• Roger Waterhouse

Twisted Trees

Every January Jacky and I go up to the Forest of Bowland in North Lancashire for a few days walking. It's a forest only in the Norman sense, i.e. a royal hunting ground, and indeed a large chunk of it still belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster ie, the Queen. The scenery is magnificent and both physically and visually half way between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District - though without the tourists they both attract. In January there are very few visitors to be seen, so you pretty well have the place to yourselves.

As to its appearance, this might give you a general idea.

In spite of its proximity to some big industrial towns, it remains one of the more remote parts of England, and where the harsh reality of traditional hill farming is still stamped on the landscape.

But it has a characteristic flora (and fauna) which you just don't find elsewhere. And what never ceases to amaze and delight me about it, are the trees.

In winter of course, it's the skeletons you see. And very beautiful they can be.

This clump formed a windbreak for New House Farm, which is no longer a farm and is certainly not new.

See what I mean about the harsh reality?

Even the working farms don't have Range Rovers parked outside.

The landscape overall is littered with old freestanding trees, some of them ancient.

But it's when you begin to look at the detail...

Even of conifers...

That you realise the complexities of textures and patterns.

But what gets to me is the sculpting by wind and weather, be it of a blasted oak...

Or a twisted hawthorn...

And these are all cast against a background which has its own dour grandeur.

The dog loves it too.

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