Sunday, 28 February 2010

Two seasons in one day....a walk of contrasts

Sunday Feb.28th 2010.
               We've been on our annual walk up Littondale  in the Yorkshire Dales today and we hoped we'd timed it right to see the Snowdrops at their best around the river banks and the churchyard in the village of Arncliffe. The first section of the walk followed the River Skirfare up to to Arncliffe with it's Medieval Church surrounded by the church grounds overlooking the river, along the banks of the river there were several pairs of Ostercatchers.On arrival in Arncliffe the the Snowdrops were on show but perhaps lacking figure compared to previous years but never the less a welcoming sight on this cold late winters day.
        From Arncliffe the path climbs steeply out of Littondale and rapidly gains altitude and it wasn't long before we reached the snowline at 1900 ft on top of Old Cote High Moor. In less than one hour we'd  left early spring behind and we were back in the depths of winter. From this high point on the ridge there were excellent views across Upper Wharfedale to the summits of Buckden Pike and Great Whernside which hadn't lost their snowcover since 17th Dec.2009.We then walked along the ridge slowly losing height as we decended back into Littondale near to the village of Hawkswick.

The banks of the River Skirfare 

Arncliffe Church
Arncliffe Bridge

Ascending Old  Cote High Moor

Looking towards Great Whernside 

Great Whernside's mantle of snow


The final decent back down into Hawkswick in Littondale.


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Bob on time

Sat .Feb. 26th 2010. Yesterday was dire with morning rain turning to an afternoon of heavy wet snow. Looking through the window at the state of the garden my spirit was raised by the clumbsy landing of two Mallards on the pond and a shout from my wife "the ducks are back".There's nothing remarkable about two Mallards on a pond but looking back in my diary over the past few years their timing is uncannily accurate. This year they've come back on exactly the same date as last year and going further back in my diaries they're never been more than 4 days either side of this date .Whats the attraction? well it always coincides with the start of the frogs spawning in my pond so that's the next event to take place in our garden.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Just for the record

Thur. 25 Feb. 2010.
Yesterday the real thaw set in and we had the highest temp. 8c since the 17 th Dec. 2009. In the garden in a sheltered area facing south our first crocus is almost out it's only a week later than last year this is surprising considering how cold the winters been.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

My Cine Camera was a Time Machine

Tuesday 23rd Feb. 2010.
Looking at some of the Blogs posted in the last few days there is the anticipation and excitement that Spring can't be too far away, so nest boxes are being put up in many gardens, some of them are quite sophisticated with built in video cameras.Way back in 1974 I built a special nest box and stuck it on the children's back bedroom window the glass acted as the back of the box, a sheet of rubber had to be stuck on the inside of the window to keep the box dark inside.To my surprise the Blue Tits nested in the box and raised 8 young. In those days there were no video cameras but I had a cine camera (Canon 814 super 8) and filmed the whole story involving the children, I called the film Guest House . The quality of the film is poor because it was copied from Cine onto VHS tape and then transferred again onto DV tape and lastly onto a DVD disc, but at least I have a record from 36 years back.
I've uploaded some very short clips from the original 14 minute film.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Three short previews

Sunday 21 st Feb. 2010 Three experimental previews of my new Orchid video.

Northwest England our cold winter

Sunday 21st Feb 2010.

Snowdrops in Littondale March 1st last year (2009)

