Looking over the western Dales from my perch at the trig point near Bowland Knotts I thought about the people I’ve known who are now sadly unable to enjoy such pleasures. It’s good for the soul to remind yourself every now and then just how lucky you are.
The moors up here can be bleak – and they were certainly cold the day I visited this week. But today the Sun is out, and at last there are signs of spring. I can hear peewits (lapwings) calling, back on the higher ground from the valley looking for nesting sites and mates. A less-travelled red grouse shrieks after being disturbed in the heather.
In the distance I can make out the snow-topped Lakeland fells, while directly across Wenningdale the guardians of the Dales line up in defiance: Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough, Penyghent and Fountains Fell. While supping tea from a flask I really appreciate what Nature has dished up for me this morning. Top photo: the view of Ingleborough and Whernside from near the trig point.
I watched this coot for a while at Helwith Bridge quarry. It swam into thicker reeds where a moorhen was minding its own business. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, much squawking and splashing of water before the coot took off and made an undignified landing at the other end of the pool.
I took this photo of Penyghent on my way to view the previously mentioned waterfall. I upped the contrast a bit and it now it looks more like a painting. I wish I had the patience (and talent) to sit there and sketch the scene.
A mixed bag of Dales weather created photographic allsorts this week. I spent one morning admiring the changing cloud formations as they passed over Ribblesdale. I had a few goes at capturing the steam specials up and down the Settle-Carlisle line (pics at foot of post) – a bit disappointing really. Besides been very late on a couple of occasions, the engine wasn’t giving off much ‘oomph’ coming up the Long Drag from Settle. I tried to get a shot of it passing by the old limeworks at Langcliffe on the return journey from Carlisle but got so carried away taking photos of the Hoffmann kiln (pic below), the train whizzed by before I got to the track – early for a change.
One evening I had a drive over the minor road from Settle to Kirkby Malham, then on to Malham for a walk up to the Cove.
The evening light was strong and the area was sparsely populated apart from some climbers and a few more cheery walkers who prefer Malham after the bulk of tourists have departed this pretty part of the dales. Have you ever noticed just how many notices there are at the entrance to the National Trust fields? I’ve done a montage of just a few of them …
Several years ago I was chatting with Bill Mitchell in Settle town centre when we were interrupted by two elderly ladies – as often happened whenever and wherever you were with Bill. He introduced me to one of them, Edith Carr – well known in these parts. I’d previously read about Edith’s life in the Dales at Capon Hall on Malham Moor, and remembered a lovely story Bill had written in Dalesman about her life at the isolated farm, and the time it was cut off for weeks during a bad winter (1947 I think). Two coincidences this week got me thinking about our meeting in Settle (I wish I’d had a tape recorder that day as it was a cracking conversation between two great characters). I drove past Capon Hall on my way back from taking pictures of Malham Cove. The pleasant evening light was shining on the old building – modernised greatly since Edith’s day but you could still feel the isolation. The previous day I’d been to Langcliffe Church to have a browse through the second-hand books on sale there (always worth a look if you’re passing) and picked up a copy of Edith’s verse, called Cobblestones. She moved to Langcliffe later in her life, where in her words she could ‘still see limestone hills so dear to me’. That line is from one of her poems, The Riverfields. I have strong empathy with the second verse, reproduced here:
A sylvan stream our Ribble here, gliding and bubbling on his way, O’er moss grown rocks, through banks so steep, where golden catkins Dangle on the bough of hazel tree and willows tall. The setting sun glows red o’er all. A tawny owl begins to call, his sharp talons hold On twisted branches, gnarled and old. As watchful bird its vigil keep, ’Tis time for man to take his sleep. Eventide, the busy day is o’er, shadows deep pass over all. Peace at last.
I’ll treasure the little book both as a reminder of my brief meeting with her, and the fact it came at a good Yorkshire price of just 50p.
A stunning journey up the Dales on the Settle-Carlisle line took me for the first time to the Appleby Horse Fair. Friday had the best weather forecast, and the views down Ribblesdale, Dentdale, Mallerstang and the Eden Valley along the railway route were brilliant. Appleby was full of colour and character; travellers and gypsies greeted each other in a great range of accents, and at times I felt like I was intruding on a private party – not that it wasn’t a welcoming atmosphere. I’m sure that when all us tourists departed the real party began. I’ll go again next year and be more adventurous with my photography.
