Sunday, 28th May 2017

Walk: Bollam Bridge, Poetry Trail, Stenketh, Wharton Hall, Lammerside Castle, Pendragon Castle, Southwaite, Carr House, Nateby, Stenketh, Poetry Trail, Kirkby Stephen Manor House
Start Point: Silver Street Car Park Kirkby Stephen Grid Reference: NY 773 088
Distance: 10.9 miles Ascent: 1,135 feet
Time: 6.5 hours
Weather: Fine, dry and mainly sunny. Cooler than recent days, so excellent walking weather.

9 Walkers. The walk is based on Walk 3 in the Ciccerone Guide “Walking in Cumbria’s Eden Valley” with the addition of 9 months from the Poetry Trail at the start and 3 months on the return, making a figure of eight walk. Some of the poems are difficult to read because of the surrounding foliage and moss. The Poetry Trail itself makes a very pleasant short walk. An excellent booklet about it with a map of the route is available from the Tourist Information Office in Kirkby Stephen. The stile at NY 769 066 is broken and a wire fence had to be crossed.

As the stones on the poetry path are not easy to read they have been added after the photos.

The May stone was set in a wall built by the master waller Steve Allen

The August Poem was on two curved stones on the former railway line

A view of the River Eden from the Millenium Bridge at Stenkrith

Lammerside Castle was built for the Wharton family

Sheep use Lammerside for shelter

The River Eden and Birkett Common

Wildboar Fell towers over the upper Eden Valley

Pendragon Castle

View of Pendragon Castle from near Castle Bridge

An awkward stile near Carr House

Resting on the December stones near Bollam Bridge

Poetry Path: A Year in the Life of a Hill Farmer

Poems by Meg Peacocke and carving by Pip Hall.

The sky’s harsh crystal,
Wind a blade, trees stripped,
Grass dull with cold. Life
Is a kernel hidden
In the stone of winter.

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 and shifting, burdened
With patience. When will winter end?

Thin strakes of sun on the byre floor.
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.

From field and fell
Run cold run small
I am the rain tear in the eye
Blood in the vein I am the sea.

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.

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 the sweat runs into his eyes.
Above us, a silent plane has needled
The clear blue. Paling behind it
A crimped double strand of wool unravels.

Light drops like honey from branch to branch. Elders
Balance their dishes of cream,
While fledglings try small quivery leaps, testing
The buoyancy of the air.

Silage. Tractor incises the first
Green furrow. Skillful geometrician,
The driver judges an arc of weather.

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.

Revetted banks, a concrete post.
Rabbits tunnel the cinder waste.
Angle iron, link of a broken chain.
Listen, and catch the hiss of steam again.

Sandstone. A desert wind, grain
By grain, laid down these rocks. How did we trace
A Path through the ancient dunes?

Limestone. A million million
Blanched and compacted shells. How did we swim
Through the drift and not perish?

Through hazels and alders, softly or in spate,
Eden moves in the valley it has hollowed
From Mallerstang to the shifting Solway sands.

Long may the dipper be regent here, piping
The full reach of his ground; the only monarch,
Kingfisher, turquoise jewel, arrowy at the dusk.

December (in Haiku form)
There sails the heron
Drawing behind him along
Wake of solitude.

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