Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Gathering shadows

 Gathering shadows at dusk
impressions of the Southwest Peak

Over the cold, wet reach of last winter, I was working with friends from Telltale to prepare an interpretive plan for the Southwest Peak Landscape Partnership. The Partnership encompasses a sweep of land along the western edge of the Peak District from the Dale of Goyt, down to the hollows of Macclesfield Forest, up to the drags of the Roaches and out over the Warslow Moors. It is a wild, varied and rich landscape that often seems a little forgotten compared to the honeypots of Dovedale, Castleton and Kinder Scout and their hordes of visitors. Climbers clamber over the Roaches, walkers follow ancient footpaths, witches gather on hilltops and by deep still pools, and casual visitors picnic all over the place. The Roaches also hold Lud’s Church about which I ramble without any provocation at all. So I won’t here.

Part of my role in the project was to work with residents and users of the area to gather a more emotional map of the area rather than a sensible map of what and where and how. So we met and talked, told stories to each other, remembered and shared memories and gathered ideas into a series of poems

There are 4 poems. I will post two now and two more shortly. I hope you enjoy them

Ramshaw Rocks brood over the road,
Remembering ancient seas,
And a river runs cool under Three Shires Head,
On a hot summer day,
Music, laughter,
The voices of a village.

Open space on the moors,
Picking bilberries,
The ancient woods
Below the Roaches,
On the last day of summer,
The heather lies purple on Hen Cloud.

Crisp snow
Gathers shadows at dusk,
The aurora glows across the sky,
The Roaches slip into space and quiet,
Sometimes the mist fills the valleys and the hills look like islands.

Cotton grass blows on the moors,
Dandelions burn the fields yellow,
The last hay meadows fill with flowers,
With bees, with butterflies.
With the rain,
The fields slip into mud,
Water on shale soils puddles into,
A haven for rushes,
Always more to explore, here.

A picnic on the grass overlooking the valley,
Connects with other times, other picnics,
A pause in the cutting,
Hay banked up on Whitelow meadow.
Children have run down to the river,
For centuries,
Families, friends,
On the grass overlooking the valley,
Again, and again,
A picnic over centuries,
A long living in these dales,
Under the moors and the bogs and the ridges.

Hen Cloud, Windgather, Goyt
There is always more to explore,
Pilbsury Castle in the moonlight,
Always more to hold us here,
A barn owl flies in the dusk,      
Little owls, deer
The secret lives of the moorlands.
Always more to love here,
The warmth of a form where a hare was lying
And the voice of the curlew heralds the spring.

With thanks to our poets, to Telltale and to SWP Landscape Partnership!

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