To help with loading today’s post, I’ve put the Appleby photos on a separate page here remember to come back for the rest of this week’s blog!
On Monday The Dalesman train chugged through the Dales in heavy rain. At a soggy Selside where Penyghent and much of the dale was hidden behind cloud, I managed one shot which looks better in black and white.
The following day I thought the rain would have strengthened Stainforth Force and I wasn’t disappointed. I timed the visit so that another steam excursion (above) was passing by.
I couldn’t get to Stainforth on Saturday evening when the river was even higher. I did manage to see the Ribble in Settle however …
I had a little bumble around Rathmell too this week (top pic in blog is one of the views). There are many underused paths here, small woods, streams … and llamas.
Has anyone else noticed that Settle is being overrun by rabbits? While walking by the river near Bridge End the other evening I was amazed at the number of rabbits in the school grounds, around the swimming pool and football pitch. In great numbers they can do a lot of damage here in the Dales to farmland and stock, and they also spread diseases; before I’m inundated by comments from animal rights activists, I’m not advocating their total elimination but don’t they need to be humanely controlled so that a proper balance is maintained?
I took a few tentative steps outside Yorkshire this week. I must add a rider here: many of those steps were within the new Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary. You know what? It’s pretty good – Westmorland and Cumberland have quite a bit going for them. Just south of Appleby is the impressive Rutter Force which just sneaks into the recently extended park. The mill there is now accommodation, reached by a ford which even on a fairly calm day like this I wouldn’t cross in my little car.
Busy Appleby is just outside the Yorkshire park boundary but a fine place to visit – made even better by being reachable via the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Before this visit I hadn’t realised the extent Appleby had suffered from the last major flooding. Many riverside properties are still being renovated or drying out. Flood prevention schemes along the riverbank are being implemented.
They like to take care of their trees in Appleby – this one has a nice woolly coat to protect it from the strong north-easterlies.
Back in real Yorkshire
In amongst lengthy thunder and lightning storms this week there were a couple of decent sunsets. The shot below was taken at Winskill Stones above Langcliffe.
On reading a local history book I learned that the top end of Ribblesdale was once the most northern part of England, as raiding Scots plundered the north west. If we ask them nicely do you think they’ll take over the north of England again so we can be separated from those clowns running (or should that be ruining) the country from London?
Miserable weather has cut short my photo opportunities this week so I looked back on this time last year to see what I was up to. The steam trains were running through Ribblesdale and I captured this one near Selside, with Penyghent in the background. I also saw the old ‘windy hill’ from Thorns (pic below) at the top of the dale. Park Fell and Ingleborough, on that old Scottish border, also featured in my diary for this week in 2015 (top pic in blog).
Ribblesdale this week
I did manage a few local shots during a couple of bright moments over the last seven days. Driving back from Gisburn I grabbed this blurry photo of an oyster catcher perched on the impressive bridge ay Paythorne.
The Ribble looks large and powerful here, swollen by heavy rain further up the dale. The clouds cleared to reveal a splendid view of north Ribblesdale and Settle from above Wigglesworth. Penyghent, Warrendale, Castleberg and various scars can all be seen from here…
In Settle the weir was lively, looking like foaming beer – or as I posted on Twitter, this long exposure close-up reminding me of Donald Trump’s hair.
The Settle flower pot festival started on July 1 and already there are many designs around the town worth seeking out. This one by the river bridge reminded me of the first TV set my parents rented from Wigfall’s. Watching Andy Pandy and the Flowerpot Men in black and white was a memorable experience in those days for a youngster. How times have changed.
Yesterday I watched as a large group of walkers set off around Ribblesdale on the Three Peaks trail in appalling weather. There’s nothing we can do about the rain and wind but we can do something to maintain the route which becomes even more churned up on such days. The Yorkshire Dales National Park reckons it costs around £28 per metre to maintain the route. People can help by donating to the Three Peaks Project – visit http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/looking-after/achievingourvision/the-experience/three-peaks-project
With some family members here for the weekend, visiting Ribblesdale for the first time, I took them on a walk from Langcliffe Park where they were staying in a motorhome. We walked along the Ribble to Stainforth Foss and back along the eastern side of the dale via the Hoffmann kiln.
