Plumes of hare’s-tail cotton grass catch the light over Hare Shaw where the moors are rich in flowers of cross-leaved heath, bell heather and green-budding ling. To the west, the lost village of Mardale is a ghostly presence, resurrected from Haweswater in a summer of drought. The Old Corpse Road rises over Mardale Common where once the villagers grazed their flocks. The dead were borne over the moor to Swindale Head and on to Shap to be buried.
The hobs of Hobgrumble Gill have seen it all, the coffin- bearers coming off the high-summer moor, Atlantic salmon spawning, brown trout, and flower-rich meadows . They might well puzzle over today’s JCBs working all along Swindale Beck, at the 21st century technology invoked to return this tributary of River Eden to its former glory, to restore the beck’s slow meandering course through the dale, with all the benefits of flood prevention, water quality, with wildflowers and insects in the meadows.
Haweswater Nature Reserve, declares a new version of the OS map. Up on the moors there is tree planting: slips of hawthorn, hazel, birch and guelder rose.
*Grimm and Andersen fairy tale. Cotton grass gathered as thread to sew shirts occurs as a motif in a fairy tale collected by the brothers Grimm. Known variously as The Seven Princes, The Six Swans, The Wild Swans.
The RSPB gives a succinct appraisal of conservation work at Haweswater Nature Reserve and Swindale Beck. Sites about the Eden catchment give management plans for this large river system.
Countryfile. 17 July 2016 on meadows and Coronation Meadows
20 July 2016. Farming Today: Coronation Meadows and Hills to Levels- flood control measures
28 September 2016. Publication of a report from the Green Alliance and National Trust. With Farming Today visiting Swindale.
Thanks to Vic and Eleanor Quaglieni for another splendid walk in home territory