As the train pulled out of Lancaster station on Tuesday afternoon and we crossed Carlisle Bridge, I looked out over the Lune, swollen by the high tide, across the Morecambe skyline to see a leaden sky over the Bay, slate grey verging on black. It seemed likely that we were in for an awful lot of weather before too long.
It hadn’t quite arrived when I embarked from the train and I crossed the golf course in strangely bright conditions given that the sky ahead was one huge livid bruise. I reached the Row and was walking past Bank Well when the trees on the far side of the pond suddenly hissed viciously as the rain hit them. I had a few seconds to listen to the surprising volume of the sound, before large wet cold drops were bouncing off me too. I was soaked in seconds.
There was lightening and thunder too. Back at the end of July I had a couple of nights down near Oxford and sat outside in a much more dramatic storm, but then the rain held off for quite some time whilst the the light show was in full swing. On this occasion it was the ferocity of the rain that was most striking. In the few minutes that it took for me to reach the lane that runs past the house, it had become a stream.
When I stumbled into the house, my clothes all clinging to me, my boots full of water, calling for a towel – the kids were delighted, they thought that it was hilarious. Now they’re waiting for a repeat performance.
It’s all too easy to persuade yourself to stay in the warm and dry when the weather is inclement, but some of my favourite memories of days in the outdoors are of fighting the elements and revelling in foul weather. Scotland in winter, crampons on hard snow, fighting the wind for breath and stooping to cower and protect our heads and faces every time a hail shower hit. A lone walker we met described the showers as ‘incoming spite’. Walking down to Torla in the Pyrenees in a thunder storm, on a path that had become a swiftly flowing stream, the thick brown water rumbling rocks down the hill. Sitting on Bowfell in the darkness with a grandstand view of a thunderstorm lighting up the cloudscape in the eastern sky.
This morning as I walked to the station, we seemed to be directly below the edge of a change in the weather. To the east a duvet of mackerel sky:
Clearing away to leave blue skies in the west:
With an indistinct demarcation in between:
A friend at work tells me that in the last week of August the weather station at Lancaster University recorded a total of 25 minutes of sunshine. The only surprise there is that there was any at all. September has brought a succession of showery days with many more sunny intervals.
We’ve had rainbows almost every day. I haven’t had my camera to hand for the best and brightest of them but I did catch this one this afternoon:
(It is there if you look closely enough.)