Pearly dewdrops’ drops

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I haven’t been out as much as I would like of late: daylight has been in short supply, and one way or another I’ve been very busy. There have been a few short jaunts. One morning, when the fields were white with frost, I found that under the trees of Eaves Wood the temperature was a little higher, too warm for ice, and the wood was full of the music of falling drops.

Up to that point I’d been fair stomping along (by my own modest standards) but the drops encouraged me to loiter. I’ve photographed drops in Eaves Wood on several occasions before. Mostly I’ve been fascinated by the refracted images in the droplets, the apparent self-contained worlds, like one of those snow-globe paperweight things, but this time I found myself watching the droplets slowly gather and develop, growing from shallow curves into increasingly pendulous drops. This droplet…

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….is the same one as in the first photo, but it has begun to oscillate: bouncing and stretching under it’s own weight shortly before plopping down onto the leaf-litter below. Hence, I think, the additional distortion of the inverted trees in the droplet.

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Whilst I was absorbed in this way, I think that the sun must have risen – the hint of pink behind this droplet is a cloud tinted by morning sunshine.

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P.S. If you came this way looking for the Cocteau Twins, I hope that you weren’t too disappointed.

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Pearly dewdrops’ drops

A Game of Two Halves

Rydal Hall Gardens

Manicured lawns, crocket hoops , mist lifting from a forested hillside. Last days of the Raj? Well, no: a wet weekend in the Lake District. The formal gardens belong to Rydal Hall, which we had walked to from our temporary residence at the Traveller’s Rest just outside Grasmere. ‘We’ was a motley collection of old friends, getting together for what is becoming a fixture in our calendar – the Adults Only Weekend. Not as racy as it sounds, just that for this weekend we palm our kids off on grandparents, whereas our Christmas Youth Hostel Party, Spring Bank Holiday Camping Weekend and LLyn Peninsula Holiday ,which are all also annual traditions, are decidedly family affairs.

We’d left the Traveller’s Rest in rain and our route had taken us steeply up to a misty Alcock Tarn and along the corpse road from White Moss to Rydal. It was still raining when we reached Rydal Hall and thanks to my leaky coat I was thoroughly soaked. I was happy to repair to the cafe there, which has had a makeover since my last visit, for tea, cake and delicious soup.

Rydal Hall

When we came out of the cafe it was possible to imagine that the forecast afternoon improvement in the weather was finally beginning to materialise, and since visitors seem to be welcome to wander around, we did exactly that. Rydal Hall is a Christian retreat and conference centre, belonging to the diocese of Carlisle. The house is 19th Century and is listed, but it was the gardens which intrigued me. They were designed, in 1909, by Thomas Mawson who seems to have crept up on me over a long period of time and has lodged himself in my consciousness.

Rydal Hall

There’s a fine Georgian building almost across the road from where I work which has a small green plaque alerting the passing pedestrian that the building once housed the offices of Thomas Mawson. Mawson also designed other lake District gardens which we’ve visited in the past: Holehird, Brockholes and Holker Hall. The garden at Hazelwood Hall in Silverdale is another of his designs.

Rydal beck, very full of water on this occasion…

Rydal Beck

…races through the grounds of the hall and past the formal gardens to…

Lower falls and the Grot 

…the Lower Falls which have apparently been the subject of paintings by both John Constable and Joseph Wright of Derby. The little stone building is ‘The Grot’ built in 1694 and one of the viewing stations built to provide a frame around a picturesque view for tourists when visiting this area was becoming fashionable.

The Shandy Sherpa and GM had already abandoned us long before to sample the delights of scrambling in a beck in spate, now TBH and JS formed another splinter group taking on the tat shops of Grasmere. After carefully explaining the route to them, I watched them head off in the direction of Ambleside before reluctantly handing them my map.

This left The Adopted Yorkshire Man in charge of the navigation and, true to form, he found the steepest hillside he could to drag us up. I suppose I should just be grateful that there was almost a hint of a path through the shoulder-high dripping-wet bracken.

At least things were at last genuinely beginning to brighten up…

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An apparent clump of white flowers on the slope ahead…

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…turned out to be grass thoroughly decorated with water-droplets.

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Any excuse now to stop for a photograph was gratefully received, I think that these colourful seeds belong to a rush, but further than that I couldn’t speculate.

An old bomber thundered overhead and soon after we had reached a small top with expansive views.

Nab Scar and Heron Pike 

Nab Scar and Heron Pike.

Lanty Scar Tea Break 

Tea and butties on Lanty Scar.

From Lanty Scar it was a surprisingly long walk to the top of Loughrigg, although I suppose we didn’t take the most direct route. Loughrigg is a relatively small hill, not even as high as Alcock tarn where we had been earlier.

From the top…

Loughrigg Summit 

..most of the party made a fairly hasty retreat, but the AYM and I lingered, despite the chilly breeze, to play name that peak and to watch the play of light across the hills and valleys.

Langdale from Loughrigg 

Langdale.

Lingmoor from Loughrigg 

Lingmoor.

Grasmere

Grasmere.

