Tag Archives: Walks i

April is the cruellest month, supposedly. It is also the dryest.

8 May

The most remarkable thing about the past month apart from the extraordinary lockdown situation has been the glorious weather. The paths have changed from quagmires and paddy fields to hard, arid prairies.  Tracks that I have avoided since last autumn because I would be sliding around or getting soaked feet have become accessible again.

The official statistics for the month are now in and show that it was the sunniest April ever recorded and one of the dryest.  We have been keeping rainfall records since 2007 at home in Farnsfield and can give a more local perspective.  It was the fifth dryest of any month since we started recording figures, with 13.75mm of rain.  Until the rain came in the last three days it was actually on course to be easily the dryest month ever as only 1.5mm had fallen compared to the record of 9mm.  That record was from April 2013 and what is noticeable from the stats is how often April is dry.  Six of the top ten dryest months since 2007 have been in April.  (Incidentally the wettest month of all was April 2012, the exception that proves the rule).   

Apparently the explanation for this is that the south-westerly winds from the Atlantic which tend to produce a wetter climate are at their weakest at this time of year.  As the spring and summer progress the winds strengthen and the months gradually get wetter.

My own theories about our weather based purely on my intuition with a bit of science that I recall seeing is that we are getting longer spells of unchanging weather.  It seems to me that the incredibly settled April we just had, where the weather hardly changed for weeks, followed a pattern.  The winter just gone was one of the wettest ever seen where it seemed to rain consistently on many days.  There weren’t many huge totals on any one day but the accumulation over months were overwhelming.  The end of the winter saw a pattern of storms or near-storms coming in from the south-west every weekend for five weeks.  I had first noticed this trend a couple of years ago.  In June and July we had almost a month with no rain at all where every day seemed the same. In other recent years we have had periods with a “blocking pattern” of weather which doesn’t shift.  One idea about this is that the jet stream, which has a large role to play in our weather is getting, caught in blocking patterns because global warming is melting Arctic ice and changing the flow of the jet stream above it.

The April weather has opened up some paths again, as I said earlier.  In fact they are as dry now as they would normally be in high summer .  Two paths I often use to measure how wet things are underfoot are the ones through Combs Wood from Combs Lane to the south of Farnsfield.  The first path into Combs Wood if walking from Farnsfield is one going straight uphill by a hedge.  As the path enters the wood it gets narrow and for most of the winter is so muddy that you have to straddle the path and step carefully with one foot on either side of the mud.  After a normal winter it is dry enough to walk up comfortably by the middle of March but this year it wasn’t until early April.  Now it’s fine, as is the top of the hill on this path which has been quite badly churned up all winter.

The second path into the wood goes diagonally across a large field before entering the wood.  The path through the wood is one of the wettest in the area and is usually too wet to walk until summer.  Even then you often have to follow extra paths made alongside the main one that avoid the worst mud.  I have recently been through and it was as dry as I can remember it in April.  If you want to check out this attractive woodland path now is a good time.  It is on the Robin Hood Way route, incidentally, and I wrote a description of the Robin Hood Way from Farnsfield to Southwell which follows this path.