Water, water everywhere

P1020042 After the snow and freezing conditions over Christmas came the rain last week, with the River Derwent dangerously near to overflowing its banks again in Keswick. The fells have been water logged and the marshes more flooded than is usual for this time of year – though not as bad as in the devastation in November 2009. The photo opposite is the sight I was confronted with last Sunday, as I emerged from the underpass beneath the A66 below the Powter How woodland. Bassenthwaite had risen some four feet above normal and made the footpath beyond the gate unusable. It’s just a mile from The Larches.

But there’s one upside to all this. Water provides a great opportunity for viewing and photographing landscape and nature with fresh eyes!. The sight of that tree  (see photo left below) surrounded and reflected in the water with Ullock Pike beyond was magical in the dusk.

On Monday I walked over the fields from the A591 to the Castlerigg Stone Circle above Keswick. Constructed over 4500 years ago and with amazing views of the surrounding mountains, it has a spell-like quality, evident in the photo (below right) of two of the stones reflected in surface water, with distant trees and fells beyond. 

Though the trees are bare in winter now, no wonder they and these ancient Lakeland mountains remind me of the words of John Dryden’s ’O Solitude’, written in 1691 for Purcell and sung this week by counter-tenor Andreas Scholl in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall:

O Heav’ns! What content is mine
To see these trees, which have appear’d
From the nativity of time,
And which all ages have rever’d,
To look today as fresh and green
As when their beauties first were seen. 
O how agreeable a sight
These hanging mountains do appear

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Jack Frost on the retreat

P1010990 The weather has got much warmer over the last three days. No longer do we slither on the road outside The Larches and try to keep our balance on an iced up incline. We just walk! All the snow has gone and for a few days we have welcomed the sight of rain. No matter that the ‘yak-trak’ ice treads we ordered online have now had to be stored away without being used.

The pictures here though are a reminder of just how cold it was over Christmas, with temperatures down to minus 10° C and the gas boiler on all night. On the right is a view of Comb Beck, just beyond The Larches, with the rocks crusted with ice. Below is an early morning view from the boot room of the raised vegetable bed, seen through Jack Frost’s daring designs on the window; and on the right a view of the house and belvedere squaring up to snow-capped Skiddaw on Christmas Eve morning.

POSTSCRIPT – January 5th, 2011
The Met Office has confirmed to day that this last December has been the coldest since records were introduced 100 years ago. The average temperature for the month was minus 1° C, which was 5° C colder than the average December.

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