From Rosthwaite, I climbed up through chilly shadows and into the sun as I approached Joppelty How. Clarity, with Bassenthwaite showing in the distance and streaks of snow on the northern fells. Heather habitat was the dominant motif of this walk, both on Brund Fell and around Dock Tarn. Frogspawn at the foot of a ladder stile. Not a good choice, Mrs Frog.
Homeward bound, via St Johns in the Vale, I stopped beside the beck to talk to a young farmer. They had bought a digger and were clearing mounds of rock and gravel, debris dumped during the flood of November 2009. The cost of moving it off the land proved prohibitive to farmers, and there were conflicts of interest in the clear-up. Closer to the farm, sections of the bank of St John’s Beck had collapsed with a build-up of gravels and rock reaching under the bridge. They wanted to reclaim a hay meadow and to prevent major flooding in the future, but it’s a salmon river and he told me Natural England didn’t want it disturbed.
Saturday 17 April. In Iceland, Eyjafjallajokull began to erupt during March, and by 15th April eruptions were more forceful, with plumes of ash. This volcano erupted through an ice cap, and exploded to create silica particles dangerous to aircraft engines. Jet aircraft must fly at high altitude for maximum efficiency, they could fly neither above nor below the cloud of volcanic ash and in an emergency they must descend through the ash without the specialist equipment to detect it. So the skies over Europe were shut down and there was a profound peace. Gin-clear skies were predicted, and a light westerly breeze. Up on Joppelty How there was no sign of this plume of ash ejected to some 33,000 feet but already depositing a layer of fine material on the ground in Shetland.
During the week there had been high pressure with warm weather and days of sunlight. Bog myrtle grew thick about outcropping rock with catkins of warm gold, full of pollen and aromatic. The outer casing of the bud tinged them rosy-brown and there were deep pink flowers whilst the leaf buds bided their time. Exquisite bog myrtle catkins. A vole or mouse scurried into the cover of a tussock of winter-pale grass. A pair of goosander swam on Dock Tarn
Bog myrtle is distinctive for its fragrance. And its catkins are one of the earliest flowers of the fells.