Monday 12 March 2018

The time of the singing of birds......

What a difference a day makes, or even a couple of hours.  Last Thursday I woke to a winter wonderland, a study in black and white that had me reaching for my camera to grab the scene before it faded away.
From my window, Thursday's winter wonderland   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Amazingly, by lunchtime, the fields were green again.  In the space of a few hours winter had turned to Spring.  Birds were singing and being friendly to each other, crocuses opened wide to the sun and snowdrops were waving their little white heads in the breeze.
Where's my breakfast?
I could feel the change in the air and in my bones as I strolled down to the village.  It brought to mind a short poem I wrote many years ago.

The world sleeps
Deep in winter hills .
Vernal youth
Folds back her blanket.
Earth pants, and
Ah love, Spring has come.

For various reasons - a heavy cold, hospital appointments, being snowbound -  I hadn't run for almost two weeks.  And if I had managed to run I couldn't have posted anything to my Blog because I'd no Broadband or Internet connection.  After spending hours on the phone to Call Centres in South Africa and the Philippines it took 13 days for an engineer to arrive and sort things out.  Thanks Neil.
Crossing Hebden beck
Come weekend I was desperate to don some running gear and get out into the hills.  My wonderful partner is shortly to be leading a U3A walking group over a 10 mile circuit from Hebden and was a little unsure of a section over Bycliffe Hill.  It's a section I run regularly so was able to direct her. 
Running towards Grassington Moor
It was a balmy day and for the first time in many months, in England, I was wearing shorts.  It felt good.  As we set off up the ghyll curlews were calling and lapwings were wheeling in the air.  Golden plovers had returned to their haunts and kept up a constant piping over Grassington moor. Wild geese arrowed across the sky and a lone skylark sang his song.
Dollops of frogspawn
We soon reached the turn-off point for the trek over Bycliffe Hill.  There was a broadening of the track I always refer to as Casino Royale because that's where the opening scene of that 1967 film was shot.
At the turn-off point for Bycliffe at 'Casino Royale'
There is no path over Bycliffe Hill.  I've always followed a faint 'sheep trod' for ½ mile or so to a huge sink hole frequented by rabbits.  But we saw not a single sheep and their tracks had almost disappeared.  My wonderful partner had brought short pieces of ribbon and tied them round tufts of grass to mark the way across.
By the Bycliffe sink hole
From the sink hole the route is a little clearer across the top of the hill to where it drops down to a small marker cairn I put there many years ago.
Arriving at my wee marker cairn
We'd encountered snow across the hill, but nothing compared to that we had to cope with farther down. And it was unavoidable.
Then down a snow covered Mossdale track
We'd a foretaste of it as we ran down the Mossdale track but it was OK if we kept to the side.  Our path down the Long Wall was a different matter.
Will it hold me?
Fortunately the snow was fairly compacted and bore our weight as we trekked across.  Just as well, for lower down it must have been 5ft deep and level with the wall top.  Our path followed that wall with big cornices blocking any escape to our left.
I think we'll give that way a miss...
We blazed a way down, rather enjoying ourselves in the unusual conditions.  Occasionally we hit a soft patch and sank down a foot or so, but it was all good fun.
This is fun
After dropping around 400ft we were back into some greenery again, following the babbling beck down the ghyll and out of the wind where it felt 10ยบ warmer. 
Back into the ghyll
A cacophony of bleating sheep filled the air as hungry lambing ewes teemed down the hillside, crossed the beck and made their way at great speed to where a shepherd was calling them and scattering hay for them to feed upon.
Feeding time
Understandably, it had been a slower run than usual and extra activity resulted in some minor aches for us both later in the day, but we'd appreciated the change and added interest.  We'd climbed a total of 945ft - to the 1,500ft contour - and run 8.43 miles.  
A good day's work.