Category Archives: Art and architecture.



 Eden Benchmarks are a series of ten contemporary stone sculptures located at intervals along the length of the river Eden between its source above the Mallerstang valley and Rockliffe, north of Carlisle, where it runs into the Solway Firth.
 “Each sculptor worked in residence for six weeks and this enabled them to formulate their ideas by familiarising themselves with the locations and talking with local people, including schools, who were encouraged to visit their workshops to see the sculptures taking shape. The artists’ brief allowed as much creative freedom as possible to produce site-specific sculpture, which harmonises with the landscape and captures the essence of each unique locality.
 Collectively the sculptures give visual expression to our awareness of the river’s ecology and the need to look after it; individually they foster a profound sense of place, their capacity as seats accommodating an interactive focus for quiet reflection.”

These sculptures were funded and commissioned by the East Cumbria Countryside Project group in 1996. It disbanded in 2008 when funding dried up, but the sculptures are still there even if not officially cared for.

I have already discovered the first two in the last couple of days, ‘WATER CUT’ in Mallerstang and ‘PASSAGE’ in Stenkrith Park, Kirkby Stephen. Today I intended to visit as many of the remaining eight before I ran out of daylight. It would mean more driving than walking, I had plotted a route down the Eden between all the village sites. The satnav on my new phone proved invaluable.


I’d enjoyed my two nights at the Black Bull in Nateby and they sent me off with a hearty breakfast, I didn’t eat again until I was back home in the evening. I stopped briefly in Kirby Stephen to take that photo of Lady Anne Clifford’s statue which I used yesterday. I noticed this seat with its friendly notice, I didn’t have time for chatting but what a good idea. As the benchmarks have all been sculptured to provide a seat to sit and contemplate this was a good start to the day.P1010658

A mad dash up the scary A66 and I was taking the road into Appleby. A little side lane, Bongate, lead down to an old ford over the Eden by a derelict mill and a small carpark. At the edge of the carpark was a rough looking boulder – could this be the benchmark? It was only when I walked around the other side of it that I could see fully the carved flower. I brushed the leaves aside and sat in it for awhile watching the river flow by. Stunning.

‘THE PRIMROSE STONE’ by Joss Smith at Bongate near Appleby.

Shaped from a nine ton block of St Bees Sandstone, the Primrose Stone magnifies the ‘inscape’ of the much loved first rose of spring. As you approach the sculpture from behind it looks like a rough erratic boulder and the carved petals of the flower at the front come as a surprise. It envelops the sitter in a bowl shape that is positively seductive and, like a primeval satellite dish, amplifies the sights, sounds and smells of the river”.

 Joss Smith lives in London. His work is mainly studio based and traditionally figurative but has recently been making accessible sculptures for public places.



 I needed more time to explore Appleby but I was soon on the way farther north. I found a bit of roadside parking by the cricket pitch on the outskirts of Temple Sowerby and strode across muddy fields towards the river. You can see the state of the ground after all the heavy rain. The sculpture came as a surprise with the spheres scattered over the surface ripples. There was a distinct feeling of motion as the spheres ran into the river. I loved the ripple effects she had created around each grain.

‘Red River’ by Victoria Brailsford at Temple Sowerby.

“The stepped slabs of Lazonby Sandstone in this sculpture represent the contours of the landscape and its light, shade, pattern, shape and form. The spheres, reminiscent of gigantic pebbles in a fast moving stream, are a powerful evocation of the river and its energy but also, like hugely enlarged grains of sand, recall the origins of sandstone in the shifting sand dunes of Triassic Cumbria”

 Victoria Brailsford’s  work relates to ecological issues and ranges from charcoal drawings to wood carving and large stone sculptures. P1010107P1010110P1010117P1010116P1010140P1010120


 Back across the boggy fields and reset the satnav for Edenhall, a tiny red sandstone hamlet across the river from Langwathby. I park in a small pull off and ask the couple on the adjoining garden if I’m OK there. They don’t see many strangers in the village and I explain my mission. They are proud of their nearby Benchmark and regale me with their favourites, they haven’t made it to the Water Cut in Mallerstang as yet. I leave them to their pond maintenance and walk down the lane towards the squat red sandstone C12th church. I turn off at the wheel headed cross, the base looks ancient but the shaft as is often the case much more modern, There used to be a manor house down here which explains the churches isolated position surrounded by parkland. It also explains the name of the river bank walk I was about to set of along – The Ladies Walk. Built for the manor house occupants, a level path above the river with old iron railings and stone seats at intervals, fit for a lady. Not sure how far along I would have to go, met a bloke walking the other way but he knew nothing of Benchmarks. Up some steps and there is the sculpture. Two curved pieces of red sandstone in juxtaposition. They have graceful curving lines and wonderfully detailed surface rippling. The low lying one is being gradually covered by green moss and for a moment I think of cleaning it to reveal the detail, but I stop myself in time. These sculptures were specifically envisaged to reflect the landscape and now I feel they are slowly becoming part of it. That is probably hidden praise for the sculptor’s skill in the first place. I was warned that the ongoing path was flooded so I turned tail  and followed the  ladies alongside the ever enlarging river.

‘South Rising’ by Vivien Mousdell on Ladies Walk at Edenhall.

“Made from Lazonby Sandstone, ‘South Rising’ pays tribute to a vigorous ecosystem, representing the river’s perpetual journey and the annually recurring movements of migrating fish and birds. The horizontal stone alludes to the river itself, flowing north, and the tall vertical stone, with perhaps a passing resemblance to Long Meg, inclines south toward the rivers distant source. Chiselled with a surface texture reminiscent of water reflected sunlight, both stones have been carved in sweeping curves like the surrounding landscape, creating a rhythmic energy passing from one to the other”

 Vivien Mousdell trained in ceramics but switched to wood and stone carving and letter cutting. A skilled and versatile artist she has specialised in public commissions such as the stone boundary markers on the Cleveland Way and a variety of wood carvings on the Whitehaven to Ennerdale cycle path. She is also a puppet maker and performer and video artist. Some people are just so talented.

P1010717  P1010674





 Straight up little lanes in picturesque scenery, through Great Salkeld, I need to visit Long Meg and her Daughters on the other side of the river some day. Down there by the river are Lacy’s caves, chambers carved into the soft sandstone, which I distinctly remember from my Eden Way walk all those years ago. There was also an excellent climbing crag which is unfortunately now banned. Public footpaths and access are at a premium along this stretch which is a disgrace. The Settle-Carlisle line comes through the middle of Lazonby, I duck under it and head for the riverside picnic area. The Eden is in full flow. In rather drab surroundings the next benchmark lies low in the grass, can you spot it? P1010747P1010724

This one really is becoming organic. Moss is taking over and obscuring most of the stones’  cyphers. I see the sun or is it moon at one end and that’s about it. I do like the view up to the graceful bridge though.

