By: Blonde Two

This morning, the Two Blondes are waking up on Dartmoor again.  We are up early to see the kids off on day two of their weekend’s walking.  Hopefully we will hear some more Skylarks today.  Every now and again I have a classical music moment.  I particularly like music that reminds me of or has been written to celebrate the great outdoors.  Hence my love of all things Elgar and his music written on and around the Malvern Hills.

This weekend’s classical moment comes courtesy of Vaughan Williams (I didn’t know until now that his first name was Ralph).  If you listen to the piece and then listen to a Skylark – we Dartmoor walkers are lucky to hear so many – you will be sure that Ralph spent many happy hours listening to them somewhere (he grew up in the Surrey Hills), someone from Surrey will have to tell me if they have Skylarks there.  He didn’t write the music watching birds he was actually watching First World War troop ships crossing the English Channel (I guess there may have been birds there too).

If you have never stood on frosty grass, listening, with your eyes closed, to skylarks as the rising sun warms your face then you should someday.  But hurry up, the poor little skylark is on the Red British Birds conservation list which means that their numbers are in decline.  He is not a very exciting little fellow to look at but his flight pattern and rising song are lovely.  Below are two links – one to Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending and the other to an actual Skylark.  See if you can spot which one is which!

Skylarks, like many moorland birds, nest on the ground where they are almost impossible to spot until you are right on top of them.  Dartmoor National Park Authority have designated several bird nesting areas that teams training for Ten Tors are requested not to enter during Spring and early Summer months.  This makes for extra navigation practice and a few longer routes – neither of which are a bad thing for a group of youngsters.  If you want to see the map and be a careful walker yourself, here it is