The poor weather didn’t put them off Ribblesdale and they’ve promised to return to discover more – we were even treated to a fine rainbow later yesterday evening. Their verdict on Langcliffe Park: immaculate. www.langcliffe.com
The 100th anniversary of the Somme reminded me of a trip a couple of years ago when I drove up to Colsterdale, near Masham, to see the Leeds Pals memorial. I thought this lonely moorland spot was a strange place for a monument commemorating the brave chaps from Leeds who gave their lives. But I discovered that during the First World War Colsterdale was the site of a training camp for the Leeds Pals. Later there was a prisoner of war camp for German officers here. We should forever remembered the perils of a divided Europe. (Since my photo was taken a wheelchair ramp has been installed leading up to the memorial.)
Ribblesdale is not going to be the usual magnet for trainspotters this year. Westcoast Railways’ Dalesman steam train was due to start running its regular trips on the line on 19th May. The company’s website contains this badly-worded statement: ‘Due to the continued closure of the Settle to Carlisle Line and that our efforts to find a suitable replacement route have been unsuccessful, we have to announce that the Dalesman trip for 2016 will unfortunately be cancelled.’ The Settle-Carlisle line is, of course, NOT closed – just a small section north of Appleby is being made safe after December’s floods – so it’s important that people continue to use the normal service.
In a bid to encourage passengers, from today a Day Ranger ticket will be available. This will reduce the cost of travel for many journeys on the world-famous railway. For details visit www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/
The photo was taken at Dent Station, this time last year.
Relaxing in Ribblesdale
With sciatica still plaguing me this week, the only walking I’ve managed is a couple of hobbles around my village of Langcliffe in Ribblesdale. The consolation is that there are a helluva lot worse places to be. It was whites v yellows on the mini football pitch on the ‘Green’. The churchyard was a mass of colours and wildlife, including this mistle thrush. When the blossom fully emerged the village looked pretty in pink. On the mill pond tiny ducklings were playful, then appeared scared witless as they lost sight of mum, giving off pathetic squeaks of panic. Stainforth Scar provided a fine backdrop.
Further up Ribblesdale
I took a short drive up to Selside one day where I managed a few shots of Penyghent and then on to Ribblehead for a cup of tea. However, by then the old ‘clutch leg’ was telling me it had had enough. I just pray that good weather hangs around until all my moving parts are fully operational again.
Politics and plans
Elections, voting systems and politics in general are not what my blog is about but I can’t help but add my two-penn’orth now and then, especially where Ribblesdale is concerned. Last week’s local council results for my ward, Settle & Ribblebanks, showed that 463 people voted for the Tory candidate; 641 didn’t vote for the Tory, so obviously the Tory was elected. A good 70 per cent turnout, too. The result reflects that of the last general election when the nation received a government which a minority voted for. Great system, uh?
While I’m on one, I’ve been trying to work my way through the ludicrously unwieldy Craven Local Plan which covers the contrasting areas of South Craven, through Skipton up the A65 to the rural western Dales. In some cases blindly following government dictats regarding local plans, councils have to report to their headmasters about how they are going to make developers and businesses stacks of money …, sorry, I’ll rephrase that: councils have to explain how they are going to make life better for us all over the next decades.
Most people who study this flawed and complicated master plan will be looking to see how it affects them close to home (as I did). One immediate reaction was that I couldn’t believe anyone who witnessed the last December’s major flooding of the area surrounding the river Ribble could contemplate building on land which for millennia has held back water, naturally slowing flooding further down the dale. Yet that is what is proposed for an area in Giggleswick and the edge of Settle. Flooding is just one part of the argument against proposals for that particular area (some of which have already been refused but seemed to have miraculously risen from the dead). I won’t expand here but urge you to spare a few minutes to visit www.rageo.co.uk Informal consultation into the Craven Local Plan draft was due to end on Tuesday, but will now run until the end of May.
Having quite a few ancient books cluttering up the house I often look through them for old photos of places around the dales. I like to visit those places to see how they’ve changed. With many of the scenes being in the National Park, there’s not always a lot of differences to be seen… above is a Langcliffe scene pictured 65 years apart. Below is Settle Cricket Club, the old photo taken in 1946 when a Yorkshire XI played against Settle, and the other one taken yesterday.