‘Cypher Piece’ by Frances Pelly at Lazonby.

“The sculptor presents us with a series of puzzles to be decoded. The combined stones mimic the river landscape and contain various references to human history. A sun and moon have been carved at one end of the sculpture representing the winter solstice and a variety of images are portrayed elsewhere, including a fish, a Roman 1996, a Celtic horses head’ a rams horn and decorations taken from a Norse tomb”

 Frances Pelly lives in Orkney. As well as carving stone she also works in bronze.  P1010738P1010732P1010733P1010740


 Where next? A short drive along the valley to another delightful village, Armathwaite. This a spot I know well having climbed on the riverside crags many happy times. I parked at the bridge and walked through the grounds of the Fox and Pheasant and up into Coombe Woods on a carpet of leaves until quite high above the river and the crags. The path leveled out and there was the carved block in a ring of smaller stones. I could easily pick out the intricate carvings of discarded clothing from the bloke who has gone for a swim. What an imagination, the sculptor’s not mine. I found a lower way back closer to the roaring river. A magic stretch of water.

‘Vista’ by Graeme Mitcheson in Coombs Wood near Armathwaite.

“A solitary walker reaches a plateau in Coombs Wood where beneath him, between the trees, he can see the winding river Eden. Nine stones form an ellipse in clearing. It is a hot day and he removes his clothes and goes for a swim. This sculpture is about walking in the countryside and being at one with nature. The largest of the stones is carved with representations of various items of clothing and a map, which also functions as a sundial. A tiny face depicted on the cap is reference to a series of faces carved on the cliffs below in 1885 by William Mounsey who famously walked the length of the Eden”

 Graeme Mitcheson  lives in Derbyshire. His work is based in traditional stone masonry and he turns his hand to everything from commissions for bird baths and garden ornaments to architectural restoration and memorials.





 An easy drive and I was parked on the village green at Wetheral near the church. It was just after one o’clock and for the first time I thought I might make the Solway today. A steep little lane took me down to the river and there was the next sculpture on a flat piece of land. This was a large affair, a bench with angels’ wings, cushions and arched panels reflecting the nearby bridge.

‘Flight of Fancy’ by Tim Shutter at Wetheral.

“The steep scale of the wooded bank across the river and the soaring viaduct combine to give the feeling of an outdoor cathedral. ‘Flight of Fancy’ plays with this ecclesiastical sense of lifting the spirit with angel’s wings, church style masonry and very convincingly carved prayer cushions”

 Tim Shutter is a master stone mason in the classical tradition. He is based in London.




Back on the village green I became distracted by some tiny yellow fungi hidden in the grass -possibly Golden Waxcaps? There’s beauty in the minutiae too. P1010844


 I was apprehensive of my detour into the centre of Carlisle for my penultimate benchmark. I new there was some parking near the castle so I asked my phone to take me there. It was clever enough to warn me that “the castle may be close today” Despite the heavy traffic delays I eventually arrived in the car park but couldn’t understand how to operate the pay machine. Two ladies took pity on me and as they had just finished their shopping spree gave me there still in time ticket. I felt the day was slipping away with these delays. P1010850

I walked towards the river only to find another car park without charges, the dog walkers used this one. Somehow rivers either bring a city to life or become subjugated into the background. The river Eden in Carlisle is of the latter character – lost between rail, roads and industrial sites or maybe it was the dullness of the afternoon that prejudiced me. The four stones were set in a line in the parkland alongside the river. Strange angular carvings which didn’t relate easily to me, erosion usually produces smoother features. OK they are smooth on one side but I find the other angles jarring.

‘Toward the Sea’ by Hideo Furuta in Bitts Park at Carlisle.

“The four components of this sculpture are manifestations of the sculptor’s intense and mathematical explorations of the stone itself and, almost incidentally, describe a sequence of water eroded stone running parallel with the flow of the river nearby”

 Hideo Furuta sadly died in 2007 aged 57. He was an artist of international standing and was based at a granite quarry  in Dumfries and Galloway. P1010853P1010861P1010862


 Maybe I was a bit harsh about Carlisle as I know from my trip on the Hadrian Wall path that the Eden is in magnificent form either side of the city. Anyhow I was pleased to find an easy way out of the city to my last destination, the village of Rockcliffe on the Eden before it slips into the Solway.

The clock had turned three and the light was fading and I couldn’t find anywhere to park. I eventually used the carpark of a nearby pub and walked on down past the church to a little red cliffed bay area next to the river. Flood debris showed that it is often underwater. At the end I could see my final benchmark and thankfully it was a thing of beauty reminding me bizarrely of the amoebae I used to study under the microscope. How does the sculptor achieve such smoothness and shapes out of a block of sandstone? My only thought is that it could have been positioned closer to the Solway estuary itself but there may have been practical reasons against that. Here I saw the river slipping around the corner into that unseen estuary. I found a place to sit inside it and watched the sun fading in the greyness over the flat marshlands.

‘Global Warming’ by Anthony Turner at Rockcliffe.

“The title of this sculpture is indicative of its global perspective. Situated where the river Eden flows out to sea there is an expanding awareness of the wider world. It could simply be a huge sea creature washed onto the shore but it conveys the sense of an even bigger scale. There is a mysterious pregnant silence about it and it resembles a planet earth held carefully in a hand. The term global warming is now ominously synonymous with the world overheating yet we would like it to mean a nurturing, life enhancing glow”

 Anthony Turner was born in Kenya. A self taught painter and sculptor.  Recalling his childhood in Africa his sculptures are organic, exotic and sensual.



 What a journey. I didn’t expect to reach all the Benchmarks today but time just seemed to flow for me. You must admit these sculptures are so impressive and yet so diverse. At each one I felt a strong connection with the artist, the stone and the setting. It is too late for me to rewalk the Eden Way but wouldn’t that be a finer way to appreciate the river and take in these works of art.

I’m back home after an easy motorway journey from Carlisle and preparing to visit my cousin and her husband down in Derbyshire. In the past I have shared walks with him but now he has advanced dementia and is bed bound.  Maybe I’ll show him some pictures of the River Eden.



