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.
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.
After saying farewell to the first tree we follow the river upstream.
And the second tree appears.
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.
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 god seems quite benign so Tilly sunbathes, paddles and digs while I sketch.
I try to capture the direction and energy of the various forms in the landscape.
We scurry back down after a while when storm clouds begin to gather.
Returning to the same spot a few days later there has been a change.
I couldn’t resist altering the river’s sculpture.
Maybe the gods were not amused because, while we were there, some rather strange signs appeared in the sky.
I sketched on regardless.
Then we left, after one last look at the grotto daemon.
This time we climbed even higher up the fell.
After reaching the summit we descended, with ominous skies appearing once more.
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.