New Year's Day had seen sharp showers all day. This had to be better. There was sun, a glimmering winter light, gusty winds and hail showers.
In November, we were in Smardale and were attracted not only to the long tails of the Swaledales, but their unusual shape. Narrow near the rump, the tail plumps out like a bottle brush. These Borrowdale ewes showed the same feature. Is that how they grow naturally? The Smardale flock looked like poodles!
Once again, I began to notice that the grass was peppered with the tunnels of field mice, voles, shrews. We had reached a habitat of tussocks, perfect for small mammals. Here the sky grew darker and as I struggled into waterproof trousers against the hail I kept an eye on those little holes tunnelling into the tussocks.
Young trees had been planted north of the beck, still in their plastic sleeves. Native species, they would be. Ashtead Fell has plantations and boggy ground within them.
A bracing day's walk to complete our personal map of the area.