Winter turns the sound down on everything; the kissing gate’s clunk, twigs beneath boots, a walker’s yarn, all absorbed and swallowed by damp leaves and soft snow. Even the call of a fervent blackbird drops its echo.
Stand beneath the aged limbs of an oak after heavy snowfall and this stifling of noise, this stillness, is at its most patent. The tree’s hefty, snow-bearing branches are unmoved even by the chill gusts of January. But then a sudden crack: a branch gives way and an avalanche rushes to the ground, a cloud of fine powder drifting down in its wake. One such tree can be found in the Lakes, rooted to the side of a farmer’s field beside a small copse known as Kennel Wood.
Kennel Wood oak near Bowness-on-Windemere, Cumbria ©Jake Graham
Fuel up on coffee and cake in the town of Bowness-on-Windermere then make for the hills in search of this wonderful winter spectacle.
Turn right out of Braithwaite Fold Car Park up Glebe Road, bearing right once more on to the A592. After about 100m, turn left and follow the twisting roadway uphill, staying right on Smithy Lane.
Mist over Lake Windermere in Cumbria ©Ashley Cooper / Barcroft Media
After 500m, turn left on to the A5074, then, shortly after, go right, continuing uphill for a further 500m to cross straight over another road into a lane. The lane passes several large homes, including Windy Hall and its reed-flanked pond, home to waterfowl. Pass the pond on your left and go through a kissing gate. Climb to the top of a half-wooded hill before descending to Lindeth Farm. Pick your way through the yard on the main track, leaving to the south-west on a footpath through a gap in a wall, into a field. On your right sits a small body of water, frozen in the colder months. And at the top of the hill, is your oak.
Beneath the tree
Take a moment to enjoy this survivor – its trunk embossed with knots and burrs, its canopy laden with snow – then return the way you came to the warmth of Bowness.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.