Country diary: going with the flow of the dipper’s song

Country diary: going with the flow of the dipper’s song

Wye Dale, Derbyshire: By one of the bridges, two dippers have built a nest: a football-sized ball of moss layered with a sense of time and season

This valley is one of the greenest places in England I know, partly because it’s so steeped in shadow – a result of the high limestone cliffs that rise to the south. Currently the sun climbs only to the lip, leaving the dale bottom chilled and still. Yet even in this dormant leafless state it feels like temperate rainforest.

The river flows with the sort of dense water that runs from a drake mallard’s malachite head, like oil off a skillet. Every tree and stone is furred in moss or feathered with hard fern, but just beneath the cliff’s horizon, among the treetops, is an inner membrane of song thrush song that seals in the dale with its warming, bell-like timbre.

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