It was a chilly morning, but that didn’t stop me from getting out of bed and travelling to Eycott Hill – and was I glad to have done so!
Before beginning our journey, Imogen spoke about the brief history of the site to explain the geological formations that we would pass. Whilst the wind whistled past, the blue skies and snow-capped mountains were a spectacular sight to see as we started the walk.
We wandered along the waymarked route across the nature reserve, crunching through the fresh, crisp snow. You could see the ridges of the valley, formed into the landscape from the ancient volcanic lava flows.
I noticed that one of the boardwalks was under construction to protect the bog. Staff and volunteers had been attending conservation work parties to build these so that sundew, grass-of-Parnassus, and Sphagnum mosses could thrive. Imogen discussed the importance of Sphagnum moss for CO2 storage, air purification, and water storage – an advantage for flood alleviation and slowing the flow of water.
Adjusting the grazing methods, from sheep to Luing cattle, has benefited the biodiversity of species present here – juniper and heather can be seen recovering across the nature reserve and Cumbria Wildlife Trust want to see the area of upland shrub heath spread.
We reached the summit of Eycott Hill to see Blencathra, its saddle topped with snow. In the distance, a blizzard moved with the gusty wind, storming through the rays of sunshine that beamed down on the frosted ground.
The flurry of snow rapidly approached, dimming the bright sunlight and masking the distant mountain views in a matter of minutes. More snowflakes fell from the greyed skies, coating the reserve in a thick white blanket. Whilst the children in the group continued to enjoy the winter wonderland, we waded through the snow, heading back to the carpark before the bitter temperatures caught us up from the blizzard behind.
Come along to the next guided walk by checking the What’s On guide for a list of upcoming events… What weather will you face?