Camddwr, North West

Camddwr, North West
2020, oil on canvas board, 7x5in.

Even in snow, it is tempting to make my own path across the high open moorland of the Berwyn mountain range in mid-Wales. The footpaths are only vague patterns on the surface anyway. On this day, there is only the sound of a bitingly cold wind and the babbling of water as it dithers down the hillside towards the far below. But I should have known better, than to stray up here.

Within a few hundred feet I was up to my knees in soft, sludgy snow. Underneath it, was the increasingly mushy bog threatening to breach my waterproof boots at the ankles. Things got worse, largely due to my stubborn nature. I was fixed on reaching a viewpoint towards the north east and never looked back.

Onward, swinging my knees above my hips, squidging the snow, splodging the bog, dropping into snowdrift gullies, rising onto exposed grassy ridges, not a skylark in song, nor a buzzard or even a sheep to be seen. In the absence of them, it is me and the wind and the water that make song.

I stop a moment to catch my breath. Under all these layers of clothing I am burning sweaty hot. I am halfway to where I want to be. The footpath I left is long lost. Even the views have been swallowed by horizon and cloud. But here, in this 'nowhere' there is the calming flow of water. I listen to its gentle bubbling and trace its course up through the narrow gully. I see crystal colours shine off the brilliant surface of the gathered snow. I capture it with my camera, before continuing my adventure, getting further lost.

I have never looked at the photo until now. It got lost in all the pictures of the mountain peaks and coastal walks and family members. Searching for a simple picture to paint in my studio today, I came upon it and suddenly, I was back in that nowhere spot: listening to the brook and looking at the sparkling colours in the snow. It was a memory that I had once lost. But the photo will tell you it was bleak and cold and uninviting and so, because I did not wholly agree with it, I reached for the paint to give you my side of the story.

These little snapshots of heaven are everywhere. We must not just seek them out, but remember them.
Especially for times like now. 

Camddwr, North West (detail)


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