Time to head into the hills. After a good breakfast I  was ready to be away fairly early from the pub. Interestingly the garage opposite had more farmers’ quad bikes in for servicing than cars. P1010656



It was a short drive up the valley into Mallerstang proper. On the way I passed the ruins of Pendragon Castle. The early morning light was so clear that I made a quick photographic stop in case things were murkier when I returned, it starts getting dark between three and four.

There is a lot of legend associated with the castle. it was supposedly built by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur. It is said he tried to divert the river to form a moat.

A well known local couplet goes –

    Let Uther Pendragon do what he can,                                                                                                     Eden will run where Eden ran.

 The castle was built during the reign of King Rufus in the 12th century by Ranulph de Meschines,  After attacks by Scottish raiders in 1541 it became uninhabitable until the C17th when Lady Anne Clifford inherited it. She rebuilt it and added to it in 1660. It remained one of the favourites among her many castles until her death in 1676 at the age of 86. She spent her time between Skipton Castle and here in Westmorland  becoming involved with local affairs and restoring several nearby churches. A long distance walk tracing her travels passes this way. There is a statue of her in Kirkby Stephen market place. P1010666

 Her successor, the Earl of Thanet, had no use for the castle and removed anything of value from it, By the 1770s much of the building had collapsed. It now stands as a romantic ruin with pointy Wild Boar Fell in the background. P1010185P1010188P1010189

Whilst wandering around the ruins I was treated to a flypast by a Lockheed Hercules. P1010205

I drove through Outhgill which I visited yesterday and parked up at The Thrang for a walk I had picked off the net. It would take me up to the first Eden Benchmark, Water Cut – before visiting Hell Gill and its waterfalls, and then wandering back past valley farms.P1010209

Quite a broad track headed away from the valley floor, an old bridleway to Hawes at the head of Wensleydale. All the rivulets coming down from Mallerstang Edge were in full flow and my feet were wet after the first ford crossing. P1010224P1010221

That dot on the horizon turned out to be the benchmark in its very prominent position – how come I have never spotted it before? After some steady walking and a few more fords it was reached at about 420m. P1010225



Water Cut by Mary Bourne. 1996. 

Water Cut is located a few miles from the source of the river Eden, high up on the eastern side of the Mallerstang valley. Like a huge milestone, it stands alongside the ancient green road known as Lady Anne Clifford’s Way. The space carved between the two vertical pillars creates the shape of a meandering river in the sky and provides a ‘window’ onto the real river in the valley below. It also symbolises the power of the river Eden cutting through the rock on its journey through East Cumbria and our own human journeys through the rural landscape and through life. Made from Salterwath Limestone, taken from a quarry near Shap, it also resembles the gate posts and stiles in drystone walls, which are so characteristic of the area, whilst it’s outer curve makes reference to the viaduct arches on the nearby Settle-Carlisle railway.”

Mary Bourne is an accomplished stone carver,  living in the North East Scotland. Her work explores forms of the landscape and her relationship with the natural environment.

I played about with various camera angles. The more I looked they resembled two salmon leaping, are there salmon in the Eden?




From up here one has good views north along Mallerstang Edge and across the valley to Wild Boar Fell. The limestone lower layers contrasting with the overlying gritstone.

Not much farther I came to Hell Gill, I could hear it well before I reached the bridge over it. A deep rift in the limestone tearing down the hillside with thrashing waters in its depths. This was dramatic. I tried to get views down into the canyon but it was sensibly well fenced off. All was green mossy and ferny, I think there are fairies down there. P1010346P1010352P1010366P1010372P1010377P1010388P1010398P1010401

The water tumbled on down the hillside and I followed. It came to a welcome rest at a ford. P1010409P1010418P1010422P1010424P1010433

But what was that noise? A small steep detour and I could see the next and probably the best cataract. A video should have been taken. P1010440P1010451


My boots were under water crossing the fast flowing ford.  P1010462

It must be all downhill from here but the next few miles tried my patience. I was basking in the beauty of Mallerstang and yet struggling to find the bridleway marked on the map on the ground. There was a lot more rough walking to come. It tended to keep above the top intake wall and hence involved tussocky grass and boggy areas. Few people use this way. P1010464P1010480P1010513P1010533

There were a few more waterfalls to admire and the light on the other side of the valley was beautiful. No steam on the Settle to Carlisle today.P1010550P1010472P1010477P1010466

Eventually I made my way to the valley bottom and along by the Eden back to my car just as the sun was going down behind Wild Boar Fell.P1010539P1010565P1010572P1010579


I would highly recommend this walk, it packs a lot into those 6 miles without going onto the tops. I never saw another person.

Mallerstang-trail.pdf (





 Twelve short poems, interpreting the hill farmer’s life throughout the year, written by Meg Peacocke, have been carved by lettering artist Pip Hall (0f Stanza Poems fame) on blocks of stone on a circular walk either side of the river Eden just outside Kirkby Stephen. Each stone also has an engraving depicting the month’s theme.  There was a handy car park at Stenkrith Bridge as this is also the start of another walk on the old rail track over three viaducts.  I was amazed at the flow of water through the little gorge below the bridge, a hidden thundering cataract. A little metal bridge took me over the water into the park.P1000777P1010052P1000791P1000785
 Alongside the path in the trees the first of the poems, well actually it was the ninth, October (Sheep Sales) as I had come into the trail half way round. Two stones, one of sandstone and the other Limestone. It was just possible to make out the poem.
 Sandstone. A desert wind, grain by grain, laid down these rocks. How did we trace a path through ancient dunes?
 Limestone. A million blanched and compacted shells. How did we swim through the drift and not perish?
P1000797 P1000800P1000802
 The next poem, November (Tupping Time) was on a pair of upright stone slabs, again at the edge of the woods next to some spectacular rapids in the Eden.
 Through hazels and alders, softly or in spate, Eden moves in the valley it has hallowed  from Mallerstang to the shifting Solway sands.
 I diverted from the poetry Path to try and find my first Eden Benchmark which was described after two of the poems. I could find no sign of it alongside the river and wondered whether it could have been washed away in the frequent floods. I was not entirely sure what I was looking for so I gave up and headed across the fields to the next poem, a Haiku.  December (Tree Planting)  I found them lying flat in the field.
  There sails the heron  drawing behind him  a long wake of solitude.P1000838P1000841
 Next to Swingy Bridge was an upright stone commencing the year in January (Hedge Laying)
 The sky’s harsh crystal, wind a blade, trees stripped, grass dull with cold. Life is a kernel hidden in the stone of winter.




