The View from Here: it doesn’t snow in Cornwall

The view from here was obliterated by a maelstrom of angry swirling snowflakes blurred into a blinding curtain.  It fell across the garden and the trees in the valley and very quickly the horizon was gone.

For a couple of weeks I had been musing on a nature/weather-related post based around the vagaries of the British weather.  We Brits do love to talk about our weather!

I would have noted that it’s been a bad year for snowdrops here

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but a prolific season for catkins.

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The primroses came early with the celandines and dandelions

and a wild rose, meadowsweet and the periwinkles seem to have arrived in the wrong season entirely.

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I was going to expound on the amount of rain and wind we’ve had since the year began – this being a road on one of my regular walking beats which fancied itself as a canal

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and round it off with an uplifting paragraph on how beautiful and life-affirming the bare trees feel when silhouetted against the sky, especially with the skylarks singing sweet and clear beyond my line of sight.

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I might have ended with reference to a blog post from the Met Office last month, which informed me that:

It is the 40th anniversary of the start of what was one of the worst blizzards to have affected the United Kingdom in the last 100 years. It affected South West England and south Wales for five days from 15th to 19th February 1978 before milder weather edged in bringing a general thaw.

And I might have admitted that I’ve been quietly hopeful that maybe, just maybe, whilst we live in these parts we might be lucky enough one year to see a sprinkling. Just a sprinkling, because I do know that really, it doesn’t snow in Cornwall.

The days passed.  I decided that the world would probably cope without my blog post.  10. snowflakeWe were away when I saw the headlines: CORNWALL SET FOR HEAVIEST SNOWFALL IN 40 YEARSOr words to that effect.  Along with a healthy dose of cynicism I wondered – if it did snow – whether we might actually miss it.  Stuck away from home, unable to return because of the snow.  That would have been a bitter pill.  Snow flurries chased us along the motorways as we left Kent until eventually we outran them.  We  returned to a snow-free Cornwall and a bitterly cold house and watched from afar as the Beast from the East dumped dollops of snow across most of the UK.

And then it arrived here.  How can I not record snow in my Corner of Cornwall?

The Met Office informs me that we haven’t quite matched the blizzards of 1978:

Snow accumulated to depths of about 60cm in places on Dartmoor and Exmoor and to 85cm at Nettlecombe (Bird’s Hill) in Somerset, but drifts of at least 6m were reported over a wide area which included Dorset and Wiltshire.

The exceptional weather cut communications and caused severe hardship, and although milder weather soon reached the south-west, several towns and villages were isolated by snowdrifts for some days and it was reported that there was still snow on the ground in early July.

But we certainly had more than a sprinkling and for an afternoon last week we had a blizzard.

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I do love snow.  I love the purity, the pristine stretches of smooth whiteness, the clarity of the light, the silence, the newness.  The first fall of the week gave a glimpse of what our snowy view might be like.

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The main fall on Thursday was too thick and fast to take decent photographs, though I did try.  The view from here was obliterated by a maelstrom of angry swirling snowflakes blurred into a blinding curtain.  It fell across the garden and the trees in the valley and very quickly the horizon was gone.  As darkness fell the flakes continued to tumble.

The Beast met Storm Emma.  Friday dawned grey and glowering and remained resolutely dark and gloomy all day.  Our 15cm of frozen crystals lay quietly.  No bright, clear light in cerulean open skies, reflected off pristine expanses of virgin snow.  No frosted sparkling icing on the branches, no joyful urge to get outside.  Not a vehicle moved.  The birds were mute.  The wind persisted.  With the wind chill, the real feel was registering as minus 11 and the light was thick and threatening.

This was a different experience of snow.  Oppressive, isolating, and touched with sadness at the lives lost, especially that of the little girl in neighbouring Looe.  Looe is a small, close-knit community.  Her death will be keenly felt.  My erstwhile delight at gazing on untrammelled snow has been tempered this year.

