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Introduction

Get to know A Bit About Britain - an idiosyncratic view of places to visit in Britain, British history - and stuff. Warts and all. Where shall we go today?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A winter's walk


Ingleborough, Yorkshire, Three Peaks, Dales, Ingleton

It’s been an easy winter thus far.  In our neck of the woods, the number of frosty mornings necessitating ritualistic windscreen ice scraping ceremonies can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  So when we woke up to see Jack Frost had visited the other weekend, we thought a stroll before breakfast was in order.  Besides, I thought, maybe the photos would be OK for A Bit About Britain and I could use it as an excuse to talk about the weather.

Yorkshire, drystone wall

The Gulf Stream flows northward from Florida.  Somewhere along the way, it morphs into the North Atlantic Drift, pops across to visit the British Isles and is largely responsible for the mild weather experienced here and in other parts of Western Europe.

Greta, Burton in Lonsdale, North Yorkshire

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the British climate is famously temperate.  It would be nice to add, “just like its population”, but – sadly – Britain has proportionately as many nutcases as anywhere else.  However, my views on British politics and the standard of drivers around Manchester will have to wait for another time, because today we are concentrating on the weather.

The English, in particular, are notoriously fascinated by the weather – or talking about it, at any rate.  It is used as a standard conversation opener:

“Nice day”.

“Arr.  Cloudin’ over, though.  Could see 3 feet of snow and a tornado by tea time.”

“I’d better get home and let the husband in, then.”

All Saints' Church, Burton in Lonsdale, North Yorkshire

Extremes of weather are rare in Britain – though the winter of 1947 was so bad from January to March that it actually gets mentioned in books about the Cold War (bad joke intended, but it really was a significant historical event).  However, the lowest temperatures are usually reserved for upland areas and, particularly, the Highlands of Scotland where freezing and blizzard conditions are common in winter.  Elsewhere, snow before Christmas is not the the norm – though that certainly happened during the winter of 2010-11 and I know from personal experience that lowland temperatures then were at least -15 Centigrade.  Britain does get droughts too – though a British-style drought usually merely results in a hose-pipe ban.

A Bit About Britain, winter walk

The coldest temperature recorded in Britain is -27.2 Centigrade (Braemar in 1982 and Altnaharra in 1995), and the hottest is 38.5 Centigrade in Faversham, Kent, in 2003.


British weather is supposed to be unpredictable, though I think more so in the north - which I reckon is about twice as wet as the south.  Generally speaking, it is warmer in the south and drier and colder in the east.  Rain is universal – which is why the place is as green as it is and why it was good to take advantage of that crisp, dry, morning.  And this is a good moment to stop before we get into serious issues like climate change, increased flooding and the prediction that the south east will soon be a desert.

Winter walk, berries, Bit About Britain

33 comments:

  1. lovely area! i grew up in the midwest - farming country. two things were always talked about - the weather and the price of gasoline. :)

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  2. Love your pics! Weather is a big topic of conversation here in Canada too - there is always some kind of strange system heading our way.

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  3. Oh yes, "nice day", "it's a bit brass monkeys", "turned out nice again" - so many ways to open a conversation while waiting in a queue or starting the day at work. The weather is certainly on our minds all the time, especially when you have a camera in hand! Keep dry and warm :-)

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  4. What a beautiful place, Mike! I would really enjoy a walk there.

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  5. Hope it stays mild there for you, Mike. What the British colonists soon discovered here in Virginia is that while it can be very much like England in spring and fall, all bets are off in the winter and summer. :-)

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  6. What a wonderful place for a brisk walk, and then something warm--like brandy.

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  7. Lovely photos Mike! As far as I am concerned the snow can stay well away for as long as it likes. Although I would say the same about the huge amounts of rain we had last winter too. The flooding near and around us was horrible. Let us hope for a cool, but dry and well mannered weatherwise winter and Christmas! Happy Christmas!

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  8. This Floridian says, much of our Southwest is a desert. Wasn't always. As late as the conquistador's first visit, what is desert now was vast grasslands. That was long before coal generating plants. Everything changes. That is the only certainty in life...and taxes.

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  9. Beautiful photos and I love that view of the mountain. The frost looks pretty on everything. The southeast a dessert? Wow. Thanks for sharing the great photos of your area.

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  10. Your countryside is so very beautiful.

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  11. Weather is always fascinating. Here we're at the point where the cold arctic air masses dip down the farthest in the middle of the continent. So even though our latitude is like souther France, our winters are considerably worse than Scotland, and our climate is nowhere near as mild as England. And I remember those palm trees up at Inverewe!

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  12. Beautiful shots, and very wintery- at least a British kind of wintery.

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  13. Very nice shots and I love your imaginary conversation.

