at the start of the Gill walk, looking back down
Summer heat sent us to explore the river that runs, sometimes hidden, down a cleft in the fell. Walkers tend to take the top route that only occasionally overlooks our watery path and this means that, once we leave the fell wall behind, Tilly and I usually have the stream all to ourselves.
We always visit the first tree, a sycamore, that bears the scars of dozens of names. People obviously walk as far as this on summer days and then carve its trunk, which seems quite cruel. We never see them though, so hope that the tree spends most of its days unscathed.
we reach the first tree
A lovely pool lies beneath the tree, dappled with sunlight. Tilly likes to wallow in it and I took her photo, only to see what looks like a second spaniel in the water. A trick of the light – but I’m not surprised because the whole of this place has a mysterious atmosphere. It would be quite in keeping to suddenly catch sight of a gnome peering through some ferns although, probably luckily for me, this hasn’t happened yet.
the pool under the tree – but is there one dog or two?
After saying farewell to the first tree we follow the river upstream.
leaving the first tree behind us we climb higher
And the second tree appears.
the second tree appears inside its rocky cleft
In keeping with the mysterious theme you may notice something in the entrance to the rocky cleft, which I fancifully imagine as an almost-grotto, with the tree forming a kind of roof. It’s a vague shape that resembles a seated figure with lots of hair.
the entrance to the ‘grotto’ with the second tree
As you get nearer you see the river itself has assembled wood and hay to create this sculpted form, a seated ‘river god’.
the river sculpted its own ‘god’ guarding the entrance to the ‘grotto’
a closer look at the grotto’s guardian
The river god seems quite benign so Tilly sunbathes, paddles and digs while I sketch.
here I sat and sketched
I try to capture the direction and energy of the various forms in the landscape.
first sketch of the ‘grotto’ in oil pastel, A6 sketchbook – trying to capture the movement
We scurry back down after a while when storm clouds begin to gather.
storm clouds gathering on the horizon – looking down the Gill
Returning to the same spot a few days later there has been a change.
the ‘grotto’ seems to have a new guardian
I couldn’t resist altering the river’s sculpture.
looking down into the ravine at the river god
Maybe the gods were not amused because, while we were there, some rather strange signs appeared in the sky.
a giant feather floats across the sky, accompanied by other peculiarly shaped clouds
more unusual clouds, this time resembling fried eggs, and their feathered friend
I sketched on regardless.
second sketch of the ‘grotto’, oil pastel in A6 sketchbook
Then we left, after one last look at the grotto daemon.
an odd figure sits in the entrance to the ‘grotto’
This time we climbed even higher up the fell.
looking up to Arant Haw, with more curious clouds
After reaching the summit we descended, with ominous skies appearing once more.
more storm clouds are gathering over the hills
The thunder and rain held off each time, allowing us to return home safely, but the next time we visited the second tree the river had removed my addition to its artwork.