W3C A Lakeland Sunrise MEMORIES


I stood outside our house in the darkness. It was a clear cold night, hundreds of stars were out and a half moon shone overhead. No doubt there would be a frost on the high fell but here in the village the temperature was just above freezing.

Soon Jack's old Land Rover appeared and I climbed into the front. He crashed it into first gear and we set off for Grasmere, along the darkened roads running beside the two lakes of Rydal and Grasmere itself.

A few hours before we were drinking in The Rule when somebody said there was a fox worrying lambs at one of the farms beneath Helm Crag at Grasmere and the hounds would be out first thing. Too late to ring Mr Bruce (the MFH) for a start time, we decided to go early and sit on the borran just under the top. Before long we were parking up and got out of the vehicle into the darkness. Over the Rydal Fells, a faint lightening of the sky showed.

Up the road we walked, no one spoke, only the clicking of our sticks on the tarmac, and the sound of our breathing. Leaving the road we climbed onto the fell through the intake gate ('intake' is the boundary between cultivated or grazing land and the fell proper). The light was coming up now and you could see down into the bottom of the valley. An occasional car drove over the pass below us. The darkened bulk of the Rydal Fells behind us and Steel Fell to the right loomed in the darkness, as the sky above lightened.

As we made height the ground changed to frozen as we reached the frost level and our boots crunched on the hard ground. At the borran there were two local lads sat.

"Been up here long?"

"No, about half an hour."

One of them had a flask, one cup between four but hot coffee. The sky was lightening very quickly now. The palette of colours that is the dawn was well represented, and the detail on the fell across the valley was becoming more visible. By now we were scanning the fell and fields below with our binoculars, looking for any sign of a fox. The light was good now, the sky a shade of red, you could pick out detail in the valley floor. "What's that?" somebody said and described the position of a depression in the fields below.

"Looks like an old cock fighting pit," somebody else said after we had all had a look.

"Didn't know that was there, bet its a few years since that was used."

So next time you're on Helm Crag, Dear Reader, see if you can spot it in the fields below! Of course, having the right lighting condition is a help.

Suddenly the sun exploded up over the Western Fells, a golden ball in the blue sky. Sunlight began to move down the fellside towards the valley below. It began to get warmer.

A Land Rover made its way along the farm track 1000 feet below, you could faintly hear the trailer bouncing. It stopped in the farmyard, the occupants got out and went into a huddle with the farmer.

"No rum and coffee for them," somebody said.

"No," said Jack, "and no breakfast after if they don't get the bugger."

The figures went to the back of the trailer and dropped the ramp. A host of white appeared and the gate to the lambing field was thrown open. Hounds spread out white against the green of the field, an odd bark and then a wave of music as they struck the line - a Lakeland morning had begun.

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