These daffodils appear days after Christmas.
Just beside the village pond.
This year and every single year.
A frosty walk on New Year’s Eve with my Virtual Dog had me taking snapshots of the icy puddles I came across. This was the last one. Here be monsters, ghosts, puppets, all kinds of flights of fancy. What can your imagination come up with as you peer at this ghastly frozen face?
And as it was my last shot of the month, I’ll pop it in for Brian at Bushboy’s World Last on the Card event. I’ve had to make it square for this month’s Square Up challenge, but apart from that, this icy image is just as it appeared, winking up at me from a frigid, frosted muddy path.
And there’s always Six Word Saturday, too …
Weather forecast. Cold, but bright and sunny. That sounded perfect for a walk in Wharfedale. Starting and finishing at the forbiddingly-named Grimwith Reservoir, and taking a fine circular route to and from Burnsall would give us extensive panoramas over the hills of the Yorkshire Dales.
Except that on the way there, an impenetrable curtain of fog descended. To walk? Or not to walk? My friend and I had both made the effort to get there. So we’d walk.
And for nearly an hour, this was our landscape. No hills, no dales, but just the occasional gate, or tussocky grass, or – sometimes – sheep.
Then – suddenly it seemed – this.
The sky lightened and brightened, and the countryside we’d come to see developed before our eyes like those Polaroid photos that once seemed so exciting.
Soon we were at Burnsall, our half-way mark. A hearty yomp up hill brought us to a bench, where we saw in turn black skies, grey skies, blue skies: and views, always with the village below us.
After lunch, a further climb, and then level walking back to where we’d begun our day. But this time we had the views we’d come to see, and at the end, the quiet tints of the reservoir.
‘I don’t take kindly to your tramping so near to my nest and my fledglings. Kindly desist’
‘We’re only here to take photos. We’re birdwatchers – kind of – and we’re only here for a couple of hours’.
‘We’ve met your kind before. Go away or I’ll peck a hole in your hat!’
‘That’s unkind. We’re kindred spirits here. We love the Farne Islands too. All you Arctic terns, thousands and thousands of you. And so many other kinds of bird too’
‘Frankly, you kindle nothing but feelings of irritation and annoyance. Just … go away.’
Dumfries & Galloway is our new favourite place. We felt as though we’d discovered it and had it all to ourselves. We explored the wildly beautiful and seemingly remote Cairnsmore of Fleet National Natural Nature Reserve. We found ancient cairns. We slogged up hills for the sake of views over the Solway Firth. And we enjoyed the beaches. We’ll take a virtual seaside trip today: there’s not a fairground ride, amusement arcade or kiss-me-quick hat in sight. There’s not even a chippie. Just us, the rocky shore, and the sea, advancing or retreating with the tide.
Let’s begin at Mossyard Bay. I sent you a postcard from there just last Thursday.
Near Mutehill, Kirkudbright, early one morning.
Finally, Carsethorne, near Dumfries. It’s a small hamlet now, but it used to be a busy port, shipping people to Liverpool, to the Isle of Man and to Ireland on their way to a new life in the New World.
I love bleak. Typically rolling English countryside is lovely. And you can’t beat a verdant Daleside vista, criss-crossed with dry stone walls dividing its pastureland, its river along the valley floor edged with trees. But here in Yorkshire, every now and then, I have to have my fix of bleak.
And one way to do this is to go over to Angram and Scar House reservoirs, both constructed in Nidderdale during the inter-war years last century, to provide water for the citizens of Bradford. Here are slopes, sculpted by long-gone streams and the often savage weather. These hillsides are covered in thin, tussocky grass – and not much else. Few trees. Few buildings – the odd hunting lodge or barn. But there are sheep, and birdlife too. One of our memories of walking here was once seeing a small meadow pipit struggling to feed ‘her’ baby, a cuckoo fledgling three times her size.
My friend Sandra and I went there this week. The day was perfect. Not too hot and not too cold. Briskly breezy. And as we arrived , the reservoir was as blue as we’ve ever seen it, almost cobalt in its intensity. We planned to walk our way round both reservoirs.
Which way though? Clockwise? Anti-clockwise? Sandra counselled clockwise, and Sandra won. That way, we’d get a slightly boring bit of track over and done with. We’d get the wind-in-our-faces over and done with. And most importantly, we’d get the squishier, less managed paths of Angram Reservoir over and done with.
It’s rained a lot lately, so walking round Angram involves some wet pathways. Not muddy, just paddleable. Juncus grass lining the route offered the odd springboard to drier grassy ground. But with water to right of us, bald barren hillside to left of us , the route is easy to see. And each reservoir terminates in a stout dam, each worthy of walk in its own right, and in Angram’s case, with water tumbling to its sister reservoir below.
Finally we left our wet pathways behind, and joined the springier drier turf pathways of Scar House Reservoir where sheep kept us company.
But even though we knew from the car park that we weren’t alone, we felt that this particular expanse of hillside, sky and water was ours and only ours for the six and a half mile walk in the middle of nowhere.
Zoë. Our granddaughter. Born 7th August 2018, at just 28 weeks, and weighing 1.19 kg.
What a difference two years make.