I have an idea of the shots I’d like, I know the aspect and I experiment with elevation, up the slope and down again as perspectives change. I have a secret location in mind. Since the time of Storm Desmond, 5 December 2015, when next day I took a photo sequence of floodwaters in the Lyth Valley, Helsington Pool has fascinated me. The Lyth Valley was wetland until the time of Enclosure so it lacks the quirky medieval pattern of field-systems. Field boundaries are in straight lines like a grid imposed on a landscape and, because land is at sea-level, a drainage ditch runs beside almost every hedgerow- a pattern visible on the OS map, and after a day of thunderstorms. Helsington Pool defies the pattern with its sinuous curves and meandering course. Drain, dike and pool across the mosses. The watercourse of Helsington Pool drains south to join the River Gilpin to its confluence with the River Kent, debouching into Morecambe Bay.
Dobdale Hill can’t make its mind up: hill or dale? Not surprised at the confusion, it’s scarcely a knoll, a single contour where an outcrop of rock breaks through the peat of the mosses. I do believe I can make out the little owl sitting on the roof-ridge of the barn, with maximum zoom and a little imagination. Before the hump-back bridge is a chocolate coloured field of bare earth, with standing water after yesterday’s storms.
The bubbling song of the curlew drifts from below. A redstart sings somewhere in the fringe of wood below the tiers of cliff that descend to the valley. I hear a voice and make out a house hidden away in the trees. I wonder if kids today are taught about crop-rotation and letting the ground lie fallow. There are pastures in rich yellow- too distant to tell if they are buttercups but sedges and rushes tell of waterlogged ground and perhaps they're kingcups.
The weather forecast is punctual almost to the hour and blue sky opens up and if I judge the passing white clouds aright the landscape is lit fleetingly.
BB C World Service. A History of Telling Time with Bridget Kendal. I recommend the programme