Another snowfall over night and this morning caused us to cancel our weekly Sunday walk, it just shows how our weather can change after yesterdays walk above the mist (see yesterdays blog). Today we were going to walk in Littondale to view the thousands of snowdrops that grow on the banks of the River Skirfare which flows through the beautiful village of Arncliffe. At the end of Feb and early in March the churchyard is covered with drifts of snowdrops which overspill onto the banks of the river and along the grass verges through the village, I can't remember a year when we had to cancel our snowdrop walk, so it got me thinking, so I've looked back through the years at the winter weather statistics in my diaries and cinefilm records in our area of Northwest England and compared them to this winter.
There are 3 snowy cold winters that stand out in my lifetime. The winter with the heaviest snowfalls on record was the winter of 1947.There's one stong memory of that year that sticks in my mind, it was the distance the sledges travelled from the top of the local Golfcoarse, they could sledge over the top of the wall at the bottom of the coarse because of the depth of the snow and carry on right down into the village, in those day it was just fields giving another 1/4 mile of good sledging (see this winters sledging photo to give you some idea)
In 1947 you could sledge over the wall( between the girl in the Blue coat and the trees) and straight down into the village along the side of the newer houses.
The winter of 1963 was also a long snowy winter it began snowing on New years day and the cold weather persisted until Mid- March. That winter an oil company was doing some oil exploration on the moors in our area and the the oilmen told me that it was the worst weather conditions that they had ever experienced saying was it worst than drilling in Alaska because of the damp cold.
In 1979 the snow started in early January and there was very little letup for 14 weeks, the strong easterly winds being the problem with the drifting snow filling in the roads, I've a good film record of that winter, it wasn't until early April that I found the first Spring flowers and they were Coldsfoot growing on a banking facing south.
And now for this winter 2009-2010 these are the statistics so far recorded in my diary.
First snowfall 17th Dec 2009 very cold weather until the 17th Jan 2010 with either laying snow and frosty or snowing days with a couple of days with a slight thaw, the coldest night being on the 7th Jan -12c on my garden thermometer, heaviest snowfall on Jan.5th around 9 inches of level snow.The weather came a little milder until the 4th Feb ( highest temp on the 28th Jan ...5c) but the snow never thawed away totally with either frozen ground and ice about and always a covering of snow on the surrounding Moors.
From the 4th Feb up to the 21st Feb (today) always cold with frosty nights and sunny days with various snow cover but not deeper than 11/2 inches at valley level.
So to sum up this winter so far
48 days of lying snow
-12c coldest night 5 c warmest day
9 inches heaviest snowfall
This winter has not had anywhere near the amount snow of the earlier winters I've recorded but it has been the coldest on that 1 night, we're not quite out of the woods yet, perhaps it seems to be a cold long winter because of all the mild ones we've had over recent years.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Above the Morning Mist

Sat. 20th Feb. 2010.
                     We had a good feeling this morning that the misty frosty morning with a slight covering of new snow was going to turn into fabulous day. Firstly we had two Song Thrushes on the lawn the first for several years, so I thought the early morning was going well.
    By 9-30 am we were at the bottom of Pendle Hill ready for the climb, we soon climbed above the sea of mist and were rewarded by some fine atmospheric views from the top which had 5 inches of new powdered snow.
  To catch these mornings we have to be off reasonably early before the sun burns off the low cloud and mist. By 11-30am the magical effects had all dissapeared, so we legged it down to the village of Barley for Beef broth and Dumplings after a superb mornings walk.
Across the Ribble Valley to the higher fells of  Pen-y-Ghent and Fountains Fell
Towards Ingleborough on the left

Above the mist covered Twiston Beck the small stream where the Salmon spawn in late Autumn

Ingleborough across the Ribble Valley

The summit 1831 ft

Looking S.E. across Pendleside to Bouldsworth hill on the horizon
The village of Barley lies under the mist in the middle distance

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Around Flasby Fell

Sun, 14th Feb.2010.
 Another light frost again this morning but with the sun climbing higher, the morning had a feeling of spring in the air. Todays walk of about  8 miles started and finished in Gargrave in West Yorkshire it's about 12 miles from our home. The walk follows the Leeds & Liverpool Canal for a couple of miles then turns N E.through the hamlet of Thorlby steadily climbing to reach the highest point of the walk at Sharp Haw 1171ft on Flasby Fell.. This opens up some fine views up into Upper Wharfedale with the dominant fells of Buckden Pike and Great Whernside still snow covered on the horizon. The walk returns along the northern side of Flasby Fell via Flasby Beck and Flasby Hall.
The welcoming Snowdrops in Thorlby

and the Winter Aconites

The top of Sharp Haw

Two new walkers joined us this morning ...Joanne & Russell

 Gargrave with Pendle Hill on the left

The snowy summit of Great Whernside