An atmospheric day. Lurid light, darkness, low cloud hugging the tops. The profile of Pen Y Ghent was lost in cloud. Red grouse was the motif of the day. A chorus of red grouse accompanied my approach to Pen Y Ghent through the heather encircling its lower slopes. Go back, go back, they called. So many, cackling in a range of different notes. They broke cover and flew low, perching on hummocks, disappearing amongst tussocks of grass. Their calls gave the morning an air of solitude as Pen Y Ghent loomed out of the mizzle. Climbing the stone staircase to the top, always the call of red grouse from the heather below.
Light in the landscape was fitful but there was fine colour in the vegetation on the lower slopes of the fell. Common cotton grass with bright green mosses, deer grass of a bronze green, orange lichen on stone walls, and late flowering heather. History is palpable beneath your feet on this track of stone slabs that keep you clear of bog and protect vegetation. You walk stone slabs that once floored the mills so abundant hereabouts. Pen Y Ghent did not emerge from the mist until we had left the top and come down lower on the northern side. This eroded flank shows the effect of pressure on so popular a route, being rough, stony and spreading wide.
The sun broke through cloud and the day grew warm. Whernside and Ingleborough came into view.
Jan Wiltshire is a nature writer living in Cumbria. She also explores islands and coast and the wildlife experience. (See Home and My Books.)