In the Antarctic, old ice erupts like a volcano and freezes solid about the Australian research ship, stuck since Christmas Eve. Phenomenal.
Chesil Beach is heaved about in a succession of storms, reshaped. Off Portland, a landmark sea-stack is shattered. The waves pounding the sea-front at Aberystwyth feature on the news over and over. On the Somerset Levels , the village of Muchelney is only accessible by boat. The power and energy of the sea is a source of wonder, and fear.
With all this drama and turbulence it seems churlish to grumble about gloomy days. But with some five weeks of relentless rain the dreariness penetrates, even if you’ve escaped the floods. After the darkness, sunlight is inspirational.
From Witherslack, we climbed up through the wood below Whitbarrow Scar and up on the ridge we came to birch trees. This way the wind blows, the prevailing south westerlies have swept the trees into shape. Little wind today, a respite in successive storms.
Moments of sunlight gleamed white on birch bark, their crowns a wintry purple haze. The cloudscape was volatile and full of colour. What a superb day, coming after weeks of darkness and rain!
image. Looking south on Whitbarrow, with Morecambe Bay catching the sunlight.
A roving spotlight picked out a tree, and moved on. The snowy fells plunged into darkness.
On Yewbarrow, Vic Quaglieni drew my attention to a couple of tree stumps with fan-shaped brackets of fungus rotting on wood. Fiona is quick to identify Turkeytail, Trametes versicolor. She would have known anyway, but her son gave her a new book on fungi for Christmas, so she’s on good form. I’m focused on taking photographs and doing my best to be quick about it. You rapidly lose yourself in taking photographs. Look up, and the others are disappearing into the distance.
I once found yellow brain fungus, Tremella mesentrica, on a dead ash on a limestone terrace on Whitbarrow It was so striking, looking like bright yellow polythene snagged in the tree.