The moor is at its wildest this time of year. Even on a bright day, the cold blue light is a clear reminder of how far north I am. Low in the sky, it blinds me when I look to the horizon.
There are no bright, yellows of Impressionist colour here and I’m reminded why paintings that ‘prettify’ the moor with a Mediterranean colour palette grate: the grey-brown-sepia shades are the right backdrop to the vivid leaf greens of the Scots pine, holly and grasses. You don’t get this chocolate and pale blue silhouetting effect further south. It needs no ‘prettifying’ to be beautiful.
Walking, I try and guess how much of the white noise above me is from leaves and how much from water. It’s an attention-grabbing sound and I’m inclined to follow it, without knowing why. The bracken lie with broken backs and curled palms around me.
There is something about a wide space dotted with birch trees that makes me suddenly intimidated. I’m intruding on their space. Two hundred yards on, from a different angle, I can’t work out why I thought that at all.
I’ve come in search of tree shapes and I remember doing exactly the same for A level Art on Kendal Heights. I want to capture their curves, which are more exaggerated up here on exposed ground. Rowan, birch, Scots pine and holly. Trees that hold on. Groups that all lean the same way. I sketch quickly with my favourite new pen, perching on the ground or standing on the path, no one else around.
Lichen still holds my attention and sitting on a rock I discover a whole colony of flowering lichen. The flowers look like trumpets or something a little unnerving from under the sea. I take photos and sketch a few of them.
Taking a moment for inspiration is what I’ve missed in the rush of Christmas, this breath of fresh air is like… well. The moor has given me exactly what I needed, beautiful images, exercise and some sketches to use and play with. Then it reminds me that it isn’t entirely safe as I slide down a steep ‘path’ and do something minor but painful to my knee.
Not safe but wonderful. That’s my moor.