Howden Reflections

Not a breath of wind disturbed the surface of Howden Reservoir.

Reflections on Howden Reservoir
The air was cold and still, the glassy water mirroring the trees and hills on either bank, the sky a pale blue showing through the milk of high cirrus and aircraft contrails and a low, silvery winter sun reflecting brightly off the surface.
Perfect conditions to explore the high moors of the Peak District where even in summer the ground can remain wet and after this year’s weather is particularly sodden.  Today, after the recent sub zero temperatures the peat would be frozen allowing easier progress across the usual mire.
Despite the cold nights and recent flurries of snow the hills were surprisingly bare with only a few patches of icy snow remaining in north facing hollows.  Now the landscape’s colours are subdued, dormant after the purple of summer and autumn’s blaze of gold.
Subdued moorland colours
I headed uphill following a rough compass bearing and picking the easiest lines through the heather and exploring anything that caught my eye.  A group of gritstone boulders catching the winter sun looked significant from a distance but were actually little more than 8 feet high.  Hands on rock: rough, coarse, cold – no boulderer’s chalk here despite the challenge.
Gritstone boulder
A short distance away something stood out, silvery amidst all the brown.  Water trickling over rock had frozen causing smoothly ridged ice with irregular icicles fingering down to the peaty ground.  Replicating flowstone and stalactites nature had contrived in days to produce out of water what it takes millennia to do with Limestone.
Icicles or stalactites?

Further on I startled a mountain hare which dashed off zig zagging through the heather, its winter coat ironically conspicuous against the browns and visible long after it would have been in its summer colours. No predators were evident on the moor today and as if to celebrate a brace of grouse flapped away cackling, safe from the guns for now.

The sun was fading now, dimmed as the milky white cloud thickened and the sky became opaque.  The landscape flattened and the cold seemed to increase.  I turned for home, again taking a rough line across the moor to pick up the valley that would lead me back to the start.

Back at the reservoir the mirror remained intact.

Reflections on Howden Reservoir

To book a guided run, walk or navigation training visit http://www.fellrunningguide.co.uk/

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About fellrunningguide

Dave Taylor, fell runner and coach. 2015 English Fell Running Champion (V50). I work as Fell Running Guide - offering coaching, guided fell / trail runs and navigation training. www.fellrunningguide.co.uk
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