In Autumn, the tide of bracken on the fells recedes, revealing a scattered Atlantis of forgotten walls, enclosures, and tumbledown buildings from long ago. Over there is a wall built by a landowner to protect his investment in Larch, never realised; here the remains of a small hut, perhaps for a shepherd, caught out at nightfall. In Summer, when the holidaymakers arrive in numbers, and the bracken grows tall, these modest ruins are submerged again. Only the sheep and deer venture into the green shallows. (The bracken is unpleasant against human skin, and besides, is infested with ticks.) I imagine the men who built these walls sleeping out on the fells; their backs stooped, hands toughened by the coarse stones that declare someone else’s ownership. Now these old structures have become sunken reefs, soft with moss, daubed with lichen; alive with birds, insects, delicate lizards. Returning from the stand of pines where I have been taking photographs, I follow a track from a badger sett to where it joins the path that is on the map. The track is strewn with hidden stones from ancient boundary lines. I stumble down the slope to the surface of the world.
When you get up early enough on a summer morning to see the sun sideways through the trees, and the mist still rising from the river, it feels for the rest of the day as if you have been let in on a secret. This is the river Rothay from the stepping stones, at about 6.30am.
This winter has been one of the longest, and most miserable I can remember. What has been especially strange is the way the wintry weather continued even when the light was clearly indicating Spring. This was taken in March at Fox How, near Ambleside, in the Lake District.
This is just for fun, but one of these images was taken with a Sigma SD Quattro H digital camera, and the other with a Yashica MAT 124G, using Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 ASA film. The slight variations in angle of view are to do with the way the different cameras sit on the tripod, and I think the light changed a little between taking the pictures. I used the digital camera to expose for the silvery fallen log in both cases. They are obviously quite different, but then they have different lenses, different, and differently sized imaging sensors, and were built almost 40 years apart. I'm having a hard time deciding which one I prefer: the one contrasty and hard, the other velvety and soft. They were taken in Rydal Woods, in the Lake District, early one morning. Click to see them larger.
I have an ongoing fascination with the short section of the River Rothay near Rydal in the English Lake District, and spend quite a lot of time wandering through the surrounding trees and woodlands. These birches seem to step into the background during summer, when their weeping branches are an obscuring veil, but in winter their bright bark is set off against the russet leaves of beech saplings.