‘Threshthwaite Mouth’ is a bonus piece for my ‘Patterdale to Hartsop’ nature writing series, wherein, after having reached Hartsop, I continue to hike beyond the village and into the nearby Lake District fells.
This piece can be read as a stand-alone piece; however, if you haven’t already done so, you may wish to first read the rest of the Patterdale to Hartsop series, which includes (oldest to most recent): The Goldrill Bridge, A Trio of Swallows, A Triad of Redstarts, and A Territorial Buzzard.
A morning hidden behind a diaphanous curtain of cloud has evolved into a clement afternoon, the clouds now few and the sky a cerulean blue.
I amble through Hartsop—a delightful little Lake District settlement made primarily of grey stone—until I reach a bridge that crosses a crystal clear beck. In the undergrowth of a thicket to the left of the bridge, a family of wrens rummage the nooks and crannies; and to the right of the bridge, I spy a spotted flycatcher stood proudly on top of its perch.
I cross the bridge and make my way into the small valley between the fells known as Hartsop Dodd and Gray Crag. The craggy, infinitely-faceted central upper part of Gray Crag’s western face interacts fantastically with the intense light of this extraordinarily fine summer’s day, forming a greyscale mosaic ranging from the blacks of the darkest shadows to the shimmers of the most exposed surfaces.
As I wander around the foot of Hartsop Dodd to enter deeper into the valley—a dragonfly whizzing past here, a butterfly fluttering by there, and a sheep’s skull lying in the grass yonder—I can’t help but check the skies above and behind, every two minutes or so, for incoming buzzards. I feel as though I am being a bit paranoid, but it was only about fifteen minutes ago when a territorial buzzard behaved frighteningly hostile towards me, giving me an adrenaline rush that I still haven’t come down from.
According to my map, the valley through which I walk is called Pasture Bottom. The name is undoubtedly apt, for before me lies an exuberance of green as far as the eye can see.
Gurgling and glistening through the middle of the serene green that is Pasture Bottom is Pasture Beck, an artery flowing with life force.
The path I follow gradually increases in altitude, entering the realm of wheatears and meadow pipits, and the beck shrinks, becoming ever smaller, as I near its source in the cirque below Threshthwaite Mouth, a pass that allows access into the valley of Trout Beck on the other side.
Two grey wagtails, named after the grey plumage of their dorsal side rather than the vivid lemon-yellow of their ventral, prance from stone to stone in Pasture Beck’s upper reaches; and a little higher up, a wren, one of Great Britain’s smallest birds, sings his little heart out, the song surprisingly sonorous for his size.
I finally set foot on Threshthwaite Mouth, a point that has been on the horizon for the duration of my ramble through the verdant valley that is now behind me, and ‘Oh my’, the view that has materialised before my very eyes is simply magnificent!
I look down into a shallow, U-shaped valley just as luxuriant as the one I just climbed out of. Indeed, it is a collage of greens, each green corresponding with a different vegetal species—ferns, mosses, grasses and rushes—and influenced, too, by the fluffy white clouds in the azure above that cast their metamorphosing shadows onto the floor below.
Situated within the valley, like a limpet suctioned to a rock, is a small fell, and it too is covered from head to toe in a coat of greenery.
In the distance, the slick, cyan surface of Lake Windermere stands out from the low hills that enfold it, and I can discern the islands that stud its centre. The elongated body of water, the epitome of a ribbon lake, tapers off into a far-away haze, a haze that hovers over the coast and lingers above the sea.
When I manage to tear myself away, I hike back to Hartsop via the peak of Gray Crag, forever touched by the scene I saw from Threshthwaite Mouth.