It is that time of year when we get to enjoy snow and ice natural navigation clues.
In the south of England there hasn’t been a lot of snow, but it doesn’t take a lot.
If you study the photos I took on Black Down in Sussex recently, you’ll see how sun, wind, snow, trees and gorse have combined to create a smorgasbord of natural navigation clues.
Before coming to these, can we please give a round of applause to gorse (ulex europaeus) for being in flower at this time of year! (The three main gorse species have complementary blooming times, so there aren’t many weeks in the year where there are no gorse flowers to be found. This leads to the old saying, ‘Gorse goes out of bloom, when kissing goes out of fashion.’)
Notice how the gorse bush has more snow on one side than the other.
This asymmetry is created by both sun and wind. The snow has blown in from the northwest overnight, coating that side of the bush with more snow than the other. The mid-morning sun has then thawed the southeastern side of the bush first.
The beady-eyed may have spotted how the flowers are oriented to point close to south too.
There is also snow plastered to the northwestern side of the trees only.