Looking through the Yorkshire photos in my archive I shouldn’t have been surprised over how many shots feature walls and barns. Foregrounds, backgrounds or the main focus of attention, the skill of the stonemason is often on show. Perhaps there’s something in my genetic make-up – for in among my family history of weavers and farmers is also a long line of stonemasons. But I reckon the reason so many pictures include walls and barns is not down to genes or the volume in the area. It’s down to the fact that they look good: photogenic works of art. A perfect subject for that book I’m going to write or that exhibition I’m going to put on but both of which I’ll never get round to.
As mentioned in previous blogs, over my years of tramping the Yorkshire Dales I’ve seen an increasing number of barns being left to decay. I’ve noticed a lot more recently that are missing their stone-slate roofs. The slates are probably the most vital part of the barn – both from a protection point of view and that of value. Traditional slates are sold for large sums. Barns are being robbed of the slates by thieves, or sold by the buildings’ owners, or deliberately removed by farmers and stored elsewhere. I’m surprised it’s being allowed to happen, especially in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, as these crumbling buildings make the place look unloved and uncared for.
The Yorkshire weather’s been playing good cop/bad cop this week. Pea-sized hailstones clattered the car (pic below), and a wild lightning fork struck a nearby field as I drove down the Slaidburn road towards Clapham on Sunday. I’d been up to Bowland Knotts where I witnessed shafts of sunlight shining over Stocks Reservoir and blue sky over the distant South Pennines. The grouse moors all around changed colour like a kaleidescope, while snow remained visible in the crevices of Ingleborough and Penyghent.
Gorse is a feature in this neck of the woods and the bright yellow provided a lovely foreground for the view from a minor road towards both Ingleborough and Penyghent.
Thursday was one of the ‘good-cop’ days. Ribblehead was packed with sightseers and walkers. I headed further up to capture the view around Arten Gill – there’s never a train around when you want one to bring some action into a shot. Plenty of roofless barns to be seen, however, in these parts (see also third pic in blog).
Earlier, these sheep at Helwith Bridge mistook me for the farmer and headed towards me expecting to be fed. Yet another derelict barn here.
I stopped off for an hour’s wander around Selside and down to the river. There are some terrific old buildings in the settlement as well as great views up and down Ribblesdale and of the Three Peaks. Grade II listed Top Farm has a dated door lintel stating 1725 but parts of the building are even earlier. The postbox on the old shop bearing the former Settle-Carlisle railway station sign is an early Victorian-style box.
Around 60,000 walkers tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks every year whether it be to raise funds for charity or just to say they’ve done the trail. The footfall has taken a toll on the iconic dales mountains, especially on the Swine Tail, the final climb before reaching the summit of Ingleborough from the north. Attempts have been made to fix the path but increased use and wetter winters mean that the best way of solving the problem is to lay stone slabs. It’s a costly business so the Mend Our Mountains campaign has started a crowd-funding appeal. Please help if you can – more details here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/campaign/mend-our-mountains
Twilight added a yellow glow to my stroll around Winskill. Picture shows the outlines of Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough – oh, and a wall.
I might not always see eye to eye with some decisions and policies made by the National Park Authorities, but all in all I think they do a fine and very necessary job of safeguarding our countryside. I’ve certainly never viewed them as being extravagant or a total waste of taxpayer’s money – unlike, say, the House of Lords. (In 2014 the net operating cost of the outdated House of Lords was around £100m while that of the Yorkshire Dales National Park was nearer £4.5m – and not all paid for by the taxpayer.) The National Parks have already suffered massive cuts and are are now faced with even more. Staffing has been slashed by 20 per cent meaning among other things that right-of-way management, visitor facilities, car parking, toilets etc have all been hit. I know there are many other pressing matters to be concerned over, but does this government see the British countryside as just another asset which they can sell off to the highest bidder? The parks have been told to raise more money themselves … we interrupt this Blog for a short advertisement …
———————— The McDonalds Yorkshire Dales National Park
Our walk-through diner on Penyghent now features the famous Barbequed Spare Ribble Platter. At our Dodd Fell branch you’ll find the McWensleydale Cheeseburger and our Snaizeholme McSquirrelnut burger for vegetarians. Our popular Sedburger Club Sandwich with our home-made Hawes Radish Sauce is popular at our Ingleborough branch. The Malham McMuffin with Maple Syrup will delight you at the new Cove Experience outlet. While our exciting Strawberry Strid Milkshake is free with every Wharfedale McWrap bought at our Bolton Abbey franchise located in the former priory. Admission fees apply. The Yorkshire Dales … I’m Loving it.