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  14. I think British drivers should be given an immense break. After all, it is illegal for them to drive on the right side of the road most of the time!

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  15. Beautiful photos as always. I remember the snow before Christmas in 2010 - I slipped and broke my arm the day before Christmas Eve and I'd invited a houseful over for the day! I'm a summer person but I love those frosty days with blue skies and freezing temperatures, they really make you feel alive!

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  16. Mike, I particularly like the picture of Ingleborough.

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  17. The weather is always a topic of interest. Your photos are beautiful - I love the frosty fields. Even here in the Australian tropics, we have a few days in winter when we scrape the ice off the car in the mornings. The statistics are interesting to me - the hottest ever recorded of 38.5 in Kent - that is hot for England, but I would love it if our summers never went any higher than that. It was over 40 here yesterday, and I don't like it one bit!

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  18. Fabulous scenery and your photos are beyond gorgeous Mike. I had forgotten how much we like to talk about the weather. I think it is in our genetic code :-). Thank you so much for your very nice comment on the anniversary post, very much appreciated.

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  19. Ah yes, I'm always fascinated with weather as well! Always entertaining is reading about weather facts, like "Mists in the old moon, rain in the new: When birds stop singing, a storm is on the way, Watch the heifer's tail; when stretched aloft, 'twill rain or hail! Taken from The Wonder of Weather, by George D. Freier, PH.D.

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  20. you are so blessed to get snow there, we are in the northern part of nZ so sadly its not cold enough in winter.

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  21. The English weather is one of the reasons my parents migrated to Australia in 1949. It must have been that 47 winter that spurred them on. But it wasn't only the weather, The rationing was more a problem.

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  22. Can you imagine just how boring it would be if the sun shone everyday!!!
    We wouldn't appreciate it half as much.
    Some lovely images Mike

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  23. Gorgeous photos - I enjoyed seeing these lovely views of the British countryside! I wondered how you came upon your temperate climate and now I know - the gulf stream. We actually have an almost identical climate here in Washington State due to the influence of the South Pacific - Hawaiian Islands. Wet and mild winters here, too, with nearly year round gardening. I enjoyed this post and your sense of humor :) - Karen

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  24. We usually have the same weather in Brittany as in Southern England: mild temperatures. But for this year, so far, we win: absolutely no frosting so far - no windshield to scrap... and no excuse to be late at work! And here as well, we talk a lot about the weather, mostly to complain about it - which is the cause of all French people believing Brittany has the worst weather!

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  25. Some lovely photos to go with your weather thoughts :-)

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  26. I am always SO grateful for the gulf stream! I think our weather is interesting because it is so different and unpredictable each year. And I absolutely adore your photos. You are so lucky to have that kind of scenery on your doorstep. Somehow the frost doesn't look the same in city streets.

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  27. Mike these pics are so incredibly beautiful. Although we have 'weather' here of course, somehow seeing frost in England always makes me homesick and brings back a myriad of childhood memories. Growing up in Devon was so cold in winter, despite the offshore passing of the Gulf Stream along the Channel (which is why my ashes will some day be tossed into The Pond off the North Carolina coast to come home!). Drawing pictures in the frozen condensation on the bedroom window, holding undies up to the electric fire in the kitchen, sitting with legs so close to the fireplace and being warned of chilblains (does anyone get them anymore?), then having to actually walk to school in wellies and macs most days.

    Thank you, as always for sharing your spot on this amazing planet Mike.
    Mary -

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  28. Haha, yes I much prefer talking about the weather rather than politics and the standard of drivers. It seems to me from the standard of weather in the north that the norm is that the west gets all the weather (good and bad) and the east gets the remnants unless of course there's a north wind :-(

    I'm a sucker for snow scenes and I do like this set particular the two mountain landscapes. I like to see that you are trying tree silhouetting. Nothing like a tree in winter for this technique.

    btw ... Next up on my blog and just about completed is a winter walk.

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  29. We Canadians talk about the weather...a LOT!! Since I decided to walk along Hadrian's Wall in Sept. I've added Newcastle and Carlisle to my weather app so I can view their temperatures daily. When it's -17c here it's often +12c there!! I'm astounded by the effect of the gulf stream and literally goggled at the palm trees in the south of England!

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  30. Beautiful pictures, Mike. I guess it is the same the world over. We have crazies here too and the weather is always a topic for conversation. And our topic is HOT!!! now..Happy Weekend..Judy

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  31. What lovely photos thank you it is winter here but we don't get snow in my part of Australia

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Hi - thanks for dropping into A Bit About Britain. New material is now being posted to www.bitaboutbritain.com and most of the material here will gradually be updated and moved over to that new site. Please drop in there, click on the blog page, and take a look round. TTFN - Mike.