Tuesday 30th October 2012, 12.55pm (day 432)
Tattoo, stage 2. It’s still not finished. It’ll be worth the pain, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Flew over to Moscow again today, where I’m working all week. My intention was to post a totally gratuitous photo of Germany, where I changed planes, purely to get an 8th country onto this blog. But though I got some decent shots of Frankfurt today, where it was a lovely sunny day, this shot of the Pennine hills just outside Manchester as we took off this morning has to be the winner. Germany can wait. I’ll be passing back through on Friday so we’ll see if an equally gratuitous shot makes it then. Meantime, the mist.
Was almost obliged to go on a walk today, if I still intended to finish my project by the time I go away next year (in case you weren’t aware of this one, see my other ‘214 Wainwrights’ blog). It was tougher than expected today, partly because the forecast let me down – promising decent weather after noon, this was the reality; the last blue sky I saw all day.
I went on a walk today – the fifth-to-last one in my project to walk all the 214 ‘Wainwright’ fells in the English Lake District – and you can read about that on my other blog, and see many photos that are a lot better quality than this shoddy, out-of-focus shot. (Give me a couple of hours and I’ll have them up later today.) So why is this crappy picture the ‘Photo of the Day’, then?
Because this is a golden eagle goddammit. There are two – two – golden eagles in the whole of England. Scotland has quite a few – at least, if farmers and landowners can be exhorted to stop poisoning them (a disgusting example of environmental carnage, which the RSPB have long been campaigning against) – but England has just one breeding pair, who reside in Riggindale. This is a valley at the southern end of the reservoir of Haweswater, in the east of the district.
I was within a mile of that valley today, above the deep and remote coombe of Threshthwaite Cove, near the summit of Caudale Moor (fell #205). I saw this large bird fly through the cove and swoop up onto a promontory. I didn’t think, at first, what it might be, but I’d seen where it landed and saw that the rocky promontory was being touched very well by the sunlight, so I stopped for a few minutes to see if I could capture it. The more I took of it the more I thought, hang on, this is far too big to be a hawk or even a falcon. This picture above was my best effort, as it really was quite a way away and even at maximum (70x) zoom this is as good as it got. But I got enough other pictures, including of its face, to be very sure that what I saw and photographed here is, indeed, quite literally, the rarest bird in England.
I once knew someone who was completely inept at golf, a total novice, but who once flukily hit a hole-in-one, witnessed by many people. Seve Ballesteros went his whole career without hitting one. I feel like I may have done the birdwatching equivalent here. Sorry to anyone who has been twitching for decades and never got one like this, then. But now, at least, you know roughly where to find it.
Along similar lines to yesterday, in some ways, but still the only really decent photo I took today in an otherwise rather mundane day for pictures. It’s a classic view, and not hard to capture – just head up the A6033 from Hebden Bridge to Pecket Well, towards Haworth, and there it is. The church is in Heptonstall, a village above Hebden Bridge (Sylvia Plath is buried in the churchyard) and there has been a monument on Stoodley Pike for two hundred years. This is the second structure; the first collapsed in 1854. It was originally built to commemorate the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.
Taken on the 54th walk of my project to climb all the mountains in the English Lake District. Is it any wonder that it was this which got me fully into photography in the first place. It’s a subject that just gives & gives.
Incidentally, the snow-covered peak second right is Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. The dome to far right is Great Gable. Between where the walker (and photographer) stand and the slope behind is a steep valley holding the motor road of Honister Pass.
Run a line of pylons through the Lake District and there would rightly be outrage, but though there will be purists who will not even concede this point, the moors to the south of Hebden Bridge are so bleak that at least these metal monsters make the landscape more interesting. I have no idea where these lines of towers come from, or where they march off to; they just stomp across the land for miles along the road from Cragg Vale to the M62 on Saddleworth Moor.
Today marks the start of the second six-month period of this blog – and thus we are at the halfway point. Yes folks, I am forty-two-and-a-half years old as of today. Because I am something of a statto, I feel obliged to share with you the information that:
Anyway, so. I have as much to do as I have done so far. We’re halfway through. I’m still enjoying it: I’ll keep doing it if you’ll keep reading it.