Annual Snowdrop Pilgrimage

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.

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…

Chillin' in the woods

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.

A walk across the fields

The boys diverted a little from the path to explore these two…

The new ponds 

…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.

A jay? 

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.

A jay! 

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.

In Hundred Acre Wood 

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.

Scots Pines 

Scots Pines.



Look Dad - Snowdrops 

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.

Snowdrops V 

Last year we came on a wet day. Nice this time to see the snowdrops with sunshine.

Snowdrops IV 

Snowdrops II 

Part of the family tradition is that I take lots of photos whilst everyone else gets impatient.

Snowdrops I 

Another part is that I try, and fail, to capture the unexpected patterns of green and yellow inside the coy blooms.

Silver Birch 

We finished through Eaves Wood, visiting the Ring O’Beeches.

Ring O'Beeches 

Which means more tree climbing, or, well, more balancing, but with added height.

Mr Nonchalant

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?

Annual Snowdrop Pilgrimage

13 thoughts on “Annual Snowdrop Pilgrimage

  1. Can we announce the arrival of spring? mmm depends on what you call spring. Last year at the end of March I thought it had finally arrived, but in early April we had a big dump of snow which buried 25 lambs and their mothers on the farm next door. All the lambs died. A snowy spring I suppose.

    I like the comment that part of the family tradition is that I take lots of photos whilst everyone else gets impatient. A very popular and worthwhile tradition don’t you think.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I know, I’m being overly optimistic about spring (although it was sunny and even quite warm in Lancaster today) – I think the returning light in the mornings and evenings has made me a bit giddy.
      I realise now that ‘I take lots of photos whilst everyone else gets impatient’ is a bit of a family tradition every time we’re out and about. There was a period, many years ago, when I pretty much stopped carrying a camera when I was out walking, but now I can’t imagine going without. Simply put: taking photos makes me happy.

  2. Saw loads of snowdrops myself in Norfolk last week but didn’t think I’d manage any good photos of them, so didn’t bother!

    Personally, I really like this ‘beginning-of-spring’ time of year. Always feels kind of special somehow.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes – early spring is easily my favourite time of year. There are so many things to look forward too: snowdrops, daffs, the fist chiff-chaffs and swallows, beech leaves etc etc.

      I’m never sure that I’ll manage any good photos. I think snowdrops are quite hard to do justice to, but I shall keep trying – it’s the trying which I enjoy.

  3. I’ve seen a few snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses but I think for me spring is really here when I see my favourite – the cherry blossom. But we never know…we could have another dip into rain, cold, gloom and snow for another month or two.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Of course you’re right, and I’m just getting over excited. The wild daffs are not out here yet, I don’t think. Cherry blossom is great. I think my favourite, however, is new beech leaves just after they’ve emerged from their buds and they are limp, translucent and pale.

    2. beatingthebounds says:

      James – I’ve been trying to comment on your post about Moel Siabod – I was enjoying your stunning photos, but I can’t seem to get the comment verification to work. Any suggestions?

  4. I was out in the Welsh hills yesterday, it was very spring-like in the valley, snowdrops out in force but still winter on the tops, all the bogs were frozen solid.

    I love this time of year when the sun makes an appearance, just a hint of warmth, lots of colour, clear air, birdsong etc. I need to convince L of that being outside is a better bet than endless Scooby Doo

  5. beatingthebounds says:

    From now till June really it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

    Our kids like Scooby Doo too, but once you’ve dragged them out they generally don’t want to come in again.

  6. I know that Jay! Or one of its rellies. I got seriously strafed going into Trowbarrow from Moss Lane. I must have been a bit too close to its nest building. As coincidinc would have it, I came across one of your photies of Gibraltar Farm – looks like it was shot from Lindeth Tower. Nice image in foul weather. Can you say when it was taken?

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Hi Tim,
      I had another close encounter with a jay, well a much closer encounter, at Trowbarrow last year. Maybe it was the same jay again:
      I’ve only been up Lindeth Tower once back in 2011 when some buildings were opened as part of the bicentenary celebrations. Here’s a post about that day:
      Is it the photo looking over the campsite to Arnside Knott you were looking at?

  7. Your meeting sounds much more benign than mine – I thought I’d strayed into a scene from The Birds. That horse chestnut by the gate is one of my favourites too, although I’m never there that early. And yes, it was that photo – the early camper catching the drizzle.

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