Curlew can be heard from Kendal Race Course, most mornings. Redpoll and linnet too. The first early purple orchid appears, deep purple and hugging the ground.
Up on Scout Scar there’s an invigorating wind and bright sun.
'It’s worth having, isn’t it? 'a woman says with true British understatement. It;s a glorious morning.
Spring advances apace and, coming here almost daily, we’re alert to seasonal rhythms. Out here is the essence of what we seek. It is innate in humankind, our need of all this – as we rediscover. We forge our community anew, making it stronger as we meet others from the neighbourhood. Those we knew and those unknown to us before.
Meanwhile, Captain Tom Moore, who will celebrate his 100th birthday at the end of April, has raised £18 million for NHS charities by walking his garden. His positive spirit has inspired the nation. Eighteen million pounds and if donations keep on coming he;ll keep on walking.
A wonderful day on Scout Scar- and yes, worth having. We are grateful to have this opportunity during lock-down, we know our good fortune. But yet ---
My friend Frances recommended a BBC 4 programme: The Great Mountain Sheep Gather. And I long for mountain solitude. I remember the days I've spent watching shepherds gather their flocks from common grazing on the high fells. I recall them telling me they need dogs that think for themselves, out of sight out of earshot from the shepherd, when a voice, a whistle, is lost on the wind. A quad bike is useless in such rugged terrain. Oh to set out at starlight, to walk up to the highest point of Scafell Pike, to gather the flock and walk the sheep home. No sound but the calls of the shepherd, the barking of curs, the bleating of Herdwick lambs and their mothers. I think I can hear ring ouzel, I've found them there. To walk the flock home, what a walk! The shepherd has a crook to balance over a steep and rock-strewn mountain side, to reach for a sheep. The joy of this programme is its authenticity. Only the natural soundscape and occasionally the shepherds voice telling how his family has family has farmed here for 120 years. So shepherds, curs and Herdwicks all know this land intimately. No distracting overlay of music. No need of the poetry, it doesn't ring true.
Slow TV, like the Great Reindeer Migration with the Sami- now shown at Christmas. The challenges for photography are comparable- great panning shots over Eskdale, zooming in slowly over crags and scree to close-ups of Herdwicks, the new crop of lambs black, maturing to all shades of chestnut and chocolate to the old grey and white ewes. The flock jostles and tumbles over rough and rugged ground, a camera somehow mounted on a matriarch of the flock. I'd love to know how the filming was done.
The Great Mountain Sheep Gather is perfect for lock-down. If anything inspires a respect for hill farmers and for mountain landscapes this will do it.