Daffodils on Loughrigg Terrace: the delicate wild daffodil, the bolder cultivar. Spring comes late to the fells. I remember the year I lived on Loughrigg Fell, amongst its tarns, to catch the first fresh flowers of bog bean.
Along the southern shore of Grasmere, alder catkins cluster thick, with a backdrop of snow toward Fairfield. Strong sunlight shows the subtle colours of leaf bud and fat catkins, but it’s not the camera’s preferred light. I think the female flowers are an exclusive for those who love alder, like my friend Frances and I. They’re tiny and dark but if you like to explore the secret life of trees they’re a wonder. Along the shore of Grasmere there are pollards with hollow trunks and sheltering niches but the walk is popular. The place for wildlife is the south-facing slope below Nab Scar where juniper flourishes on crags out of reach of sheep, then a scree buttress and a secret wood. I love the stone wall that soars up the face of Nab Scar, telling of a time when these fells were the domain of shepherds and their dogs, and when the Coffin Route was the only way for the living and the dead, before the toll road, when Dove Cottage was a pub- The Dove and Olive Branch. When De Quincy rented the cottage and his little son shot down his ranked books with his bow and arrow. Along the Coffin Route is the oak with a troll arsenal, a hollowed out branch crammed with stones for their catapults.