camera icon, links to background image
Banburyshire Rambles Journal:

‘The North Wind Comes...’

For me, having a day outdoors in the frost and cold is obligatory. Now the north wind is blowing, and it promises a lovely walk!

Banburyshire Rambles Journal: ‘The North Wind Comes...’ – route map, #{DATE}
click for a larger image
– mapping courtesy of OpenStreetmap

As I leave the house it starts to snow: heavily. By the time I reach Crouch Hill there’s a good dumping on the ground. “The North Wind do blow, and we shall have snow, and what will Robin do then?, poor thing”. Well, far as I can tell, all the lifeforms with any sense are sheltering deep inside the ground cover… except me!

Route: Banbury, Poet’s Corner, Crouch Hill, Salt Way, Giant’s Caves, Broughton Road, Banbury.

Metrics: Distance, 6.9km/4¼ miles; ascension, 105m/340ft; duration, 4½ hours.

Slideshow controls:   ⏪︎ ⏩︎

Slides from the walk:

image thumbnail 1 image thumbnail 2 image thumbnail 3 image thumbnail 4 image thumbnail 5 image thumbnail 6 image thumbnail 7 image thumbnail 8 image thumbnail 9 image thumbnail 10 image thumbnail 11 image thumbnail 12 image thumbnail 13 image thumbnail 14 image thumbnail 15

slideshow display image

All images in this blog post were created by Paul Mobbs, copyright as of blog date, and are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 International license. See the general copyright information page for details about reuse. For those who are interested, the original digital files for these, and thousands of other similar images are available to purchase under a non-exclusive license agreement. For more details please get in touch.

The sky is a leaden-gray; to the east, quite black. If these pictures are a little dim, that reflects the deep overcast slab of cloud that’s hanging low over North Oxfordshire – with large flakes of snow falling out of it. It was hoping for cold, but I think that as the cloud has moved in the last hour or so the temperature has risen slightly. No matter. This will do just fine for my needs.

I’m (overly!) layered-up for the cold, toastily warm – even though I’m standing still for quite long periods of time to capture photos and video of this increasingly rare (thanks to climate change) event. It’s so captivating: Not just the seemingly unusual cold in this record-breaking weather year; but the sensation of snow falling, and the unique muffled, hissing sound in the landscape it creates.

This is the title frame for Rambinactivist’s Video 2022_41.
“The North Wind do blow, and we shall have snow”
(click for the video of this walk)

When you’re out in the countryside in heavy snow there’s not a lot of noise; the snow deadens any sound carrying in the air. More importantly, all the animals with any sense are buried deep in the under-storey of the hedges, sheltering from the cold. In that deep silence with the faint hiss of the falling snow, what you are left with is the rhythm of your boots on the ground, and the beating of your heart, and the slight drum brush after-beat of the snow scattering as you walk through it.

Banburyshire Rambles: ‘A Hard Frost on Sibford Heath’, 7th December 2010.
‘A Hard Frost on Sibford Heath’, 7th December 2010.

As a kid, I used to walk out into the countryside during the regular Winter snows; back in a time when Banbury would be cut-off when the snow drifted across the major roads that cross the high ridges to get into the town. I had an old military great coat, and naff-all sense, so after four or five hours outdoors I’d come home frozen but happy. Gradually those experiences taught me how to dress and equip myself to be – and even sleep – outdoors in freezing weather.

I really miss this. I find the cold far more pleasing and refreshing than the Summer heat. This – probably barely below freezing according to the ear-nose tingle ratio – is actually very comfortable: I’d prefer -6°C or -7°C; the best I’ve has locally was around -12°C back in the Winter of 2010/11.

As the snow slackens off, the cloud starts to become patchy with the odd bright spot. But around sunset, with no let-up in the slab of stratus from horizon-to-horizon, and the snow below scattering the light from above, everything takes on an ethereal reddish-purple hue as the light starts to properly dim.

I can only hope this is an early start to a beautiful Winter.

I really can’t write much more: Words can’t describe this very well (you just have to be here!). Apart from the music in my head, and the visuals I’m trying to capture and share, the over-powering sense I have of the day is relaxation; a simple enjoyment of seeing a side of the local landscape that’s becoming ever rarer these days.

The Free Range Network logo
Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-NC logo