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In January I went out to Mazonwath to have another go at drystone walling. Thankfully it wasn’t as cold as my last visit, this was mostly due to the blanket of cloud which has been covering Cumbria for the last few days.

Throughout the morning we began to dismantle the wall back to its foundations, we found that there were a fair amount of large stones which needed to be moved as their time standing strong against the elements has caused them to shift away from the original foundations, and cause the wall to collapse. By eleven the wall was cleared to the ground and the first foundation stones or footing had been put back in. As always at Mazonwath I marvel at the amazing fossils which can be found in the stone. I believe the fossil below is a form of coral, these types of fossils are common in the walling stone at Mazonwath.

If you look closely there’s a bonus fossil of what looks like a limpet or another gastropod.

Whilst dismantling the wall the discovery of three small skeletons was made, a rabbit, a bird and possibly a vole or mouse, but without a skull I couldn’t tell.  The remains of these creatures were found within an area of approximately one metre and had been there how knows long! Drystone walls can stand for many years providing a haven from the elements for all kinds of creatures from insects to rabbits and birds. After inspection and taking some photographs I replaced the skeletons back in the wall.

The skulls of the bird (left) and the rabbit (Right)

 It was slow going until lunchtime as the stones were so big that they took three people to lift them! After lunch the fog had cleared enough that I could go up to the common and have a walk round. I had intended on walking across the top to the cairn and some other points as well as the Hawthorn tree. However, the fog had cleared a little but not enough for me to walk further than 200 metres from the road.

The old Dowly tree had an eerie feel to it with the misty background

The new tree fold in the mist

 The common can be disorientating at the best of times as it is larger than you may think and there are dips and small hills across the landscape which can throw you off, but the fog meant that any landmarks weren’t visible, so I thought it best to keep the road in site whilst I did my exploring. The stunning views you might usually get at Little Asby weren’t visible but it was atmospheric none the less! The most striking thing was the serene silence of the landscape.  The fog muffled the sound of any nearby traffic and there were no birds around to be heard, with the exception of the odd crow, It was very peaceful. I would recommend having a walk up to the common, once the fog has cleared, if only to experience the tranquillity and quiet that is few and far between in this busy world, but remember to take a map!