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Saturday – we woke to soft but persistent Cornish rain.  Meteorologically, we are now in spring.  It’s hard to remember that the spring equinox is less a fortnight away.  British Summer Time begins 3 weeks today and Easter falls one week after that.  It’s been so cold, and so dangerous outside that for the past little while we’ve been hibernating.  We’ve got sleepier and sleepier.  Gazing out on Saturday morning at the sullen grey skies and the dripping rain, with snow dribbling from the gutters, I felt the stirrings of despondency.  I’d been inside for too long.

The snow remained, receding with reluctance, but it had melted enough.  I needed to get out and I marched around the lanes.  Drifts of snow hunched against hedges and under trees, and white lines traversed fields, where animals have trodden regular pathways across the grass in warmer days and the snow has piled in the furrows.  The grass and the brambles were dank and drab.  Tussocks of sodden grass drooping: mud-brown and exhausted.  There was no sign of the meadowsweet and the daffodils were jaded and struggled to hold up their heads.    Everything seemed so very tired.  But the temperature had soared from minus 11 yesterday to a balmy 6 degrees today and it was still rising.  In the afternoon the sun broke through.  And a rainbow dangled its toes in the valley.

Sunday – the sun is warm and bright.  I walked today without hat or gloves for the first time this year.  My winter coat was much too hot.  The tiny daffodils are recovering their jaunty lustre; the snowdrops seem extra white as if washed by the snows, and the primroses have regained sufficient strength that their delicate blooms are again pointing skyward.  The heavens are a fathomless blue, feathered with streaks of soft fluffy white.  Somewhere up there as I pass, I hear the skylark, already singing again.

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Late afternoon and it’s raining heavily again.  Ah… the vagaries of the British weather.  Don’t we just love it!  And I can now say – with feeling – that I’ve seen snow in Cornwall.

10. snowflakeThe west of Cornwall had sunshine after the snow and there are some great snowy Cornish photos on these blogs for anyone who hasn’t yet had enough of the white stuff. 

Cornwall in the snow

When snow settled in Cornwall

The Met Office blog, from which the quotes are taken, is here

 

 

 

 

 

40 thoughts on “The View from Here: it doesn’t snow in Cornwall”

    1. Ha ha, so I had to translate etwas schuß – and google gave me ‘something shot’. Not sure that was quite what you meant, Jonathan 😉 But I do know what you did mean I think and you’re right. I do prefer posting something with added that makes it a little different and I will hold back quite often until I find an angle or a twist. Isn’t the subconscious a fascinating thing!

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  1. It has been a good year here for the snowdrops, but I wonder what they’ll look like when the snow recedes. I haven’t been out for five days, but it seems to be thawing a bit now. The east of Scotland generally gets quite a lot of snow but the worst snow I’ve experienced was when we lived in East Anglia for a couple of years in the early 1980s.

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    1. At that time we lived on top of the North Downs in Kent, Katrina, and we had a number of severe winters. The kids were tiny and they loved it, going to school by sledge!

      We’ve thawed completely down here now. I know it takes a lot longer in your neck of the woods. And I imagine you had a lot more snow than we did.

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  2. Sun? What’s that? I don’t think we have sun up here. We do however have over a foot of snow and this evening is the first time it’s showing any sign of shifting – not because it’s warmer, oh no, my frozen toes can attest to that! Because it’s raining. It’s incredible that a few hundred miles can make such a difference in climate. Hmm… you’re right, we DO like to talk about weather.

    A dreadful thing happened! My lovely young neighbours popped over in the middle of it all to make sure I was OK and to ask if I needed anything. I’ve obviously been officially declared one of those elderly neighbours we’re all supposed to look out for! I was gobsmacked – I managed to thank them though in reality I wanted to smack them upside the head… 😉

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    1. Ha ha ha!! You’re not the first person I’ve heard about who’s been gobsmacked by ‘helpful’ young neighbours! Sorry FF, but I’m going to chuckle about this all day. We both know you’re a mere slip of a girl really! 😉

      Seriously though, it’s always good to know that we can pull together when it counts, especially when we hear so often about the flipside. Sometimes it seems that society is just one mass of divisions. And at least you have neighbours! That said, we got a call last night from one of our ‘neighbours’. Jackson had only been out a few minutes and he was a-wandering again and had to be retrieved. Thank goodness they called us to ask if it was him. I dread to think where he’s going to go when the weather improves 😐

      Keep warm and dry!

