After my early assault on the hills above Longsleddale a few weeks ago, I took B and one of his pals for an afternoon wander in Eaves Wood.
The boys were temporarily hunter-gatherers and were thoroughly absorbed in the various activities which that entailed, chiefly, as far as I could tell, climbing trees, throwing ‘spears’ and building dens. For once I’d remembered to tuck a small book into a pocket, so I was occupied too…
‘Mountain Essays’ (1928) edited by E.F.Bozman from the series ‘The King’s Treasuries of Literature’ general editor Sir A.T. Quiller Couch.
The striking thing about the afternoon was the contrast with the harsh, brilliant bleakness of my morning in the fells. Yes, it was still cold, but there was a little warmth in the weak winter sunshine, the snowdrops were resplendent along the village lanes and the woods were full of birdsong. Great tits and robins predominated. Every tree seemed to have a resident robin pugnaciously trilling from a prominent branch. We could also hear woodpeckers drumming in every quarter of the wood, and even managed to spy a few of them high in the treetops.
The snowdrops tripped a little switch: at the next opportunity, it’s time to get down to the woods by Haweswater to see whether the snowdrops there are flowering. So when one of our half-term days dawned bright and sunny, we all traipsed off for the Tour de Haweswater.
This is a favourite and oft repeated route of ours and we usually begin in Eaves Wood, but on this occasion we opted for a widdershins loop which took us first across the fields.
The boys diverted a little from the path to explore these two…
…well, are they ponds or puddles? I think they appeared when it began to rain last year and they’ve been there ever since. The one which you can just about see at the back of this photo is really quite large for a puddle.
As we wandered down Moss Lane a jay shot across overhead. Unusually, it landed in a scrubby hedge in a fairly visible position and than posed for photos for quite some time.
I know – these aren’t great jay photos, not even the best I’ve taken, but it was a real treat to have another opportunity to study such a colourful bird.
The most enthusiastic fan of A.A.Milne in our little band is S. When we entered the trees, he declared it to be Hundred Acre Wood, and was gleefully telling me that he could hear Owl. We lagged a little behind the others as he balanced on the beams bordering the path.
I couldn’t hear Owl, but we were treated to quite a close encounter with a marsh harrier, which flew off across the reeds fringing the lake.
Eventually, we reached the patch of woodland where, at this time of year, the snowdrops put on a great show. S was insistent that I should take his photo amongst the flowers.
Last year we came on a wet day. Nice this time to see the snowdrops with sunshine.
Part of the family tradition is that I take lots of photos whilst everyone else gets impatient.
Another part is that I try, and fail, to capture the unexpected patterns of green and yellow inside the coy blooms.
We finished through Eaves Wood, visiting the Ring O’Beeches.
Which means more tree climbing, or, well, more balancing, but with added height.
B was very nonchalant about the whole thing. TBH kept her eyes closed.
The woods were once again lively with birdsong. Sadly, I’m still only able to recognise a very limited number of species from their songs. Robins and great tits were still dominated, but now there were lots of chaffinches getting in on the act too.
What do you think – can we announce the arrival of spring?