As is now our annual custom we spent the final few days of December visiting family up in Leeds. Food was eaten (a lot), walks were had and most importantly I reigned supreme at Trivial Pursuit. The icing on the cake though has to be the couple of inches of fresh snow which greeted our wakening on the final Friday of 2017. A pristine white blanket which for once had almost managed to silence the background roar of this northern powerhouse, planes grounded thanks to blocked runways and commuters safely tucked up at home. To make the most of conditions we headed for the hills behind Horsforth where the landscape was simply spectacular.
At this point snow was still falling heavily and by god it was some of the best snow I’ve ever experienced. It managed to walk that fine line between too wet and too cold producing a perfect consistency for construction. We thought our resultant snowman pretty impressive, right up until we spotted the eight foot monsters that others had managed to erect that is. None though were as pleasing on the eye as the giant snowball that had been rolled for long enough that it only just fit beneath a football crossbar. There was sledging too, probably hundreds of people queuing up to take their turn down the by now well defined run on what is clearly a favoured hill. I though sought peace and quiet away from the crowds finding this Robin amongst the trees. It was too dull really but I’ll never pass on an opportunity to try and photograph one of these typically seasonal birds.
By midday there was a perceptible drop in temperature resulting in the snow losing some of its earlier building brilliance but as we explored further the views continued to deliver.
It was only with the arrival of some weak winter sunshine that things began to change dramatically. Walking through nearby woodland we were surrounded by the sound of dripping water as trees shed their new-found coats before springing back to full height. A Great-spotted Woodpecker made its way noisily overhead whilst small flocks of Tits moved around us, out of sight in the failing light but bringing with them a little of the backing track which had for much of the day been silenced.
People often ask me why I love snow so much and I think days like this sum it up perfectly. When else does a natural event transform a landscape for such a brief and temporary period of time rendering the familiar at once less so? What else brings so many people into the great outdoors, many of whom perhaps would not have been so on any normal day? Snow of course, a fleeting visitor to this island nation but one which I welcome with open arms each and every time.