A close up of the hedge laying motif showing how difficult they were to pick out.

 Having crossed the Eden I now followed an old sunken path through the woods on the other bank.
February’s (Cattle brought in for winter) poem was a stark tower of four blocks.
 Snowlight peers at the byre door. Neither day nor night, Four months ago we fetched the cattle in, safe from reiving wind and rain, months of standing shifting, burdened with patience. When will winter end?
Thin strakes of run on the byre door. Fork a load of silage out, straighten your back to watch them shove their muzzles in, and wonder if they crave the hazy nights when they can roam among tall summer grasses, sleek and sound and warm.  P1000862P1000877
 The path crossed a small but lively stream and the March (Walling) poem’s block was in the water itself. Apparently when they were deciding where to place this stone it slipped from its cradle but landed perfectly in the water.
 From field and fell run cols run small. I am the rain tear in the eye blood in the vein I am the sea.  
 April (Lambing) was built into the stone wall on the right. If the stone was already in the wall, which I assume it was, it is a sign of the walls antiquity.
 Coltsfoot, celandine, earliest daisies. Twin lambs race to the mother, baby cries, Mam! Mam! Jolt out of them and now they jostle the ragged ewe, boosting each split hoof high off the bitten turf. Pinching jaws and hard curled coats are braced against these April suns and sleets.  P1000904P1000908
 Farther on just before a bridge over the old railway line and again built into a wall was the larger May (Paling) poem. Another piece of ancient wall. Look at those lovely lichens growing on the rock.
 Penned in a huddle, the great tups are clints of panting stone. The shepherd lifts a sideways glance from the labour of dagging tails. His hands are seamed with muck and sweat runs into his eyes. Above us, a plane has needled the clear blue.  P1000914P1000915P1000917
 After the bridge June (Gathering and marking sheep) was found in the undergrowth on the right. The two blocks look as though they have come out of a mill floor.
 Light drops like honey from branch to branch. Elders balance their dishes of cream, while fledglings try small quivery leaps, testing buoyancy of the air.  P1000926P1000929P1000927
 I followed the path down to join the track of the old railway, part of the longer viaducts walk. July (Haymaking and silage) was soon encountered, a large rough block of limestone there on the left.
 Silage. Tractor incises the first green furrow. Skilful geometrician, the driver judges an arc of weather. P1000938P1000940P1000941P1000946
Farther along August’s (Showing sheep at shows) poem is semi hidden in the trees to the right. A large weathering sandstone block with a white patina of lichens encroaching on the lettering.
 Crabapples tart on the tongue, Hazelnuts milky, Rosehips cool in the hand, Thistledown silky.  Squirrel is speaking his mind.
Knapweed purples the banks.
For touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing I give thanks.”
 The last poem on my circuit was September (Farmer’s markets) a block of shaped red sandstone maybe reflecting the railway’s past. The bold lettering adding to the effect.
 Revetted banks, a concrete post. Rabbits tunnel the cinder waste. Angle iron, link of broken chain. Listen, and catch the hiss of steam again. P1000982P1000989
I have transcribed the poems above as photographs don’t show them clear enough. As well as the poems, motifs reflecting the subjects were inscribed on the stones, I found it virtually impossible to make these out which is a shame but sculptures on natural rock exposed to the elements will suffer from corrosion. I really enjoyed this little walk, a great idea to highlight the area. The stones were well chosen and positioned. Meg’s poetic lines are to the point and very evocative – make sure you read them.
 I was back where I started, but smarting from not finding that benchmark, I rechecked  on my phone, ‘pocket computer’, It seemed to suggest it was after the first two poetry stones and gave a grid reference. But people often quote misread grid refences. Lets look again. I delved deeper into the undergrowth by the river after the second poetry stone and found nothing, the grid refence I was getting was different from the publicised one. I then followed my phone to the given grid reference and there stumbled upon the installation It was close to the river hidden by undergrowth, nearby the first poem which being composed of two stones could have caused the confusion.
 This, the second Benchmark down stream on the Eden was called ‘Passage’ by Laura White
Evocative of the river’s passage through the gorge under Stenkrith Bridge, this sculpture is subtle and unobtrusive but exudes an inner strength that somehow gathers the special ambience of its location. The shapes carved into the stone are clearly derived from the shapes in the river bed rocks but have been refined to activate and compliment the space and provide a focal point for contemplation”  
 Laura White’s early work with stone explored organic themes but more recently she has used mixed media and video images. She lives in London and teaches at Goldsmiths College in London and Manchester Metropolitan University.
 Ah well, at least I found it. The stones were rather lost in the vegetation and are slowly naturally mossing over, not many people visit them or perhaps can’t find them. Whatever, it was a good excuse to spend some more time alongside the lively Eden and on the breccia bedrock. 
Tomorrow I will head to the hills for the first of the Eden Benchmarks. 


