I took my two boys to look for the Easter Bunny this weekend. I’ll reframe that (to change the scene in your head): they’re 25 and 21 and we were after Mountain Hare. But the Hares were harder to find than all those badly hidden Easter eggs in the garden over the years. Despite lots of tell-tale Maltesers in evidence (keeping the chocolate theme going), no Hares were seen this time. The lads were home for Easter weekend and we’d set off early in the evening on the final round of the two grid squares I had been allocated for the National Trust annual Mountain Hare survey.
Taru and Jenny had wanted to do the ten mile circular that navigates Pule Hill, Close Moss and March Hill. The weather looked like it would be pretty good to us. Although good in Marsden is relative: ‘fresh’ or ‘blowy’ would be kind euphemisms.
But as Simon Armitage says in ‘Snow’ (a great piece and a stop along the trail) : ‘We should make the most of the light”. That’s a pointer to the poet’s birthplace and conditioning right there.
The poems that we took turns reading out at each ‘waymarker’ (yes, I sprang that on them) were frequently snatched from mouth and hand.
And the winds crashing against the industrial cliffs of Pule Hill quarry knocked Taru and Jenny over at one point. Then threatened to snatch at least one of the three hounds off and away into neighbouring Lancashire.
I met up with a few other folk (including walking compadre, Jenny) above Marsden, early on Saturday morning. We were going to be shown how to spot for signs of the (elusive, as it happened) Mountain Hare. Signs that will help us complete an NT survey within the individual 1Km squares of Marsden Moor that we have been allocated.
I had a choice this weekend: go for a long walk around the Marsden Moors on Saturday (forecast: sleet / snow and low cloud on the tops) or Sunday (forecast: sunshine). I went for Saturday, as I’m perverse like that and I fancied a bit o’ weather to get me in the zone for a trip in early February up to Crianlarich.
A look back at 2014 walks:
I was stood in the dark at a festively decorated Black Hill trig point with some of my outdoorsy compadres and reflecting on my year of walks. This was last night, the Friday night before Christmas and some of the assembled group had run up from Marsden (they’re addled like that). Jeff, Mac, Steve and I had walked, the plan being to rendezvous with those tapped runners for some festive fare and bonhomie.
It had been a bit of a slog from the Isle Of Skye Road up to Black Hill, with low cloud, driving rain and strong wind. And the ever-slippy Pennine Way flagstones to add to the fun. Once at the top, I couldn’t actually see much from Black Hill itself (Stars, distant Holmfirth and Huddersfield all temporarily obscured by cloud and rain). But that was okay, the focus was on the merriment around me.
I’ve been talking recently with the folks behind a great new Pennines heritage trail that’s been devised in my area (the Colne Valley in West Yorkshire). They had incorporated a couple of my photos in their social media updates (very flattering) and I got in touch to find out a bit more about what they are doing.