One night I decided, just as the light was disappearing, to hasten up the fell, 1,955 feet of steep climbing right up to the summit of Winder. A lung-opening, blood-stirring, bone-strengthening lunge of an effort, guaranteed to leave you feeling at first terrible and then, as your body begins to recover, elated while surrounded by sweeping views up in the clouds.
Going up the hill at night is even more exhilarating than a daytime jaunt because you are racing against the dark and know that you will probably have the summit and the ridge all to yourself to scream or dance or quickly scrawl a sketch.
On this particular evening the sky was full of threatening clouds but, as I stepped across the windy ridge that links Winder and Arant Haw, with views west over the Lake District mountains, there was a single band of red sunset colour streaked across the grey. The strong dark shapes of the clouds and the dash of colour seemed to vibrate above the steep plummeting hill slopes that run away from the ridge to right and left and the scene painted itself in my mind’s eye, making me promise to return.
This afternoon I dodged rain storms and braved an icy wind to take photos, subsequently joined together, of that view. The forecast promised worse this evening so no return trip was made and no sunset recorded. Following my original night-time foray I had created a watercolour from memory to test my first impression of the night-time experience, to see if I could capture the feel of that moment on the ridge. During today’s afternoon visit I quickly made a pencil sketch before my hands went numb.
The sun was trying to break through as I approached the summit of Winder, creating some interesting patterns of light and dark.
Over in Dentdale the village of Dent was bathed in sunshine while I was donning a rain jacket on my journey across the heights.
Proving that, once again, my trying to carry out any art-related activities on the hill activates some kind of spoilsport alarm, a team of film-makers arrived just as I was reaching the spot where I wanted to stop and sketch. They, naturally, chose the same area I was interested in to set up their tripods and proceeded to record a local guide and her party of walkers treading the path to Winder.
Resigned to my fate I skirted around them and assumed they would be there all afternoon but – no – in a matter of moments they were gone! My sketchbook was released from its bag and I managed to get down the basics of the scene I have in mind to paint before succumbing to hypothermia in the biting wind. Who knows what will happen when I return with my paints – maybe a parade of unicyclists or a troupe of accordion players will march over the horizon … but it will make for an interesting blog post nonetheless.
I have two rules in life – to hell with it, whatever it is, and get your work done.
― Ray Bradbury