Scouting the Snow

Snow-covered fields at dawn, nature blanketed by quiet, January rules the moors. Up on Pendle, the snow provides a unique opportunity to follow the local wildlife’s footprints. A fox’s tracks lead up from a dell, along a hedge and underneath, only to cross back under on the trail of a hare. Up the hill for twenty minutes where fox and hare must have met, a large area trampled by small clawed foot-pads, then fox and hare both went their separate ways.

The snow softens our tread and mutes the landscape, apart from the brooks and streams running down Pendle fast, filled with thaw. Before sunset, in a field, the quiet is balm despite the cutting air above frozen moors. As the skies turn rose and lilac, the last of the day’s light catches the white wings of the barn owl as she glides past Pendle’s wintery fields.


In dusk’s theatre, the animals reveal themselves. Deer race down-hill in a distance, seeking forested shelter for the night. A hare jumps along a ledge and a field mouse hushes into a hole. The owl lands on a gate post, aware of my watching. And as the light disappears and the cold sneaks into my bones, I leave the animals to their nocturnal hunt.