Encircled by fells, Scout Scar is all about vistas. On a day of clarity it's spectacular. Clouds rise up over the fells and a wet summer ends with resplendent cloudscapes. The day is still and warm with a herbal fragrance and there's a play of light through clouds which form and reform, illuminating the earth for a moment, then casting pools of shadow. Fair-weather sunlit clouds against a foil of blues. Grasshopper are loud, raven are vocal and goldfinch flit through skeletal ash-trees. Ash die-back looks stark when trees should be in full leaf.
If the skies are clear tonight we'll see a super moon and a blue moon, a rare coincidence. Today there is a clarity and brightness rarely seen over recent weeks, through a rainy July and August.
Hawthorn is laden with berries and sloes are plentiful. On Helsington Barrows there are drifts of yellow hawkweed but scarcely a butterfly to be seen. At this season I hope to see swallows mustering. Sometimes hundreds of them will gather on trees close to the escarpment as they prepare to migrate to Africa.
‘Everywhere was once like this.’ She regrets a lost Eden, before mankind brought us to the brink, before the Anthropocene. It’s crept up on us, the Anthropocene, but now the scale and pace of man’s destructive impact on the planet is unprecedented.
Delight in Smardale is tinged with regret for what is lost. Up on Crosby Garrett Fell, on Ravenstonedale Common, springs emerge and wend their way down to Scandal Beck to flow through Smardale east to the River Eden.
For three summers we've come here seeking SIlver Washed Fritillary in late July, early August. Three weeks ago hemp agrimony, a favoured nectaring plant, was budding. In the interim, July and early August weather has been showery and cool and on this day last year SIlver Washed Fritillary were ragged but easy to find Watching over some hours their size and wing-shape, their pattern of flight against the dark shadows of the woodland fringe refreshes the jizz and a sense of familiarity.