Andy used
to take with Pete out to the Grizedale Forest Visitors Centre.
Since we still had a lot of daylight left and no other plans for the
day we decided to head out towards the lake district in hopes of
finding the Grizedale forest to see if it was still open since Andy
hadn't been back in a long time. As mentioned earlier, we
decided not to bring the sat-nav system so again we were relying on
Andy's memory to get us to our destination. A large part of the
drive was on a large highway system that my mom and I took on our way
to Scotland the previous year. I found driving on the highway
much easier then the smaller roads and felt very comfortable.
We made our way through the lake district and drove around Lake
Windemere looking for any indication that we were approaching
Grizedale Forest. We went through the nice little towns of
Windemere and Ambleside on the journey and stopped off to take a photo
of the lake. However during our travels we didn't see any signs
pointing towards the Grizedale Forest, let alone any sort of visitors
centre. Andy insisted that we were close to it as things looked
vaguely familiar but alas in the end we didn't find our destination
and we decided it was time to head back towards Andy's since it was
getting late and we put many more miles in the car then we initially
intended to do.
Click here to see more of today's photos.
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