“People also leave presence in a place even when they are no longer there” 
 Andy Goldsworthy.
 I had two objectives today – The Poetry Path in Kirkby Stephen and Andy Goldsworthy’s six Pinfold Cones, from early this century, scattered around the area. As the day progresses an Eden Benchmark crept into my itinerary. It became a bit of a whirlwind day. Just warning you, in fact I have just decided to remove the poetry to another post.
It is difficult to write a post when all of you six subjects, in this case Pinfold Cones. are the virtually identical. 
  A fairly early start and I found myself driving narrow lanes in the mist. This is limestone country. Through the village of Orton and onwards to Crosby Ravensworth to try and find my first pinfold. This was easy as it was next to the main street at the south end of the scattered village. A small square pinfold with one of Andy Goldsworthy’s stone cones in the centre. The cone shape is said to have been influenced by the Nine Standards Rigg above Kirkby Stephen. He has used it in installations in many places. He talks of the cone shape being warm and enveloping, a source of hope and also protection. They focus our attention on the environment and the history of man’s influences upon it.
 This cone is made from local limestone, looking quite black in this damp morning. The Pinfolds will have been around for a long time, a pen used for stray animals before they could be reunited with their owners. We have a good example on the outskirts of Longridge. I have found some reference for Goldsworthy’s pinfolds being rebuilt on the  original sites, there doesn’t seem to be any documentation for each one. I must assume at least that it will now guarantee their survival.P1000674
 Back in Orton I stopped for a coffee in Kennedy’s Fine Chocolate shop. Maybe I should have stocked up on luxury Christmas presents, but I didn’t. Across the street is The George Hotel, we ended up there one afternoon after climbing at nearby Jackdaw Scar, Kings Meaburn, a crag where you start on a sandstone lower wall which morphs into limestone as you progress. The geology of this whole area is fascinating and one learns a lot from climbing on its cliffs. The bar staff had had a busy Sunday lunchtime and were wanting to rest before the evening’s trade. Being officially open, they happily accommodated us though, by locking us into one of the bars at the back with orders not to let anybody else in. We sipped our supplies of beer and played pool for an hour or so. P1000687P1000689
 I drove through the village of Raisbeck without realising and ended up on a single track road going nowhere. I had to backtrack and found the next Pinfold, a larger square with a gated entrance hidden away in the trees, the clue being Pinfold Bridge shown on the map. Another limestone construction. Judging by the vegetation few people bother to search it out. P1000696P1000698P1000703
 Not wanting to face that narrow lane again I retraced my way back through the few houses that make up Raisbeck. Something caught my eye as I passed a small building. Stopping for a closer look it turned out to be an old school house. The Dame School was built in 1780 by farmers of Raisbeck and repaired in 1857, probably closed by 1900. Dame schools were for young children of poor families providing only a basic education.  By the 1970s the old school building was in a bad condition. A poet named Michael Ffinch and local supporters fought to have it designated and restored. 
 The notice on the door said “COME IN”. There was a room downstairs with a fireplace and wooden floored room upstairs. There wouldn’t have been space for many children. How good that it has free access without any obvious funding. Ffinch wrote a poem about it and I wished I had photographed it in the room because I can’t find it now.
Outside was an unusual stone picnic table and 2 stone ‘flower beds’ one celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the other Charles coronation. They are quick off the mark up here.P1000717P1000732P1000739P1000758
  There was still mist about on the hills as I drove down to Kirkby Stephen. P1000767P1000770
 My next stop just outside Kirkby Stephen – The Poetry Path. But I am leaving that for a separate post.
 The day was still young or so I thought and therefore I decided to drive to find more Goldsworthy Pinfolds which were easily accessible by road in the area north of Kirkby Stephen. 
 I drove the short distance to Church Brough and parked under the shadow of the castle at the primary school. There was the circular Pinfold with its Cone – but slap bang in the middle of the school’s play field. I hesitated taking any photo of  this one due to its proximity to the school. P1010667
 Up the fast and furious A66 to Warcop. All around are military training grounds with lots of warning signs. In fact as I got out of the car distant artillery bursts were audible. The little square pinfold was a haven of peace. We are now in sandstone country.
 Farther up the A66 past Appleby I took to those narrow country lanes again to the small village of Bolton. The pinfold was easy to find right next to the road. New housing is going up all around and it is good that the Pinfold survived even though it is somewhat hemmed in. Not as sympathetic to the environment as Goldsworthy would have liked..P1010101P1010098
 Driving back to Kirkby Stephen there is still light enough to carry on to Outhgill, higher up the Eden at the start of Mallerstang, where the last of my pinfolds was situated. I have driven through this hamlet many times but never stopped to explore.  At one time Outhgill had an inn, a post office, a smithy, parish church and a Methodist chapel. Of these, only the church still functions. In the churchyard are the unmarked graves of 25 of the builders of the Mallerstang section of the Settle-Carlisle Railway who died or were killed during the construction. At the time the line was constructed (1869 to 1875) between Dent and Kirkby Stephen, six thousand navvies and there families were employed and housed in shanty towns in the valley. Can you imagine the squalor?


 I noticed one property named Faraday Cottage, where the father of the scientist Michael Faraday was the blacksmith in the late 18th century. He in fact moved to London before Michael was born so the link is tenuous.  P1010616P1010615

Faraday Cottage.

    The Outhgill pinfold was up a little lane and was the smallest I had come across.  P1010614P1010611P1010608
 Quite a busy day. The Black Bull in Nateby proved a very friendly place with good food and beer. I slept much better than I do at home.  P1010648P1010651P1010650
download (1)



It must be 40 years since I walked  ‘The Eden Way’, which as the name suggests follows the River Eden from its source in the fells above Mallerstang, through Kirkby Stephen and Appleby, past Carlisle to the Solway Firth. I remember I only took a bivy bag for lightness and ended up quite damp several mornings.

It’s an area a little out of comfortable reach from Lancashire and I have neglected it over the years. Some recent climbing nearby has brought it back to my attention and it so happens that one of the many books I have read in this month or so of poor weather was ‘The Stream Invites Us To Follow’ by Dick Capel. ( I seem to recollect John Bainbridge recommending it, that is one of the joys of Blogging, your readers, few though they may be, often come up with suggestions which you have overlooked. Thanks John )

Dick Capel came to Cumbria in 1982 working as a warden in the National Park as it was then. He changed areas in 1991 starting work for the East Cumbria Countryside Project, ECCP. This aimed to promote the conservation and enhancement of the natural environment of East Cumbria.  During this time he became heavily involved with the Eden Valley and particularly in developing a series of sculpture trails reflecting the area. He  writes evocatively of the area and his own trials and tribulations. In particular he highlights The Eden Benchmarks, The Poetry Path and a series of Goldsworthy Pinfolds that appeared under his watch.


The Eden Benchmarks.

The  Benchmarks are a series of ten contemporary stone sculptures located at intervals along the length of the river Eden between its source above the Mallerstang valley and to the Solway Firth.

“Ten sculptor’s were chosen as part of the East Cumbrian Countryside Project, ECCP. The artists’ brief allowed creative freedom to produce site-specific sculpture, which harmonises with the landscape and captures the essence of each unique locality. The sculptors worked in residence for six weeks and this enabled them to formulate their ideas by familiarising themselves with the locations and talking with local people, including schools, who were encouraged to visit their workshops to see the sculptures taking shape”

“Collectively the sculptures give visual expression to our awareness of the river’s ecology and the need to look after it; individually they foster a profound sense of place, their capacity as seats accommodating an interactive focus for quiet reflection”.


The Poetry Path.

Encouraged by the success of Eden Benchmarks Capel’s next arts project was the Poetry Path by the Eden on the edge of Kirkby Stephen interpreting the hill farmer’s life and love for the Eden Valley.

“Twelve short poems, written by Meg Peacocke, have been carved by lettering artist Pip Hall on blocks of stone installed at intervals along a circuital route either side of the river Eden. Decorative motifs with each poem depict some of the activities associated with every month of the hill farmer’s year”  

“The aim of the Poetry Path is to introduce a permanent and integrated interpretative experience into the landscape, which is assimilated as part of the heritage it promotes and conveys a powerful message about the farmer’s potential role in maintaining a sensitive but viable hill-farming regime in relation to the natural environment as a resource both for nature conservation as well as food production”.

