LAND 05 Snow had fallen overnight, and I was ten minutes late for the start of the day. I headed west at daybreak, the sleeting snow together with the strong wind made any attempts at sketching almost impossible.
I walked across an open and gently undulating terrain, the snow and sleet settled in intersecting lines across the fields. Visibility was poor and all colour and contrast was obliterated by the stinging sleet.
By chance I stumbled across a wooden bus shelter with its back to the wind. I settled within, thankful for the cover. Here I waited for several long hours, as the snow turned to sleet and then driving rain. Quite suddenly the wind changed direction and the rain came in and soaked my gear – I had no choice but to pack up again and keep moving.
I walked onwards and turned into a farm track which took me past a small wood where I sheltered under my ‘tarp’ and cooked up some warm food. This was definitely off the beaten track and I felt far removed from everything. Eventually, the rain stopped and I packed up and walked onwards through the thick muddy slush.
With the clearer weather, deep browns, ochres and greens flooded back into the landscape. I walked along another small track past some old farms and through an old wood where some antique farm implements lay forgotten on the leafy mulch. Continuing past a wonderful old ash tree I crossed the Vasa stream in full spate and headed north again.
The edge of a field had been left uncultivated and suddenly there were yellowhammers, finches and sparrows feeding on the deadheads of thistles and other wildflowers. Overhead a white-tailed sea eagle soared majestically past and lifted my mood immeasurably. A chance conversation with an artist friend whose house I passed confirmed my faith in nature’s ability to rebound from our worst efforts to mess it up. I made some more quick sketches.
The day regrettably not to end on a high – the rain returned and I trudged damp and exhausted on to my destination as the light faded.
WEATHER REPORT – Snow, sleet and rain clearing for a few hours in the afternoon. Temperature between 1 and 4 degrees. Wind 8 m/s from the southwest and northwest. Hours of precipitation: 6 hours. Hours of sunshine: 0 hours.
STOPS with the BIVVY – 1
KILOMETRES WALKED – 12.95 km
DAY LASTED – 8h and 40 m
PEOPLE TALKED TO – 1
BIRDS SEEN and HEARD – 24 species: two new (robin, white-tailed sea eagle, running total = 45 species)
LESSONS LEARNED – Put your pencil THEN your sketchbook in your pocket, not the other way round.
IN MY HEAD – how fast trees grow and provide cover