5am on a Sunday morning at -1°C when you haven’t slept isn’t a good way to start the day. Neither is a 2½ hour drive along roads you accept because Satnav “told you so” and can’t get your brain into gear yourself.
Anyway, arrival in Hawes with my friend Rosanna (we belong f4 Photographic Group in Cottingham – a club dedicated to photography and drinking but not necessarily in that order) – we met Simon from WildDales with whom we’d organised a day photographing red squirrels and other wild creatures, from the peace and quiet of one of his hides. We’d chosen the reflection pool, but, because of the temperature and overnight snow, it was frozen. So the couple in the woodland hide kindly agreed that we could share their hide for an hour until Simon assured us the reflection pool would be thawed out. There were running poles, tree stumps and other features to attract the wildlife and we were engrossed in it for what seemed like 5 minutes when Simon came back to take us down to the other hide. Big enough for two people only and still with a light covering of broken slivers of ice we settled down and waited for only a short while before more critters came to join us. Lots of small wild birds and a pair of pheasant.
At 2pm and a few thousand images later we trekked up the hill to the land rover and said our goodbyes. A beautifully peaceful site which has been well thought out and developed by Simon over a number of years – can’t wait to go back.