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Snow over the Chevin

Friday, 23rd February 2001, West Yorkshire

grey squirrel WE GET A GLIMPSE of a Red Squirrel in a wood in Eskdale. At Muncaster Hall we noticed red squirrel feeders, which incorporate a spring-loaded platform designed so as to prevent access to the food when the larger grey squirrel put it's weight on it.

snow cloudDespite warnings of snow we make our back home mainly in sunshine. But as we near Otley Chevin a huge snow cloud follows us down Airedale. The painter J.M.W. Turner used to stay with his friend Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall at the foot of the Chevin. Recalling a day in the autumn of 1810 Fawkes' son, Hawkesworth, remembered a storm that inspired one of Turner's major paintings;

'Hawkey! Hawkey! Come here! Come here! Look at this thunder-storm. Isn't it grand? isn't it wonderful? - isn't it sublime?' All this time he was making notes of its form and colour on the back of a letter. I proposed some better drawing-block, but he said it did very well. He was absorbed - he was entranced. There was the storm rolling and sweeping and shafting out its lightning over the Yorkshire hills. Presently the storm passed and he finished. 'There Hawkey,' said he, 'In two years you will see this again, and call it Hannibal Crossing the Alps.'

'The storm rolled . . .', writes David Hill in his account of one of the artist's sketching expeditions in the Yorkshire Dales, In Turner's Footsteps, ' and Turner's imagination marched at the head of an army of elephants across the rocky sweeps of Otley Chevin.' next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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