Skygazing in Cumbria

Today was a beautiful, if unsettled day. There was a breeze and the sun was filtered at times by high wispy clouds. The air was still warm when I set off for work at 19:30, and the sky was by then almost clear of clouds. Approaching Shap, it felt like driving on top of the world, being able to see so far into the setting sky. The only clouds that remained were the ones that look like alien spaceships. Lenticular clouds. Apparently, they appear over hilly country in response to high pressure (and a few other factors).

So now I’m driving over Shap looking at the view and putting myself on the other side of the mirror, thinking how I’d feel if those really were clearly alien spaceships. Uneasy, for one.

Later, I was coming out from my last call, fumbling for the lady’s key, when a murder of crows flew overhead, cawing as they went. The main body first, then stragglers, and finally tailenders. Tolkien called crows Watchers in the Lord of the Rings. There are many crows and ravens here in Cumbria. A raven on a red background was the symbol of the Kingdom of Rheged in this area 1500 years ago. I think about what the crows saw, and who they might tell.

Driving back over Shap Fell, the spaceships were still suspended over the hills, but now they were encased in varying shades of a slumbering fire; silhouetted against the embers of the sunset with the sun no longer lighting them.

On Friday night, I was in the same spot at about the same time when I noticed a large white bird tearing meat from some roadkill. As I got nearer, it flew off, banking away from me, and landed a few feet away from the road. As I passed it I looked hard, thinking it was a seagull, it was so white, but it had an eagle’s face with its huge beak and angular forehead.

I nearly skidded to a halt, but resisted the urge to turn round and drive back because another vehicle was bound to come just at point 2 of the 300 point turn.

As far as I know they only have golden eagles (only! sorry) at Haweswater, which is over the way from Shap Fell. I am certain it was an eagle because I wasn’t expecting to see one, at all, it hadn’t even crossed my mind in recent times, so my assessment was based on what I saw, not any presumptions.

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