Day One: Beltingham to Burnlaw
written at Staward Peel
Yew sheathed in dragon scales
Hazel in smoke.
Each stile a new conversation,
Listening to the silence,
I hear so much
Mingling people gather for breakfast
Soft sunshine through trees
Welcome steps with friendship old and new
Yew trees – old proudly standing
Yew tree – young excitedly clinging
Step in step, silent panting
Onwards and upwards, now hears a riddle
Mrs Bowes, the Queen Mother
Or Geoffrey’s wren
Who really owns this land?
Sunshine through my dad’s old canvas
Waking in green light
The climb started
The footsteps slowed
The breathing heavy
Russet red hazel leaf
Imitating its autumn.
When I woke up this morning
It was the best feeling ever
Even though I wasn’t in my bed.
You may not have seen those kingfishers
But that does not mean
The land is not theirs
You yew and yew
Two little yews
Today and two morrows
A quiet word with the yew
A line drawn on cloth
And the journey unfolds.
Day Two: Burnlaw to Alston
written in the lea of a large stone wall at start of decent
Bright sun through plastic canvas,
long walk at river’s edge,
Repressing the yell at the sound of the bell.
Hot sun on sweaty back
A welcome embrace
Looking for insects
The sun shines
Hoverflies follow me.
Bimbling banished before
Backpackers route march
Springy mosses, spongy legs
Feet leave grass with silver footprints
Golden are the memories.
A curlew quilts the sky with sound
Before diving like a needle into the grass.
Out here, where the earth
Is like a sleeping beast
A quarted of waders
Summering on Wellhope Moor.
The colony of butterflies
In need of a collective noun
One voice said flutter, another shimmer.
Silent walk by silent river
Lunch beneath the shady tree.
Dry boulders uncaressed by water
The distant view of a path travelled
The quiet silence;
A bird sings
The grasses have names,
But I can’t think today.
The morning, amazing
Woken by the sweet sound of the bell
No cars or TV
Pattern language of landscape
Green desert etched by
Bronze age ancestors
A dunlin calls
The pungent woodland smell
draws me to the stinkhorn
Perfume of the flies
Day Three: Alston to Featherstone
written in a high up mossy hollow, near a juniper wood, where a breeze keeps the midges at bay
Footsteps through a valley of trees,
A ladder of wood and a riddle to pass.
Wet, wet, feet
Watching the mountains
Disappear into clouds.
In an instant,
The land reveals
My eyes gaze.
And stop, startled by a restart
Each start tail ending
A light mist of drizzle
Droplets dripping off brown bracken
The beautiful balcony
of a buttercup field
Blade of bronze water
Smoothed on the wetstone valley
Salmon swim through it.
The drizzle mists my waterproof trousers
Nothing protects my soul
From the view
Sick gean cherries
Dying within a cankered decade
Dreamer walkers stride
Legless lizard slide
The line meanders across the fellside
Deep thoughts absorb the atmosphere.
Rocks plucked from the raw hillside
Lattice the river margins:
The wall-builder’s legacy.
Roman castle, Reiver’s Bastle, minaretted Victorian Kirk,
No curlew, no lapwing, nor moor, no more.
Sitting at lunch after a silent contouring north from Kirkaugh, drizzle and midges, pausing at a lime kiln
resting up the sky clear and the breeze dissuades the midges. We sing an African song to Geoff and are astonished by Peter’s bull-roarer remembering his Mother and Brother.
Day Four: Featherstone to Castle Carrock
written by the ruined house, sculptures made here
Long curves fold graciously.
Imperceptibly the horizon
rises and falls.
Lichened stone walls,
Both dry, both ancient.
Today we drift along
Following footsteps of Northern saint
Hoofprints of thieving raider
They worked coal and ore
Where now we walk
And I ease through the edgelands
In those purple high rise flats
The tithe collector moves
From door to door
Filling furry trousers with pollen.
Golden tongues taste burnt logs
White ash spread on toasted earth
Choisiez le petit port rouge
Suivre le chemin de fer
Head empty of thoughs, like these hills of reivers
Today I am tired
My feet plod on
Down, down and up around the corner
Like a river falling down to the lake
Walk and conversation follow lines of power
Victories, defeats and conversions
The slow decent of a back pack from weary shoulders
Flash of cool as trapped sweat evaporates.
If I had walked this way
In summer eighteen sixty three,
I would have met you
By the farmhouse garden gate,
Chequered shawl pulled tight
Around your tanned neck,
Dark eyes waiting my questions.
But I am here now looking at this ruin.
Five herons rise.
Day Five: Castle Carrock to Scarrowmanwick
written by the Old Water
In grass heaven, there are no fences
I listen freely
Along the path, across the bridge,
Ruth with her wildflowers,
The peat keeps many secrets in its humic heart
Memories of departed trees, growl of bear, howl of wolf,
Reflecting on your oily dark secretions, I re-wild my soul.
The tightness of my soul unfolds
To rest in the cradle of the hills.
Wire mes and four sided posts
Zip up designated ground
Underfoot, soft, spikey, warm in turns
Embroidered cushions of thyme, clover, moss
Support my feet
Sleep walking in a wide vision
Sinking into the landscape,
Free falling meadow pipit… Aka Ibj
How should our taxonomy
of hat evolve – by
colour, shape of personality.
A humourless fart
No giggles here
This is serious stuff.
Day Six: Scarrowmanwick to Kirkoswald
we didn’t manage verses today.