Sunrise gilds the Kentmere tops and down in the dale the puddled track is iced over. To be in Kentmere once more feels like a home-coming.
It is lambing time and the rhythms of pastoral feel remote from the world beyond the dale. By Kentmere Hall, a farmer drives his quadbike through the pasture to deliver feed to heavily pregnant ewes.
The sun is brighter, the Rainsbarrow Crag quarries are long-silent, secluded and green. Here I’ve found peregrine and wheatear in the past, and montane flora on a quarried rock-face. Adits, entrances to quarrymen’s tunnels show on Rainsbarrow Crag. Quarry spoil, like scree, spills from an adit. Below Rainsborrow Crag, below the wall, their cryptic colouring merging with winter grasses, a herd of deer. A peregrine calls over Tongue Scar. I like the mysteries and uncertainties of the place.
We walk around Kentmere Reservoir, stonechat and pied wagtails close to the water. Waterfalls before the River Kent flows into the reservoir. I remember waterfalls on LIngmell Gill, descending from Nan Bield Pass. The reflections in the reservoir are beguiling. An interlude of contemplation as we try to fathom these mirror images. It’s so still they are so precise the water has disappeared and the reflected knolls and valleys look as if we could step forth and walk on what we know is water but resembles land.
At Jumb Quarry a female wheatear perches sunlit on a rock, its white vent visible.
Raven over Tongue Scar where once there was a Viking settlement. Ivan Dickinson’s pure bred Rough Fell ewes from Brockstones feed on sheep-nuts in troughs in their barn yard. His flock with long white fleeces is stained with red and blue. Ewes will begin lambing in a couple of days . Two lambs already. Their mothers were tupped up on Kentmere Common before the ewes were brought off and tupping began according to the farmer’s plan. Ivan Dickinson says the RSPB dislike his sheep and numbers in Mardale are now so low his Rough Fells stray from their hefts over to Mardale. I first met Ivan Dickinson well over a decade ago and at lambing time I’ve met him since when he’s tending his flock beside this outlying barn.
Kentmere feels like a home-coming. It isn’t far from home but lockdown put it out of reach. It’s a joy to return once more.