  I could not have written that.


Andy Goldsworthy’s Pinfold Cairns.

In the area there are six of these stone cones built into village pinfolds, which used to hold stray animals,  Created by the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy (1996 – 2002) supposedly based on the prominent piles of stones called the Nine Standards above Kirkby Stephen. At one time Goldsworthy lived in the area.


The funding ran out in 2008 for the ECCP.  But the art remains. Sculptures and poems reflecting the area’s heritage and beauty, and hopefully enhancing peoples enjoyment and understanding of the countryside and environment.

Dick’s book has acted as a catalyst for some exploration on my part. I find myself visiting friends up here so I have decided to stay on, I’ve booked into the Black Bull in Nateby for a few days. P1010169

A related website  provides all the information you need on all the installations. I have quoted above from that site.



“The stream invites us to follow…and certainly, there is no more fascinating pastime than to keep company with a river from its source to sea”  W H Hudson, Afoot in England.



I am a born again Mycologist. I’ve seen the light.

I’d signed up for an ‘Introduction to ‘Fungi Walk’ at Brockholes. In the depths of Brockholes’s Nature Reserve Jim, our ‘guide’, holds a small piece of twig with some even smaller black and white stems – Candlesnuff Fungus, for us to examine.  This minute organism may even provide the compounds to fight cancer. He emphasises the importance of fungi in evolutionary terms and future research. Fungi, neither animal nor plant, have been on this earth 1.5 billion years. There are millions of varieties, but we only know of a small percentage. They have helped our environment to evolve. And what may they hold for the future?

What is the world’s largest living organism he asks? – not the Blue Whale or the Sequoia Tree – no there is a fungus that occupies some 2,384 acres in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. 1,665 football fields, or nearly four square miles. A truly humungous fungus. I like the style of our ‘funguy’ Jim. P1000382

Jim, has only this week been on the telly, BBC Northwest Tonight  with everybody’s favourite Roger Johnson in a feature on Brockholes Nature Reserve. Have a look Here if it is still available.

We are in the presence of an amateur expert though even he can only identify a fraction of the thousands of UK’s fungi. Perhaps a hundred or so noted at Brockholes. And the general advice is don’t eat any of them unless they are on the shelves at Tesco. (other supermarkets are available) The names of some of them give a warning. Death Cap, Destroying Angel, Funeral Bell.


It didn’t stop raining all night, and I was expecting a wet morning ahead so dressed for the occasion with full waterproofs as I parked outside the reserve in the Crematorium grounds, (saving the £5 parking fee). This gave me a brisk mile walk down through the woods to the Floating Visitor Centre meet up. There were maybe 20 of us, an eclectic bunch. The sun shone throughout the morning and hence I sweated undercover.P1000347P1000348P1000353

P1000357Jim led us out into the reserve, and we had only gone a few metres before he stopped on a grassy verge. A keen eye was needed to spot the tiny fungi, Blackening Waxcaps, They slowly revert to a black mess. I would have walked straight past them or even worse squashed them. The more studious followers were making notes.


Then onwards into the woods. Puff Balls, Brackets, Slime, Jelly Ears etc etc. Here are some of my hurried photos. P1000366P1000365P1000369P1000368P1000375P1000379

Jim was a wise general naturalist as well as a fungus finder and imparted words of Lancashire wisdom as we proceeded. All very entertaining. Buzzards flew overhead and Long Horn Cattle grazed the meadows. All too soon the adventure was over, and we headed back to the floating visitor centre and more importantly the café. P1000386

After a coffee I had a stroll around the rest of the reserve. There wasn’t a lot happening, so I headed to the River Ribble and followed its banks back to Red Scar Woods and the climb back up to the crematorium high above the river. I was peering around me and examining every bit of dead wood for specimens, I didn’t spot many but I am full of resolve to get out tomorrow with my new-found enthusiasm for fungi. I need to download one of those apps to my phone to help in identification. P1000383P1000350P1000389P1000391P1000394P1000396P1000398P1000399P1000403

The Autumn colours are finally coming through and the cherry trees in the Crematorium were particularly dazzling. I had ended up walking about 6 miles in my wanderings.



This is one of my favourite walks for the wetter months. Virtually dry underfoot the whole way and yet in touch with the imposing Fells of Bowland. I’ve been walking these paths for 50 years since moving to the area. We used to push our two young sons around in a double buggy in the early seventies, remember those. CaptureBuggy

I keep returning and have since introduced my grandchildren to the delights.  But looking back at my recent traverses, there have been many on here, I always seem to have walked anti-clockwise from Bleasdale Church. Time for a change.

I am always looking for somewhere new to explore locally. Today, despite the clocks going back and giving me an extra hour in bed, I’m not really up and going till midday. I have missed my chance to cycle the Fylde Coast or even the Guild Wheel, it will be dark or gloomy before five. So I fall back on the tried and trusted – Bleasdale Estate. But let’s look at the map and why not go clockwise for a change or even for the first time for years, unlikely though that seems.

The mention of Bleasdale Estate may jog memories in some of you of the disastrous court case in 2018 of their gamekeeper, James Hartley, accused by the RSPB of raptor persecution. Technicalities ruled the damming video evidence of his crimes inadmissible. I still question the partiality of the judge. Is Mr Harley still employed on the estate? Have a read for yourself – Case against Bleasdale Estate gamekeeper collapses as RSPB video evidence ruled inadmissible – Raptor Persecution UK

Putting that all aside I park near the Lower Lodge, I’ve always wanted to live there, it’s so cute. The road is still marked Private, but pedestrians seem allowed, I’ve never been challenged, famous last words.  Now that the estate have introduced a ‘Glamping’ site quirkily called ‘Lantern and Larks‘  on their property (more of that later) there is more traffic up and down the private lane. P1000304

I must say that everything about this estate, maybe apart from their raptor persecution problems common with most shooting estates, is immaculate. They obviously take a pride in their appearance. The driveway past the lodge is newly mown either side to perfection. The Bleasdale Fells are in the background of every view on this walk. Since I was last here there has been a lot of clearance of the mixed plantation on the right which was becoming invaded with the dreaded rhododendrons. It will be interesting to see how they develop it further with plantings. P1000306P1000305P1000311P1000310