We doubled back down Loughrigg terrace so that we could pick-up the lake-shore path. I was surprised to see that the yellow saxifrage which TBH and I saw earlier in the year, was still flowering. From there it was an easy stroll, in the last of the light, back to the pub.

A Game of Two Halves

Treats In Store

“I’m going into the village to get a paper.” “Hang on Granddad – I’ll come with you.” And that’s how the boys were booted, suited, helmeted and on their bikes quicker than you can say ‘a trip to the sweetshop’. Meanwhile their sister, who had other plans, had presented her requirements in writing.

Sunday’s walk featured something of a false start – I set off heading into the village intending to meet up with the in-laws and the boys, just in case they needed a house key and then perhaps to head in the direction of Woodwell. But when I did meet them the boys both decided to come with me. Fine. All well and good. Two hundred yards along the way however S realised that his bag of goodies had headed homeward with his grandparents and had an abrupt change of heart. We took him home. “Fancy a walk to the Pepper Pot?” I asked his brother. To be honest, I expected that the lure of sugar coated e-numbers would be too great, but I was wrong and so it was that B and I set off on a foray into Eaves Wood.

Before I get to Eaves Wood however, one digression. Many recent walks have been late afternoon and have been accompanied by Starlings and their burbling calls. I assumed that this was because they were gathering for the mass roost at Leighton Moss. But on Sunday morning the trees in the village were full of them again. In fact there was generally a great deal of birds and bird-song. B and I spotted a goldcrest in a tree above us. We didn’t get a very good photo, but we did catch this female blackbird…

B was quite taken with this oil slick rainbow he found in the road, and was keen for me to photograph it…

Once into the wood he took charge of our route finding. We lingered on occasion when suitable trees presented themselves…

He particularly liked this beech, which I suppose must once have been coppiced although not for quite some time. The branches were wet and must have been slippery, but B didn’t mind, and I liked the way the water had run on the bark and made patterns…

And no, we didn’t draw them on despite TBH’s suspicions to the contrary when she saw these photos.

And if I had to wait for B to climb trees, and to hump logs about to make stepping stones across muddy stretches of footpath, then he had to humour me whilst I pursued my latest obsession: photographing trees through raindrops…

 

Here’s the cropped version…

The view from the Pepper Pot was not what it can be…

…with the Bowland hills, beyond Warton Crag, wreathed in clouds.

This hazel still has a few of last year’s leaves alongside this year’s catkins which are filling out and turning yellow with the approach of spring…

Meanwhile the beech leaves which still cling on have turned a paler more delicate brown, reversing in their senescence the change from pale to darker green which will happen again soon in the first few days after the new leaves appear in not too many weeks now.

On and around the pair of fallen beeches which we often visit there was, as usual, plenty of fungal interest…

 

Around those beeches there are many other large fallen trees, I’m not sure whether there are more than there were or whether it’s just more obvious in a leafless winter woodland.

The combined effect of orange beech leaves and silvery dew-drops was quite decorative, but difficult to capture successfully…

These elephant-toed beech roots, mottled with lichens and moss have appeared here before…

..but then if I will keep on repeating the same old walks. Then again, if you go down to the woods today…

…you might be in for a surprise…

…if you look hard enough.

 

As we dropped down out of the woods, the sun briefly came out and made the drop bejewelled hedgerow twinkle…

I can see that this is going to slow my walks down even further!

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In the afternoon we were out again, this time a family walk to the Wolfhouse Gallery via Woodwell.  The gallery was closed, but we had a pleasant walk despite a damp and grey afternoon.

Ivy berries.

Treats In Store

Trees – fallen; in fog; in dew drops.

At times yesterday it seemed that the fog might lift, but it clung on through the day.  Out on an errand, I took a detour (which turned out to be a long one) through Eaves Wood.

In the damp, the trees that edged the field path into the wood were pearled with drops.

The light wasn’t great, and this is a little blurred – but, what’s that in the drop – a world in miniature?

 

There it is – a couple of inverted trees seen through the lens of the water droplet.

Hmmm – I think I feel another obsessive search coming on…..

In the woods…

…a half dozen doves in the uppermost branches departed in a clatter of wings, showering me with drops. The line of this shattered, polyp-encrusted fallen birch trunk…

…led me to a four storey spider web in its stump…

The tree had led me to the path to the ring o’beeches and so I decided to head that way. Beyond the ring, a well trodden path in an unexpected place tempted me even further off course for my errand. The path took me to another fallen tree – or at least partly fallen. A huge beech coppice stool still supported four tall trunks, but on one side two had collapsed, leaving a hole like a toothless gap in a gum.

 

I carried on into the woods, despite the fact that the ‘new’ path I had found had fairly clearly petered out. Pretty soon I was,  if not lost then, at least a little unsure of my exact whereabouts. After some ducking and weaving as the trees closed in around me, I came to a clearing with a few larches dotted about. That clearing led to another – in fact to several, like a small archipelago of islands in an ocean of trees – and eventually back to a path, from where it was an easy, but quite dark, walk back to the village and the real business of the walk.

Trees – fallen; in fog; in dew drops.