Friday 14th March 2014
The Road sign that announces that you have arrived at Castle ( long gone unfortunately) Carrock clearly says Please Dance. This is a trick because the locals clearly also want you to sing, smile and listen as they are most proud of their music festival held annually on the Marr – the local village green. The village is a collection of smart house and cottages tucked together in the lee of a great reservoir – an enormous Victorian creation that washes and waters Carlisle ( when they are not being flooded). The rest of the village stretches out along the road trying to keep as close to the centre as they can. But the children from the school have to be bussed in from quite a distance around.
The cosy oak paneled Village Hall host events from Highlights Tours but is eager for storytelling – you can tell. Opposite the magnificent gate to the church yard stands as a proud testament to a prosperous past,while the church itself, calm and welcoming, boasts splendid stained glass windows.
The Primary School welcomes you with bold relief art work on the school walls of animals and trees. We are deep in the country. What a great place to plant the seeds of some stories.
Wednesday 9th April
A site meeting with Paul Frodsham, our archaeologist, who just finished working with Pascale in Alston and is recharged with enthusiasm about the project. However in choosing the Kings Forest of Geltsdale as our land to study and for our inspiration we don’t have single site or object to work with. There is the strange Torte stone standing in the middle of a farmer’s field, dressed with beautiful cup and ring marking, but that’s tricky to get to and there’s nothing else. I was spoiled last year having a Castle to explore, now I’ve got a whole valley. We examine the map and find the perfect location – a Pele Tower just above the Tarn [ in translation : a fortified tower above the lake ] We set off eagerly only to discover a building that has been changed into a cosy home incorporating and covering up the tower completely. We look to the heavens for inspiration – but we look too high! The steep rolling hills of Geltsdale are waiting for us.
The further we climb the more we see a plan begin to formulate. This landscape has changed so much and the children will have to dream the forest spaces. We might see hare or deer with the naked eye, but the wild boar and galloping horses will have to be in our minds eye – and all the better for it. We find a hidden quarry, where water carves and feeds a secret cavern, we find roots of vegetation wrapped around a thin tree, surely the hair of a long lost lady, we find a sheep’s skull and broken bones in this limestone waste and stories are already beginning to self seed. The wind blows hard in our face, but we’ll not turn away now our journey has begun. The hill found us, not us the hill.
Now it’s off to the Library to dust off some knowledge about what it means to have a Kings Forest on your doorstep.