Ani and I watched the skies all weekend. Heavy, grey, full of snow and constantly snowing. The small dog spent most of her time either chasing snowflakes in the garden, or doggedly propping the garden doors open with her not-so-small body. I alternated between turning blue and turning the air blue in an attempt to convince her that warmth is good… and closed doors encourage warmth…especially when the heating is on. Apparently, the dog is deaf. Selectively.
Yet we saw very little snow settle on the ground and stay. In fact, it was whiter last time I was in the north when an unexpected frost caught us by surprise. Not that frost in the north should be unexpected in winter, but the weather in the town had been just grey and damp. I should have thought it through a little better, but we were heading for Castleton and the chance to drive up over the tops of the moor was too good to miss. Ten minutes later and another thousand feet higher, and the narrow road was an ice rink.
But, above the fog, it was a beautiful clear day and the moor was busy. We managed to pull over for a moment with the cameras, but the lay-bys were full of cars disgorging walkers. It was bitterly cold, and within minutes our hands were blue. Even so, cold or not, I would have been tempted myself, but we had things to do. Castleton, we hoped, would provide us with somewhere to buy certain props for the April workshop. As well as a pub.
It was, though, incredibly beautiful, with the green and russet of the earth against the blue of the sky, highlighted by the ice and the pale forms of the free-roaming sheep that call the moor their home. Not only do they see the moor as theirs, they also pay little heed to motor vehicles and their presence, crossing roads, wandering the verges and laying in wait for unwary motorists, adds an element of adrenaline to any drive over the top.
Other than the beauty of the morning, though, it was a sheep that provided the highlight of the drive. Crawling along at a couple of miles an hour while the sheep wandered the road ahead and the ice made driving a hairy experience on those hills, we were able to get a good view of something neither of us had seen before.
One sheep approached a parked car and began sniffing at it. Quite what it found, we’ll never now…but as we passed it was licking away at the car as if it were an ice-cream. “There’s nowt as queer as folk,” we say in the north. Except, perhaps, a car-eating sheep.