Larch Stump

Tuesday, 14th February 2006, Win Hill, Peak District, Derbyshire


I take a path up the side of Win Hill which starts not far from the waterfall I was drawing yesterday and, after ten or fifteen minutes climbing the rugged stone blocks that serve as steps, I'm ready for a break.

I'm about to sit on this larch stump but it's wet and covered in powdery algae so sit on the mossy bank beside it, folding up my coat (I'm warm after that climb) as a cushion.

When you're walking through rugged country, you're watching where you put your feet, so you can tend to get just a general impression of the landscape that you're passing through; woodland, moorland or water's edge.

But when you stop and allow yourself a few minutes to take in your surroundings, you start to pull in a thred of connections within the landscape; to natural history, geology, Parker penlandscape, climate, soils and to the activities, over hundreds of years, of man in the landscape. In the Peak District; there always seems to be some object - a wall, a gatepost or a waterfall for example - with resonance and history in it. In this damp climate such objects have usually been colonised by lichens and mosses.

Field Notes

sketchbookI make notes about the larch stump and its lichens, mosses and fungi and about the surrounding oak leaves, ferns, holly bushes and rocks. I feel as if I'm getting drawn into the web of connections that make the Peak District what it is; tuning into a hidden world which runs parallel to our own.

I'm so busy these days with my publishing business that I find it difficult to allow myself enough time to be drawn into the natural world to any extent. I'm going to have to find the time to do so, because the theme of my Peak District book is making a connection with the landscape by noticing the small things that you perhaps don't take in consciously as you walk briskly over the hills but which are so much a part of the experience of being here.

After all the wash drawing yesterday, I'm ready for some linework, or, rather, a combination of my regular Parker fountain pen and the pre-mixed Chinese ink washes which I was using yesterday. Next Page

Richard Bell,