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      1. I know – it actually was lovely of them and even though I’m barely into middle-age(!) when you live alone it’s quite reassuring to know your neighbours would be willing to help if there was a real emergency.

        Oh dear – sounds like he’s going to be a wandering boy. I had a cat, Trix, once who was a real wanderer – he used to disappear for days, sometimes weeks, at a time, worrying me sick, and then he’d just reappear one day, usually none the worse. I loved him, but I must admit I’m glad T&T prefer to stay close to home.

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      2. I believe strongly in giving him his freedom and it’s a cat’s paradise here. But oh, the worry! And the delightful presents he brings…. a very juicy mouse this morning! 😮

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  3. I was awash with ‘Cornish’ cold and snow, wet, white and gelid. What’s more, you have projected the inner landscape as an extension of the weather, blurring out the distinction of cause and effect. I am glad you put in a sliver of the blue sky, and a skylark somewhere up there too.

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    1. Thanks, Uma 🙂 I am one whose inner landscape is always affected by the outer landscape and frequently I wonder which comes first. Most certainly the inner landscape will impact on how one perceives the outer.

      It was lovely to hear the skylark so soon after the snow began to recede. It sang of hope, and renewal and spring days to come!

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  4. Lovely post. But you’re right. We have had all the seasons in under a week. Most unsettling for wild life, never mind us. A bit of wind to dry the mud would be very welcome now. Cabin fever strikes!

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  5. I didn’t realize that Cornwall never gets snow–you got a lifetime’s worth in one go with this storm! You did a very effective job of describing the feelings that can be evoked by snow and winter–and that not all snow is created equal. The storm you got, with loss of life and genuine hardship, isn’t at all the same as the romanticized flurries we envision!

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    1. You are only too familiar with snow where you are Kerry. It is very rare in Cornwall – the last snow was in 2010 apparently and presumably not very much. We are basically damp and cool here – generally not at either end of the spectrum winter or summer. For a lot of people, especially those living in the western tip of the county, this was their first ‘real’ snow!

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  6. It’s been quite a few days, hasn’t it (British understatement of course…). Also very British is our delight in constantly discussing the weather, so your post is perfect! 🙂

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      1. lol! we’ve had more flurries here today, but everything has gone from being very beautiful to sludgy and grey. It was nice for a while, but I’m ready for spring now! 🌱🌷

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  7. Up in even less sunny Scotland we still have snowdrops and a few crocuses but nothing else. A few daffodils are peeking up but not blossomed yet. We don’t have lambs out either. It would probably be too cruel!

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    1. Well, it’s snowing again right now. And out walking this morning I was delighted by 4 baby ducklings. I hope they survive this cold snap. Hopefully it will be short lived.

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  8. We were also clobbered by the Beast and Emma. My youngest daughter had spent the weekend in Cardiff and came to us on the Tuesday, planning to travel back to London on Thursday…no chance! I agree that snow is wonderful and magical but I really wish it would go away now! Beautiful photographs, Sandra x

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    1. I’m sure you were clobbered much harder than we were, Helen. We’re watching the latest snow falling right this moment. Very beautiful. But really? In Cornwall? Quite ready for “proper” spring now!

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  9. Beautiful pictures – the West Country is always further ahead than Staffordshire (even with the snow). My elder daughter lives just across the border into Devon, and there are always glorious banks of primroses.

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    1. The primroses have suffered in the snow but they bounce back so quickly. The daffodils on the other hand, still seem bowed and downcast today after their third bout of snow this past weekend. I suspect Cornish daffs are less resilient than elsewhere in the country. They’re just not used to it!

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