It is still very dry with the marsh and the fell sides turning an unaccustomed pale gold where the dry grasses are bleached to savannah shades. In places, patches of glowing orange are the dead leaves of desiccated bilberry plants, their fruits falling black and shrunken before they can be picked. The stringy stalks of Bell-heather are conserving the meagre water better and producing the first swath of purple flowers prior to the August burst of common ling. In the forest silver birch trees, quick to grow, with shallower roots have been turning prematurely autumnal from yellow to brown with the whisper of their falling leaves twisting in the hot winds. Even the conifers, with their drought resistant needles are shedding pale storms of pins and their lower branches are drooping to the ground, blocking the deer and badger runs. The trackway verges through the forest are powdered white where the infrequent forestry vehicles have been writing ‘Eat my dust’ – instead of the usual, ‘Mind my mud’.
However, all may change in the next week as the forecast tells of thunderstorms and rain to come, cooling the earth and washing the warmer waters out of the Lakes. If you want to go bathing in Bassenthwaite blue water without shivers this may be the last weekend to do it!