Across the way, as I walk down the manicured lane, Bleasdale Tower, built in the early 19th century sits at the base of the fells. The sun is not quite making an appearance, but the temperature is high for almost November. There is not a drop of wind and all is silence as I stroll up towards the Tower. Well not quite because a delivery van keeps passing backwards and forwards looking for some address.  It won’t be easy out here when the post code covers a vast area. A lady dog walker helps him out – hopefully as he speeds past me to the remotest of houses. P1000308


I walk on past the buildings that at one time in the C19th served as a Reformatory School for Preston.   North Lancashire Reformatory for Boys, Bleasdale, near Garstang, Lancashire (  P1000314

The lady with the dog catches me up as I’m taking photographs of stone walls. I’m reading a book by Angus Winchester all about Dry Stone Walls, recommended by Walking Away,  and I’m keen to put it into practice. I would hazard a guess that these walls are mid C19th when the estate was being established. Her dog photo bombs my picture of an old ‘gate’. P1000315P1000316P1000321P1000323P1000325

The lady lives in a property on the estate and tells me she was born at Vicarage Farm along the way. That brings back memories of my attending that house in the middle of the night, when GPs did home visits. I’m talking about the late 70s or early 80s. She recalls her mother telling her of an occasion requesting a visit to her ailing aunt in this remote farm and the doctor saying put on all your lights, and I’ll be able to find you. That was probably me. What a small world.

She talks of living out here and attending the local school and church. The school is now closed, but the church, St Eadmer, is open and has a service once a month. She disappears into a farm to meet a friend but tells me to look out for the original site of the school marked by some stones along the way.

On the old track, now grassed over, and in my own world I startle to hear a bike bell ringing behind me. A cyclist is taking a shortcut home to Chipping. He dismounts, it’s muddy anyway, and we walk together chatting about all things cycling. I forget to look for the old school foundations after the vicarage, next time. We also pass the diversion to Bleasdale Circle, though I doubt I would have taken it as the fields are so waterlogged. At the little school I take the estate road going west, and he pedals off down the main track. P1000328P1000329P1000330



It is along this stretch of lane are the Glamping pods, Lantern and Larks. They don’t look the most attractive, a cross between a shed and an awning from this vantage point. Turns out they are part of a National Group with other locations. As you can imagine they are not on the cheap side of accommodation, but where is nowadays? In their blurb they talk about the wild life to find in the surrounding area and highlight the Hen Harrier. It is these grouse shooting estates that are responsible for most of the deaths of the Harrier, a mixed message there.P1000335P1000340P1000338

Just past here on the right over the infant Brock is an old packhorse bridge said to have been on the way from the estate properties to the church and school. I would like to know more. Cutting across some fields I’m soon back at the car from there.  P1000341P1000342

Well that has been a very satisfying round.





Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones – Mist.

We, Clare, JD and I, are well on schedule for our quest to visit the final Stanza Stone for today. After the Snow and Rain along comes the Mist.

The scenery changes on our onward Northern drive, deep wooded valleys crowded with solid stone terraced mill houses.  Cragg Vale, Mytholmroyd (birthplace of Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate 1983 – 2008) Hebden Bridge, Pecket Well. We start dropping off the moor into Oxenhope when a steep narrow lane brings us back into the hills looking for somewhere to park under Nab Hill.


A muddy track leaves the lane, we check GPS that it is the correct one, a Stanza Stone waymark is soon noticed. Passing small quarries, no soaring climbing faces here, the rock is softer and splits into thin slabs possibly to be used as stone roof tiles common in Yorkshire at the time. We are on the lookout for a larger quarry on the right and then a stone cairn. Wind turbines look down on our wanderings. The problem is that there are several piles of stones on the edge of the moor, when is a pile of stones or a stone shelter a cairn? I dismiss the first stones and head farther towards an obvious larger cairn, ignoring smaller ones on the way. There is doubt in the team. The clue we have is to drop below the cairn to find slabs of rock. Nothing obvious here, how far down the slope should we go? We repeat the process under the other ‘cairns’. JD wanders off to pinpoint the OS map’s indication of the stone with his GPS, that doesn’t help. Clare scouts the lower ground, there are lots of slabby rocks about. I ponder that not being able to find the Mist Stone in the mist would be ironic, we are having difficulty on a perfect day. At last back at the first pile of stones we discover the correct slabs. P1000198P1000218



The story goes that one slab was lifted in situ for Pip Hall to carve, it had a hairline crack down the centre and as the stone was moved it split, much to the consternation of the workmen. Undaunted Pip carved each one independently to later place them together, so that the lines hopefully read as one. (The picture of the split comes from their book) One has to give some thought to this lady out on the moor in all weathers carving away. These slabs are of a softer grit than the ones previously visited, Snow and Rain, and the lettering paler. Simon’s poem is equally evocative though, looking out over the valleys and moors where the Bronte Sisters once roamed for inspiration. Lichens are spreading out over the letterings giving them a more ancient look than their mere 12 years – come back in another 12 years. Someone’s ashes are scattered around and will slowly be blown across the moor or crushed underfoot.


The split slab back in 2011 before repositioning.  



Who does it mourn? What does it mean, such
nearness, gathering here on high ground
while your back was turned, drawing its
net curtains around?

Featureless silver screen, mist
is water in its ghost state, all inwardness,
holding its milky breath, veiling the pulsing machines
of great cities under your feet, walling you
into these moments, into this anti-garden
of gritstone and peat.

Given time the edge of
your being will seep into its fibreless fur;
You are lost, adrift in hung water
and blurred air, but you are here.

The three Stanza Stones we have visited so far have exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return with our team to the Ilkley Area, home of the Literature Festival where the idea was born, to discover the remaining three, Dew, Puddle and Beck. Wouldn’t it be great to find the fabled seventh, but I suspect that will only appear to an alert walker somewhere on the Stanza Stone Trail.


My navigation skills have improved for the drive home, – these are roads I know well up above Wycoller. We even have time to stop off to look at one of East Lancashire’s  Panopticons, The Atom. Both a shelter and a viewing point over the valley and to Pendle Hill. I am sure from memory that when it was first installed there was a stainless steel atom in the centre of the ‘Molecule’ – no sign of it now.

(The other three are Colourfields in Blackburn, The Singing Ringing Tree above Burnley and The Halo above Rossendale.) P1000231


The day couldn’t have gone better. Sunshine, excellent company and three poems found and enjoyed.



Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones – Rain.