I’ve taken more than 250 pictures this week so it’s been a bit tricky narrowing down a selection for the blog. I’ve even ventured slightly outside my normal patch of Ribblesdale into Sleddale, Wensleydale and Clapdale. No wonder I’m feeling a bit jet-lagged today … or maybe that’s more to do with the beer consumed while drowning my sorrows watching the Rugby Union. Rather than base my choice of pictures on technical prowess or prettiness, I tend to go for those which tell a story or remind me of the occasion, so professional photographers please look away now.
Last Sunday I did a lovely circuit from Langcliffe – these trees on the route at Stackhouse (top picture) will look superb in a couple of weeks – towards Feizor then back via Giggleswick Scar (pic of my boots from there pointing to Settle) . There were some terrific views, including Penyghent, Ingleborough, Settle and Stainforth Scar (2nd pic), despite an ever-present distant mist.
Monday I followed the ancient track from Horton to High Birkwith, returning along the surfaced road via Newhouses Tarn and the smart hamlet of Newhouses. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between the clouds and vapour trails and today they mixed to form some interesting patterns in the sky.
I often wonder how many of those hundreds of Three Peakers who charge through this area in a bid to chalk off the mountains, actually stop and take in the extensive views from this side of the valley.
It had been many a year since my last visit to Aysgill Force in Sleddale so on Tuesday I returned to find it in a sedate mood. I recall it gushing like a mini Niagara last time, but today a steady flow, captured here without any clever time-lapse photography, seemed to perfectly match my mood. It was great too to see a red squirrel scurry along a fence – far too quickly for me to capture. Wensleydale looked gently rural, too, and I liked this farmer’s humour …
As if my hair wasn’t grey enough already… heading back down Ribblesdale, near Selside, one farmer was determined to make me look even older.
Scaleber Force also looked laid back in the evening. I’d gone out to capture a sunset from Stockdale but couldn’t resist a quick look at the falls above Settle. Then, looking west from Stockdale, the sun said a colourful farewell. Looking in the other direction, the limestone scars of Warrendale and Attermire took on a warm pink glow.
On Wednesday my intention was to head up to Ingleborough from Clapham. The walk started well as I took the route via Clapdale’s fortified farm (pictured below), part of which dates back to the 13th century. Some of the walls are said to be 5ft thick and built to ward off rampaging Scots. (Before any friends snigger, accusing me of avoiding paying the fee to walk through the estate grounds, I really was genuinely interested in seeing the building, honest.)
However, by the time I got to Gaping Gill having struggled up Trow Gill (below) my knees were giving me such pain that I decided it would be wiser to turn back than have to call out Mountain Rescue further up. The other picture is of an unnamed pot hole close to Gaping Gill looking towards Little Ingleborough.
Thursday morning I struggled to make it downstairs to brew my morning cup of Yorkshire Tea such was the stiffness in my knees. I decided there and then to curtail my walking for a few days, and I looked up the price of a teasmaid on t’ internet. Not on my pension. I did manage to pop out and capture this speckled wood butterfly sunbathing on the house wall and later enjoyed another fine sunset from Winskill.
I was back at Winskill yesterday to see if there was a temperature inversion shot to be taken over Ribblesdale. But it was the heavier stuff – fog drifted in very quickly – the two shots below were taken just five minutes apart. My own fog is beginning to lift now so I might go try out the old knees again today.
A major fault led to my best moments this week. I’m talking about the Craven Fault, caused by a prehistoric act of Nature which created some of the country’s most magnificent and intriguing landscapes. A walk following the fault-line from Clapham in the west to Grassington in the east would surely be one of the most spectacular trails in Yorkshire – over to you, trailblazers. I trod two sections this week – the first from near Feizor across to Giggleswick Scar where views down Ribblesdale and the floodplain early evening on Tuesday were exceptional.
On Friday I walked the Settle Loop – part of the Pennine Bridleway – which includes views of the fault-line over Malham and Malham Moor. For me though, the tiny valley of Stockdale provides one of the greatest panoramas. Heading from the Malham direction, the Settle Loop reaches the top of Stockdale and squeezes between the Rye Loaf Hill and the limestone scars of Attermire and Langcliffe. Here Warrendale Knots stand guard on the border between limestone and gritstone, and here the grand sweeping valleys of Ribblesdale and Airedale open up before you. Being there on a warm summer’s day certainly makes you feel glad to be alive.
