A very strange few days with storm force winds heavy rain and airport journeys . I was saddened to see a row of old hawthorn trees downed near us! Home to Blackbirds ,wrens and a stopping off place for little owls in the evening and a winter feeding station for redwings and fieldfares They were no danger to anyone Seems so pointless. An brief encounter with a badger nosing around on the road one evening was a highlight !! He soon galloped off into the cemetery !
Listening : Toby Hay “The Gathering”
Reading and finishing “The Outrun” by Amy Liptrot (read it please). February doesn’t know what to do ! Fog ,wind ,rain ,spring sunshine… Fortunately nature does know what to do! The first signs of spring. Early on Sunday I was woken by a blackbird singing! First time this year! A walk down town via the rookery and sure enough the gang were chasing and mewing,pairing off and generally busying themselves in the tree tops. By the river the Mallards are very active. Havnt seen a goldfinch in the garden this year until yesterday .One called in for a chat as I was cutting back the sage bush. Last night around 11-30 pm as I was reading in bed (H is for Hawk) I heard Tawny Owls . It’s been a while. So things may be on the turn ,there are even crocuses and snowdrops showing off.
Listening: The Magnetic North “Orkney Symphony”
Weather Warning for the Peak District. Up to 15cm of snow expected over night.Buxton Weather Watch was on high alert.Rumours of panic buying in the supermarkets. Sunday morning and there is nothing. Just after breakfast a few flakes of sleety snow come in on the easterly wind whipping in from Beeley Moor and beyond. We soon have a “blizzard” but it’s nothing too serious. Putting our best gear we head on out towards the mast near Sheldon. The walk is slightly upward and the sleet is settling as snow higher up. Someone has disgarded the contents of their kitchen bin at the top of Crow Hill Lane and we wonder why.After a mile or so we encounter a pheasant with no tail! He is unable to fly and scurrys frantically in the hedge side in confusion. I suspect he could be supper for Mr Fox later.At the mast it is a white out but nothing too serious. Exhilarating stuff as we turn into the wind and sleety snow. Half a dozen Rooks swirl and battle the wind.Facing North East towards the Yorkshire border everything is encased in grey the wind in our faces.Back home I put a couple of logs on the stove and settle down with my birthday book from Liz. “Outrun” by Amy Liptrot. I highly recommend this fantastic memoir of the authors life transforming encounter with nature .Brave ,lyrical and astonishing. Read this book!
Listening : “Colourless Fields” Piblokto
St Brigid’s celebration has brought winter to the Peaks . A week of cold a bleak weather cumulating in days of not snow.Icy rain that acts like snow but doesn’t actually do anything.But it is cold. Some walking with heads down rugged up in warm gear but not much to see.Nature never lets you down .One day we spend ten minutes watching a Barn Owl on the hunt in the late afternoon ,another day a Green Woodpecker flits in and out of the trees in Chee Dale! Down by the canal there is a dead pike on the towpath !How did it get there ?. Leaden skies and sleet give no light on the 11th. The bird feeders in the garden are quite .Still the stove is warm ,my birthday book “Outrun” by Amy Liptrot is inspiring as are two new l/ps from Piblokto.
Listening : Piblokto ” imperfection” , “Colourless Fields”
After celebrating St Brigid’s Day and the returning light on the 2nd Billy Bye joined me for a wander to Robin Hood’s Stride and the Nine Ladies Close. The conditions are quiet and fairly lifeless only the cry of two circling buzzards bring any excitement.We are slightly upset by some “new age ” ephemera hanging from one of the trees on the Stride. It seems so pointless ! Nine Ladies Close has only the four magical standing stones that sit proudly looking out over the White Peak.Still a fantastic experience to be among them.
Listening : a year in the country “the Forest”
A bleak and bitter end in late January. After dank foggy and cold days comes the bitter cold. But with a good warm coat the cold brings her own delights and we spend a great afternoon in Bradford Dale. We are greeted at the dale head by a flock of Goldfinches with the odd Greenfinch mixed in for good measure. Down the dale the river level is surprisingly and worryingly low . Coots ,moorhens and Mallards are around as usual along with one or two “dabchicks” who seem very happy. I wonder about herons having seen four near the A6 earlier in the week. Sure enough we come across a beauty near the village. Turning for the return walk back to Middleton we are entertained by a pair of dippers who are completely unaware of our presence. The crowning moment of the walk is yet to happen. There is movement in the undergrowth at the river’s edge .At first we agree that this is a wren. To our delight this turns out to be a Goldcrest. He is foraging on old thistle heads and dead grass really close to us.My attempts at a photograph come to nothing but a delightful moment. Back home tea and oar biscuits warm us up !
Listening : Sonicbrat “murmerations”
Five days ant not a sign of the sun! Picnic packed today we decide to walk around the Derwent and Bowden Reservoirs. Yes it is grey and dull but there are herons by the waterside and squirrels looking for food! We meet others who seemed like us undeterred by the encompassing gloom. From nowhere an R.A.F. Hercules swoops over the waters taking everyone by surprise. He soon disappears and the thick silence returns . Later we explore “Slippery Stones” . A Brilliant day out.
Listening :William Basinki ” Disintegration Tapes”.
The Peak District is still becalmed under damp low cloud and a clinging mist .The effect is of a Ghost World . Out on the Monsal Trail walking through the re claimed tunnels is surreal .Outside the light is eerie and strange .With a little imagination you can catch the echoes of the old rail men and tunnellers calling to each other.Quite a special experience to wander in this otherworldly atmosphere.
Listening : The Stone Tapes
The Peaks are shrouded in low cloud and mists . Visibility is very poor and there is not much daylight. Yet even in these murky conditions it’s worth getting the right gear on and experiencing the conditions! We head west and take the Hurdlow trail that takes in part of another bridleway. Everywhere is still.Only an occasional croak from a hidden crow or room breaks the silence. It’s pretty cool and mysterious.The landscape is very early Dr Who or if a “Hammer” movie had been filmed in the Peak District . Back home the stove gives a welcoming glow along with tea and I am inclineded to listen to Steve Roach “structures from silence”
Listening : Steve Roach “structures from silence”
Peakland journal in Yorkshire! After a week of horrendous gales ,rain and snow we sojourned in Yorkshire walking along the canal at Saltaire.The day was still and fresh with some warmish sunshine. We met at lovely couple of birdwatchers who pointed out a kingfisher preening himself on a barge on the opposite bank. My phone camera could not get a decent picture. An added bonus and a surprise was to catch another pair of kingfisher s further along ! Three in one day . Result!
Listening : “The Delaware Road”