There is always at the beginning of the month an unwonted silence on the fells, for from the first week to the third week the flocks will be being brought down to the valley farm and home-‘intakes’ for clipping, and though the absence from the fells may not exceed three or four days at most, the wanderer may chance to roam a whole mountainside deserted, and passing from one fell to another may find the shearing time follow him. And yet both for absence of flowers, bird song, and sheep life, July has its compensations. (pp. 94-95)
Who that has seen the foxglove’s glory in the first week of July can ever forget it, and who in the middle of the month, wandering on bye-lanes sweet with the elder-flower in June, or hedgerows so lately filled with wild roses, does not feel the honey-suckle riot makes atonement for his loss, and that the meadow-sweet has a message for his heart. At the end of the month the harebell begins to show its delicate cluster by the roadside; all through the month in some parts of the Lakes the saxifrage crowns the walls with gold, and the yellow ragwort carries on the gleam, whilst the lakes and tarns set the wild lilies floating, and the little purple-white lobelia shows its tender flag above the water. (p. 95)
But the flower par excellence on the hills is the cross-leaved bell-heather. Suddenly the flanks of Skiddaw or any of the southern fronts of the hills are seen to flush into rose-red, and the village children, who go with their bilberry cans to the heights, can scarce be content to stay in these happy hunting grounds of black fruitage and emerald leaf, but must needs wander away to fill their arms with the glorious purple heath. All through the month the wonder grows, and ere its beauty has died away, the heather proper, or as we call it hereabout, the ling, will have purpled the uplands, and we shall have forgotten the wonder of the July flush in the marvel of this multitudinous fell-flower and the miracle of August’s colouring. (pp. 95-96)….
If one is asked what is the peculiar beauty of July, one replies the effects of sunlight on the fells at eventide. There is then, owing to the green richness from base to sky-line, a sense of prodigal life and fertility which ’neath the westering sun loses its heaviness of tone, and the white flocks sparkle on the mountain’s breast, and the deep lilac shadows grow and move. Out of the golden west the clanging rookery passes overhead, the black-headed gull laughs in the silence as it ranges the fellside or meadow for the evening moth and winged creatures of the dusk, and a solitary lamb bleats from the crag; all else is hushed and still. Then colour goes out of the soft green drapery of the mountain sides,—the vast curtain hung from middle heaven, and one feels the July gloaming has come. Suddenly the tapestry of the hills is filled with light, the shadows reappear, the grey shales burn into gold and purple red, and a new heaven and a new earth seems given unto men. The faint mist-wreath upon Helvellyn flashes into pink, and far away at the zenith, like a flight of flamingos, tiny cloudlets sail with rosy wings. The loveliest half-hour of the long day in July is the half-hour of afterglow; and happy the man who finds himself upon our lakeland fells with prospect to the north and west when evening falls. (pp. 101-102)
But let not the wanderer think that dawn has less of wonder, less of soul. To walk and see the long lake shine like a mirror while all the woods and hills stand clear reflected, to feel the fragrance of the hay, as the dew rises, filling the air, to watch the fresh-fledged martins try their wings in the last week of bright July, to rove before the village is awake the ferny heights of such a fell as Loughrigg Fell, or to wander along the white road by the lake side before it is plagued with dust of motor or loud with tootling horn, all this is the gift of a July dawn—and blessed are they who receive it thankfully. (pp. 102-103)
There is magic and a sense of second youth about these July mornings, and though the month has lost its crown of flowers and its chorus of song, there are few hearts that pass by dale and hill in middle month at early morn who do not feel, as they gaze across the emerald meadows whence the hay has been shorn—a hint of fairyland, and the witchery of some Orphic power that here “has made a second Spring.” (p. 103)
(Months at the Lakes, pp. 94-103)