Mud Month

According to Wikipedia, the Old English for February (before the Julian calendar carried all before its logical,Roman domination) is Solmonath which means Mud Month. And to be fair, January went out on a prolonged downpour which has left us surrounded by thundering waterfalls, bursting rivers and the perpetual sound of water crashing over rocks and down hillsides…Our little beck in the front garden became a raging torrent on the verge of spilling over onto the lawn, even where it’s normally 4 feet lower in its wee ghyll. Majestic and magnificent. And very loud. The sort of white noise that helps you sleep very soundly.

Our water supply comes straight from Lingmoor’s summit via several over and underground streams, eventually joining Blea Tarn after it’s left us. It’s normally a mild-mannered creature but is currently rather giddy…

Tuesday

Back at work after a week off with Mr Pat. As per our new plan (go to bed early, get plenty of sleep, up for a quick walk before driving to work, get home and repeat) we were up at 5am and ready to hit the lane by 5.30a.m. I don’t know who was more surprised but we met the milkman en route and he did look like he wasn’t expecting to see anyone on foot…

It was one of those cold, very dark, damp mornings where you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Vladipuss followed us, meowing all the way up the cattle grid…And then all the way back home. We were only out for 20 minutes but I could have floated to work on my halo…

It was dark and horrible when I got home. I was so busy making me go to bed at 10pm, I forgot to put the chickens to bed. Luckily, Mr Pat did the honours when he came home at midnight.

Wednesday

A late half day at work so had the luxury of a lie-in which meant that we could walk in daylight – we didn’t even get wet! Still damp, still claggy but at least we could see where to put our feet. Vladipuss and Tommy both followed… A ray of bright light – I daren’t call it sunshine – hit the Tarn momentarily. All 3 doggies were damp which didn’t seem to bother them in the slightest.

I did a big shop on the way home from work, made sure everyone was fed and watered and even remembered to put the chickens to bed. It was chucking it down when I got back -even the doggies didn’t want to stay out. By the time I’d finished my chores, I was soaked. I didn’t even bother lighting the fire, had a lovely hot shower and went straight to bed instead. The doggies looked a bit puzzled…

It was a bit chilly but not that cold!

Thursday

9am start at work so a 6am alarm call. It didn’t go off – but my hero woke up at 6.30 so we rushed out for a very hurried walk up to the cattle grid in the half-light. It was cold. More snow had fallen on the tops and the wind was bitter. We didn’t hang about.

I was home late after a busy shift and it was absolutely tipping down. Proper Lake District rain. I went through a lot of very big puddles in all the usual places. I aquaplaned along some of the lanes – the water was pouring off the fells and there wasn’t much traffic around after Ambleside which is a bad sign…The water had found its way into the barn but the chickens were all snug and warm in their coop. Despite the weather, since the days started lengthening they’re laying well. It was my day off on Friday so instead of going to bed uber-early, I went to pick Pat up. It was an interesting drive – the lanes were flooded in parts and it was like fording a river down by the campsite…

Middlefell Farm ahead with the Old Dungeon Ghyll to the right. Lots of water in front 😂

Friday

It stopped raining at some point – just light rain which we almost didn’t notice! I had a mooch round the garden to see how things were doing – I wasn’t sure just how much of it was left…I was thrilled to find that the snowdrops were doing really well and the hellebore had started flowering. It’s such a beautiful flower.

Such an unexpectedly beautiful flower – head bowed modestly until all is revealed when you tip it up

Our beck was like a wild thing – I had a good look at it and enjoyed its watery flamboyance. It wasn’t getting any higher which was a relief. Water in full spate carries all sorts of debris including big rocks and branches …once it’s properly down again, we’ll check for damage and see what gifts the water gods have left behind…

I dropped Mr Pat off at work and took Luna for a walk up Mickleden. I didn’t want to leave the pub – the fire was blazing in the range but a girl’s gotta do and all that, so off we tootled …It was magnificently moody – a thousand streams showered off the Pikes into the valley, tumbling and splashing noisily. When the tops are shrouded in the swirling mist and the mountains loom upwards as guardians of the spirit world, it’s easy to see why these slate rocks were part of an ancient sacred landscape. The Norse settlers were more pragmatic and less inclined towards the nomadic lifestyle. They enclosed the valley with drystone walls and divided it up into farms…these walls have been added to and rebuilt many hundreds of times by succeeding generations of farmers…I love their sinewy lines as they trace the contours of the valley.

Most of the paths were underwater – but my old, well-dubbined boots miraculously kept my feet dry. Stoical sheep gave us a stare before carrying on noshing – they’ve seen it all before. There weren’t many people about at all but the rain started coming down again. We passed a couple of likely lads who’d obviously been standing around for some time- they were friendly and fancied a natter but Miss Luna was having none of it and barked her head off, from a safe distance.

Even though it was a short stroll through water, mud and more water and a bit of rain, it was wonderful to be out there. Even so, I was happy to see the pub again – I do love to be warm and dry 🙂

The pile of rocks behind the sheep pens is from Langdale prehistory – the valley has many of these if you know where to look
Downstream from the weir

Published by Sue Lee

The challenges of living off grid at the top of The Big Hill at Blea Tarn in the Langdale valley with a few furries & my other half, Mr Pat.

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