15 miles of scenic driving on open moorland roads and then through densely knit and gritty Pennine communities brought us to the White House Inn on the road out of Rochdale. We have just come from Marsden where up in Pule Hill quarry we found and admired our first Stanza Stone, Snow, a water themed poem by Simon Armitage skilfully inscribed by Pip Hall. This is one of six, or maybe even seven, scattered on the rugged Pennine Watershed between Marsden and Ilkley. There is a 45-mile walking trail between them all, but we have chosen to use the car and visit them individually. We have resisted the idea of visiting each stone according to the weather depicted. Let’s enjoy today’s sunshine.

The White House is an iconic moorland inn situated where the Pennine Way crosses from the peaty horrors of the Peak District peat to the pleasanter Yorkshire Dales. Many long distance walkers have been known to give in here. Most people today are either enjoying lunch in the pub or doing short walks from the road, as are we. CaptureStanza 2

The Pennine Way is followed alongside an aqueduct connecting several reservoirs. All level walking. I camped along here once with my young son on a Lancashire Borders Walk. Sensibly we had eaten well in the pub beforehand and only needed water for a brew. The brown peaty solution didn’t need a tea bag, today my tea was already brewed safely in my flask along with a picnic lunch.1qhsxyqg


A miniature arch took us over the water and into Cow’s Mouth Quarry. This is where I become boring once more as I try and trace routes climbed way in the past. They are mainly slabs, with often little protection available, needing a steady head. Nowadays with bouldering mats the picture has become blurred between a roped route and a high ball boulder problem. P1000189


But I’m not here to climb today, I’m with Clare and JD looking for the second of Simon Armitage’s Stanza Poems – Rain. This one is easy to spot being at the base of a rock face right by the path. Pip had a lovely canvas to write on, but advice was first taken from climbers so that no footholds were destroyed, or new ones created. Pip’s carving seems more pronounced than on Snow back at Pule Hill, this rock, being more compact, maybe helping. The letters are imbued with gold.  We read aloud the poem marvelling at Simon’s turn of phrase. P1000181



Again here is the poem in case you can’t make it out in the pictures.


Be glad of these freshwater tears,
Each pearled droplet some salty old sea-bullet
Air-lifted out of the waves, then laundered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.
And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,
To take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.
Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.

We find a sheltered spot for lunch. I forget to take a picture of the extensive views across the moors with distant reservoirs, wind farms and mill chimneys. I am on too much on a high from the poetry – tasting cloud pollen. We wander back with shared tales of moorland adventures.

Fellow us farther on our poetry quest.



Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones – Snow.

Simon Armitage is steeped in Pennine Grit. Brought up in West Yorkshire and living in Marsden in particular, his works have been influenced by the rich heritage of the area. I have been reading a few of his books and poems recently and feel an affinity to his working class background. When you delve deeper you realise the profound and original intellect of the man and his ever widening focus. That’s why he is Poet Laureate.

My friend JD, who has featured many times in these posts, told me about some of Simon’s readings on the radio, such as his journey as a modern day troubadour down the Pennine Way, and more interestingly his series of poems carved and brought to life in the rocks of the high Pennines. The Stanza Poems, six poems on the theme of water in various forms: Snow, Rain, Dew, Puddle,Mist and Beck,  a collaboration between himself, Pip Hall the stone carver, and local expert Tom Lonsdale, a landscape architect. Those looking hard enough might stumble across a seventh Stanza Stone, a secret stone left in an unnamed location within the Watershed area, waiting to be discovered and read. As far as I know nobody has.

I bought the book and was immediately fascinated. Stanza Stones a book by Simon Armitage, Pip Hall, and Tom Lonsdale. (

What they have produced is truly magical and the insights of the protagonists brought to life in the book. I take my hat off to the literacy skill of Simon but equally so to the dedication and art of Pip the sculptress which will be borne out in our efforts to locate the stones.

A fairly tough trail, considering the moorland terrain, of 50 miles or so has been worked out between the carved stones from Marsden in the south to Ilkley farther north. Suffice to  say JD and I never got around to walking it, mainly because I thought some of the 20-mile days across rough moorland with no bed at the end was too much for me to contemplate. I happily compromise and suggest a motorised raid to the individual stones. The idea catches fire and in a conversation with the ‘Slate Poem Lady of Longridge Fell’ (another story enacted in my lockdown posts) we have a willing and knowledgable accomplice. Welcome aboard Clare, one of her slate poems in her garden says it all.


Messenger. Mary Oliver.

Cometh the day cometh the hour. We are off to Marsden with a fair forecast. I’m afraid to say my navigational skills fell short of the sat nav lady whom I chose to ignore. We came at the first site in a round about way, but the moorland scenery and deserted roads were worth it. Mutterings from the driver and the other passenger who kept well clear of any navigational mistakes. CaptureStanza 1

An unpretentious lay-by below Pule Hill, west of Marsden, is our starting point. The steaming brick ventilation shafts of the Manchester to Huddersfield railway are obvious above us on the hillside. As well as the railway down there somewhere the narrow Huddersfield Canal goes through the Standedge Tunnel, the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in Great Britain. Their combined  history is worth a read, it’s a lot more complicated than you think. Above all that are the ramparts of Pule Hill quarry and rocky edge on the skyline. Fortunately for us the original quarry incline is still intact giving an easy climb up into the workings. Memories of plodding up here with ropes and gear for a day’s climbing come flooding back, and I feel a quickening in my step. We are impressed with the amount of quality stone work just giving access to the quarries. What a substantial industry of men must have worked away on these slopes. P1000147


I’m distracted by the quarry rock faces I have ascended in the past whilst the other two go off in search of the poems engraved in stone. P1000168


Nature’s art.


At the far end of the quarry are two large blocks built into the wall and there is our first poem laid out in front of us, letters carved into the two stones bringing out the colours of the rock from those past quarrying days. We trace with our fingers across the rock surface. Already after 13 years the patina is changing, and green lichens are crossing the letters, what will another decade bring. There is already some slight damage caused by man. P1000167P1000160


Here is the poem transcribed as it is difficult, but not impossible if enlarged, to read in the photos. The stanzas cross between the two stones.


The sky has delivered its blank missive. The moor in coma.                                   

Snow, like water asleep, a coded muteness to baffle all noise, to stall movement, still time.

What can it mean that colourless water can dream such depth of white?             

We should make the most of the light.                                                                           

Stars snag on its crystal points. The odd, unnatural pheasant struts and slides.

Snow, snow, snow is how the snow speaks, is how its clean page reads.

Then it wakes, and thaws, and weeps.     S A.

Before we leave, we discover a beautifully constructed curving wall seat inscribed with ‘Ilkley 45 1/4 miles’ which