(That’s not me in the picture – hope you don’t mind whoever you are.) Back to Sunday … after I’d written last week’s blog the day brightened up so I drove to Selside and a nice little photo spot near the start of the track to Alum Pot. Here Penyghent is perfectly framed by the trees which somehow grow from the limestone pavement. On Monday I strolled from the village up to Winskill to find that one of my favourite pointy-signpost-photo-foregrounds had been switched for a short stumpy little effort. I suppose it helps open up the view a bit but I like signs that have place-names on them. Perhaps the authorities have been instructed to remove all signs containing names because there’s an imminent invasion threat?
I got the rare urge to desert the Dales on Wednesday and use my senior railcard on a trip to York. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the holidaying population of the UK and beyond had decided on the same destination. As you’ll gather, I’m not one for crowds but the experience was bearable thanks to the many attractions of this magnificent little city, and I saw many sights and heard sounds I’d never normally come across back home …
With the sun still having its hat on yesterday I walked up to Castleberg Rock to take a panoramic view of Settle and Giggleswick. I made a very short video with my normal camera – something I’m not very good at, as you’ll see here …
I never left Ribblesdale during the last seven days – as my photo diary testifies. Poor weather for June really, so I kept local. But it all started so promisingly. The dale woke up on Monday to a bright blue sky littered with party streamers – vapour trails, which I blamed on Lancastrians on Facebook. I’d presumed they were sending planes from Manchester to pollute our Yorkshire skies. However, I learned later that the majority of them came from London – even worse.
The early stroll took me by an extremely low river Ribble where I saw a duck with eight cute ducklings struggling to keep up. I ‘m annoyed with myself for not getting a better photo of them but I couldn’t get close enough. The duck stayed hidden as a large grey heron was stalking the riverbank. It flew off as I approached and again I cocked-up the photo.
I did, however, get some some nice shots of cows drinking from the Ribble and spotted this amazing upside down hovering cow. It’s standing on the opposite bank, hidden behind the tree branches, but it’s reflection along with that of the sky is sharp on the still water of the river.
From then the weather took a distinctly downhill turn. I got soaked on Wednesday lunchtime at Helwith Bridge waiting for the Fellsman steam train on the Settle-Carlisle. The engine was Leander 45690 for those who fret about such detail. I don’t – but I love the spectacle of steam. The train makes such a dramatic entrance, full of energy and exuberance. The regular train snappers had taken up position at one side of the bridge but I thought there might be a more unusual portrait from t’ other, and was rewarded with this shot. I drained out what tiny specks of colour remained amongst all the rain, mist and steam.
Later that day I wandered down the Pennine Bridleway near Selside with the double aim of seeing the train on its way back and also to look in on a unique bridge over the Ribble. I was able to get up close and personal with the train as it coasted down the dale, reminding me of an old toy train set.
When I edited Dalesman I witnessed the opening of a special wooden-arched bridge taking riders, cyclists and walkers over the river as part of the 200-mile Pennine Bridleway. At 174-feet long, Far Moor Bridge is said to be the longest of its kind of structure anywhere in the world. I remembered it as a bright, shiny piece of architecture, a little garish for its situation, but now it has weathered and is becoming part of a scene rarely visited by the general public. And apart from a couple of cavorting oyster-catchers there was no other life on this world record holder today.
A record for me was the sight, for the first time, of a fox prowling these parts. I’d no chance of photographing it as it disappeared as soon as we saw each other. It’s pretty rough land here, partly a flood plain, but there were lambs about and I wondered whether the farmer knew of the fox on his doorstep.
There’s also an abandoned farm building here. The land is bleak, the weather was dismal, and the derelict building reminded me of a poem I’d started to write a while back but never really developed:
Memories swirling around
silent stubborn stones
are recalled only by the ghosts
of those who once breathed
within the now crumbling walls.
They opened its doors
with faith and hope
of taming land so barren and wild.
No dreams of great riches —
enough to get by would suffice:
clogs for the children, meat for a pie.
But Nature at its wildest and meanest
knows nothing of sympathy
— or hardship or pain.
The futile battle was lost
and now Nature reclaims
what is rightfully hers.
Once a welcome refuge
for those who toiled the land
lies abandoned and forlorn,
inhabitants long gone —
only their memories swirl around
those silent stubborn stones.