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Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Spring is coming to the Hills"

Well I have to record this, Jim Perrin in today's Saturday's Guardian Country Diary, a fine piece of prose and a reminder that modern writers can capture the essence of our natural world so well.  Particularly like the image of the russet coloured fox flying through the air his bushy tail streaming behind him...... And perhaps what is more important the historical knowledge that flows through the landscape, still to be found in traces; the old Helen Sarn road, stone walls from the Enclosure Acts, robbed Bronze age cairns.
I can remember taking my young son to Llanthony Priory, and walking up the steep path behind, which is part of the Black Mountain range (though some argue that they are hills) we followed a track and came upon  a dead sheep that had fallen into a stream.  Tumbled among the rocks, only the fleece remained the body eaten out by foxes, etc. a macabre experience but so resonant of what happens in true nature.....

Black Mountains: Gravid ewes kneel to chew at sparse fescues. A raven observes, waiting for her annual portion of sickly lambs' eyes

"A sleek streak of russet pelts down the field, making for a friend's hen run. Instead of the expected cacophony, I hear dogs bark as I plod on upfield to seven Scots pines by a ruin. The old enclosure beyond is beech-ringed.This was drover territory, with cattle penned here for the night. One wall has collapsed in an explosion of white quartz, the quarry for which would have been a former cairn from the bronze age on the bluff close by. Every hilltop and ridge-end visible from here has one, white-cored with spirit stone.
Up on Craig Twrch – "Hog's Crag" – two are prominent. I drift off in that direction. A slant line of ascent from Ffordd Helen, most ancient of Welsh roads, is scored across the slope; a stone wall from the time of the Enclosure Acts and a modern barbed-wire fence prevent the use of what had been a right of way through millennia.
The cairns, atop its south-west gable, look down on a hillside pecked with pits of Roman metal-working all around the enormous prone megalith of Carreg y Bwci – the hobgoblin's stone. It is distance, though, that preoccupies the eye. On this clear day I can see Cader Idris and the Berwyn northerly; Preseli in the west; the long rimming southern scarps of Wales from Bannau Brycheiniog and the Brecon Beacons to the Black Mountains on the Herefordshire border, and floating beyond them the lovely, distinctive outline of the Malvern Hills above the Severn plain.
Rough mountain pasture around this sentinel ridge is still winter grey. Gravid ewes kneel to tug and chew at sparse fescues. Overhead a buzzard mews. From a fence post a solitary raven observes, waits for her annual portion of afterbirth and eyes of sickly lambs, to bring to red throats already agape in tree-top nest by the Long Wood. Spring, she knows, is coming to the hills."

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful writing, and some of those places familiar to my mind's eye. I think you and I both see the history in the landscape also - it imbues it with additional meaning. thank you for sharing this.


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