Hope Valley

Monday, 31st January 2005
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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Ladybower from Shatton MoorThis is the kind of commuting I like: I drop off Barbara at the library and pretty soon I'm out of Wakefield along the Denby Dale Road, turning off on a minor road towards High Hoyland. I exchange rush-hour traffic and green-field development sites ('if it's green, build on it' is the current motto around here) for woods, pastures and stone-built villages. I slow down to pass the riders on their way to their morning gallop.

By plantations near Cannon Hall, a man with a broken gun under his arm and a spaniel at his feet is watching the treetops. He's the last man in a line of guns waiting for the pheasants to break cover from the wood.

I head for the Bay Tree Café at the High Peak Garden Centre, Bamford, and punctuate a day drawing a hedgerow ash, a wall and this view with breaks for coffee and lunch. Do Mondays get any better than this?

I'm intending to use the drawings in a Sushi Sketchbook but I thought I'd give you a preview of the view looking back across the Hope Valley towards Ladybower Reservoir (the light line in the distance). I sheltered in the car at the top of Shatton Lane to draw this. The crows flying erratically across the hillside against the wind at and below my eye level were just what the landscape needed. I think they give a Lord of the Rings dimension to the scene.

Cussedly, I've decided to go for a 'portrait' rather than 'landscape' format for this panoramic part of the world and I think I've made the right decision because it works well for the details, like trees and walls, but it also adds drama to this view across the valley. I don't think this would have worked as well in 'landscape' format.

I'm using an A6 Pink Pig sketchbook instead of the 6 x 6 inch format that I've been using for the past year for the Sushis. Next Page

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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