A low November sun discovers colours rich and rare in autumn trees. A glimmering faerie light casts long shadows. The sun highlights time-sculpted stone on limestone terraces, suffusing WItherslack Hall in a soft glow and flooding the sea at Morecambe Bay with waves of brilliance. Out of November rains and gloom comes a day of wondrous light.
As we walk south toward Morecambe Bay the sun blinds us, concealing rough ground and deep puddles in a rutted track. Dazzling light is a motif of late autumn when the sun is low in the sky.
Long tailed tits call in a birch grove. A flock of fieldfare flies in the distance, silently. We see no-one until we reach limestone terraces with woods to the east where someone sits looking into the trees. Then we hear the baying of hounds and a hunting horn, all invisible. The hounds give tongue and their calls ring through the wood. We hear them to the west toward Witherslack where the hall glows in a raking light but they crossed the open fell unseen.
Returning with the sun behind us is a wholly different experience and for some while the sun is hidden by cloud. Being out for hours we see the cloudscape changing. From the Hervey Monument we descend by limestone terraces, through birch trees. The dip slope off Whitbarrow escarpment contours gently over some distance and the gate we seek is hidden until you are almost upon it. So we check we have the right track. I speak the fixed features out loud
‘ cairn, low limestone terrace- ignore the blue buckets they can move.’
They do move. They turn to look at us, a couple in blue jackets sitting on a rock. Ooops! A gaffe not easy to explain. My vision includes an element of imagination, the light was poor, they were in blue but who wants to be mistaken for a bucket of cattle feed?
We hear fieldfare somewhere in birch and yew as we come off Whitbarrow.
Whitbarrow is a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Dogs on leads, reads the notice. The hounds hadn't read it.
The rest of the week it’s back to a gloomy November days with blustery winds and rain and darkness that made the wondrous quality of light on Whitbarrow so special.