A spectacular hour of mist and sunlight. Wonderful drive to Ash Landing, Windermere, passing field-boundaries of upright slates - the legacy of quarrying and a distinctive feature. Can't stop for photographs. Sub-zero temperatures and frost, with ice-effects on grasses, trees and fallen leaves. A plantation of spruce, needles tipped with ice. I like the contrast between the warm colour of this oak leaf with network of veins and the string of ice-beads on a blade of grass. I'd like to see how these ice-beads were made.
The sun casts long winter shadows over hoar frost, sapping colour from green pastures. The fells are sombre and ill-defined. The hoar frost has the Lyth Valley in its clutches. Enchantment comes closer and I’ve never seen Gamblesmire Lane in such rollicking mood, enlivened by sunlight and shadow. The pallor of the grey frost subdues the landscape. A mistlethrush sings from a hawthorn above the escarpment, taking flight as runners approach. Down from their rookery, rooks forage on pastureland and the sun glosses them deep in colour. A holly intertwines with an ash and a bright speck of colour catches my eye. What can it be?
The cliffs are white and acrid with guano, dark with a frieze of seabirds as our boat approaches Staple Island. The Farne Islands is a seabird spectacle, cliffs a tight-packed throng in the breeding season. On a fine day in May a fleet of boats brings visitors who crowd the cliff-top barrier, up close with binoculars and cameras. We look into a shag’s throat, hear its bizarre clicks and hissings, a fight breaks out. Arctic tern eggs are so close to the path the birds dive at us to protect them. Our shoulders are smeared with pooh. A rare seabird experience which we cannot take for granted.
When the sun goes down on a January snowscape the temperature falls fast and the sight of a distant farmstead gleaming white is comforting. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to an isolated farm such as this one below The Band, the ridge coming off Bowfell and emerging from cloud. For hundreds of years the farmstead has meant sanctuary, respite from the winter weather. This morning the fells looked magical under snow and cloud, sunlight and shadow picking out the architecture of the mountains, contour and sharp arête. I stood gazing as cloudscape and light was constantly changing. Here's a sequence of the images I took.
Ethereal light glowed over Lingmoor Fell. The Langdales rose snow-clad and, through binoculars, I could make out Stake Pass and Rossett Pike. Descending from Bowfell, the ridge known as The Band was brilliant in sunlight. Through the morning, cloud began to gather, casting shadows over the fells. Winter woods coloured-up, faded, plunged into gloom. On Scout Scar there was a scatter of light snow, the bracken slopes of Lingmoor seem free of it. Ice on Brigsteer Road: flashing lights warned a car had overturned- its occupants appeared unharmed.
A photographer's day, with clarity and sunlight that coloured winter heather and bracken. As we headed for Brunt Knott we looked west above a pastoral landscape where sunlight gleamed a white farmstead, highlighting contours and green lanes. In the distance rose the Lake District Fells. Heather moorland in winter sunlight is a subtle mix of colours and a hatching of shadows patterned pale grass tussocks. My haul of images should have been memorable. If witchcraft had not intervened.
Do you really want to join Linked-in, a friend asked. Two minutes thought and I knew I did not. So I unsubscribed, over and over again. Linked-in will not take no for an answer. Their emails come thick
I'm concerned to know how Linked- in accessed my list of email contacts. I never gave permission.
New moon and a heaven full of stars with cold from the Arctic. The morning still and bright. Ice on the pools at Leighton Moss, frost on fence posts. Siskin fed on seed released from alder cones, amidst catkins flushed purple. We heard a few fieldfare but could not see them, and we wonder if large flocks of redwing and fieldfare are a thing of the past. The siskin feed high in the tops of alder but nuthatch and coal tits come down onto logs beside our path to take the food put out for them.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)