And talking of haggard, nothing is as haggard as the rock faces around Scafell Pike. Which makes Terry Abraham’s film all the more incredible in the way he has turned something as rough as rock into a sublime study of natural beauty.
For two hours we are up on the tops, down in the valleys, surrounded by cloud, drenched with rain, amongst the bustle of summit baggers and alone under a ceiling of stars. But this isn’t one of those wobbly wordless films with a bit of Beethoven playing in the background. Life of a Mountain meets the people who live around and work alongside Scafell Pike.
From Alison O’Neill, the shepherdess from the Howgills to Joss Naylor and his rickety indestructible knees, to researcher David Powell-Thompson and Eric Robson, names and faces are put to the fells and Wasdale Head, from where several of the routes to the top begin.
Two hours doesn’t seem much to explore a whole year. Abraham could have made an entire television series out of the material he presents here, but maybe that’s the strength. A few minutes of the starry sky sequence leaves you wanting more. And from Esk Pike the sight of a night time ascent of Scafell, just distant head torches scampering up and down the blackened rump of the mountain is just one of many eery and fascinating visual studies.
The film is on at Rheghed, near Penrith, up on the giant Imax screen. The next best thing would be to camp out on Bowfell for a year and see it all in real time. Thankfully, someone has already done that for us.
You can buy the DVD direct from Striding Edge