Posts tagged ‘moors’

16/04/2018

Pinhaw: Center of This World

Pinhaw1

Pinhaw is the center of this world. Around it the hills, the valleys, the clouds and the skylarks wheel. To the North are the Yorkshire Dales, to the West the Irish Sea, South  are the fells of Lancashire, East the moors and towns of West Yorkshire. On one side is the village of Lothersdale, on the other Gargrave (the two villages in which my parents were raised). It is the center of all the Tales I write, whether explicitly or no.

Pinhaw2

Paradoxically, it is a marginal place. It sits on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It is at the far end of a ridge of hills which raise near Preston in the west (including Pendle and Wheets). It overlooks both the Aire and the Ribble valleys – the former heading to the North Sea far to the East, the latter empties into the Irish Sea.

Pinhaw3

For all of these reasons, Pinhaw is at the center of things. The curlew know this. They nest in the sedge by the peat pools, and call to the sun as it rises on spring mornings. They know the people who built the stone walls all those years ago. They know them and they know their spirits. They watch them, as they gather to beat the boundaries away from this – the center of their world.

pinhaw5

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16/04/2018

Pinhaw: Center of This World

Pinhaw1

Pinhaw is the center of this world. Around it the hills, the valleys, the clouds and the skylarks wheel. To the North are the Yorkshire Dales, to the West the Irish Sea, South  are the fells of Lancashire, East the moors and towns of West Yorkshire. On one side is the village of Lothersdale, on the other Gargrave (the two villages in which my parents were raised). It is the center of all the Tales I write, whether explicitly or no.

Pinhaw2

Paradoxically, it is a marginal place. It sits on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It is at the far end of a ridge of hills which raise near Preston in the west (including Pendle and Wheets). It overlooks both the Aire and the Ribble valleys – the former heading to the North Sea far to the East, the latter empties into the Irish Sea.

Pinhaw3

For all of these reasons, Pinhaw is at the center of things. The curlew know this. They nest in the sedge by the peat pools, and call to the sun as it rises on spring mornings. They know the people who built the stone walls all those years ago. They know them and they know their spirits. They watch them, as they gather to beat the boundaries away from this – the center of their world.

pinhaw5

04/04/2018

Loneliness

Loneliness is a companion as tangible as a veil. It shrouds the world of interaction, of closeness and of companionship, leaving nothing but truth for the lonely to face.

On the moors, with the wind blowing in strong from the west, rain showers gusting through you, it is possible to feel vulnerable, isolated with your frailties laid bare. But loneliness… loneliness is something you carry within. The towns and villages, teeming with summer tourists, are as lonely a place as the wildest peak.

Many of the characters in my tales, both living and passed, are lonely. They live their lives alone, and understand that we all die our own death, and face it alone. The circumstances that bring each character to their loneliness may differ, but it is how they face that realization that, to a lesser or greater extent, defines them.

In “Annabel” (the opening story of The Wedding Invitation: Vol. 3 of Ghosts and Other Tales), loneliness is the central theme. For the narrator, the fact that Alice – the main protagonist – lives on her own, without (obvious) friends or family, in a remote cottage is the very definition of loneliness. The narrator sees it as a common problem for many older people in such a rural community, as indeed it is. For Alice, though, loneliness is not defined by isolation. Loneliness for her is being separated from that which she loves. It is the division of the soul.

You are alone, in a forest on the darkest night of the year. All around you are the sounds of creatures in amongst the branches. You cannot see the path in front of you clearly. You slip on the tree roots. You are alone.

You wake, and the sounds you thought were creatures in the night, were the beeping of the life support machines all around you, and the sounds of the nurses and doctors, trying their best for you. They are out there.

You are alone.

(Photographs copyright Gavin Jones)

31/03/2018

Beyond A Gothic Love Story

The gothic is not an epithet that fits neatly on the Yorkshire Dales. There are places that encapsulate the sublime, but for every Barden Tower, Penygent and Gordale Scar there are gentle villages, pastoral scenes and idyllic river valleys. Even the moors in the limestone areas have less of the bleakness of the sour moss expanses of the West Yorkshire and Lancashire fells. It elicits a different form of emersion. not one of a monochrome bleakness, and not one of unremitting gloom.

The Dales are a balance between the wild and the gentle. As such, they lend themselves to a more complex reading. There is no overarching narrative into which they fit. It is in this context that I write my short tales. There is no single story. They move from moor top to valley floor, from waterfall to village hall, to the unknown places beyond.

The tales are also – with a few exceptions – written at the human level. These are not stories of a distant otherness. The ghosts inhabit the same many layered universe as the people, the creatures and the settings. The feelings they evoke and their purpose both in the narrative and in the ‘world’ – are equally difficult to pin down. Some of the hauntings are a release, some a revelation, some an invocation, only on occasions do horror and fear surface: not, you could say, typically “gothic”. At root, in a way, they are – together – a love story.

The third and final sampler pamphlet from the Ghosts and Other Tales introduction series, “The Wedding Invitation” is released on April 13th. It will be available in hard copy and Kindle Editions, along with Parts 1 and 2 (“Abandon Hope” and “Ghosts”).

Images of Leeds Liverpool Canal, Gargrave and two images from St Andrews Church Gargrave.

Copyright Gavin Jones

28/03/2018

Moors, People and Ghosts

The moors and fells of the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas have long inspired tales of horror, fear and the supernatural. The trope on which such tales rely is that of lost souls, wandering the bleak and Romantic misty moors: a sublime and gothic fantasy.

Certainly, when one walks the huge, primarily acidic plateaus of Boulsworth and Haworth moors, the Pendle to Pinhaw ridge, Rylstone and Simon’s Seat over to Nidderdale, it isn’t difficult to figure out where such wilderness literature finds its source. The sense of emptiness, of the inhuman, is palpable. However, even these “wastes” are intrinsically human – managed even – landscapes.

In my short tales (in Abandon Hope, Ghosts and The Wedding Invitation) I have tried to find other locations for my hauntings. These places formed me. I’ve lived in them, and them in me, throughout my life. The moors themselves haunt me, but not in a gothic or macabre sense. Melancholic, definitely, but sublime, no. They are deeply human.

Some of the seeming bleakest moors are in fact post-industrial landscapes, being the sites of lead and coal mines, going back centuries, even millennia. Almost all are farmed, for sheep or grouse shooting (the latter increasingly controversial, as it moves towards something akin to a factory model). These industries – in addition to the wool trade, water management, craft production and, of course, tourism/leisure – have  brought people, and with human beings come stories, tales, myths. And hauntings.

From the rock carvings and stone circles dating back to Mesolithic era, through the subsequent “invaders” who made these areas home and brought their own structures (Roman roads, Celtic field systems, Germanic and Norse villages etc.) to the tarmacked roads, mega-quarries, festivals and visitor centers of today, people have been leaving their physical marks on the moors. They also bring with them their energy, their vitality and their traces.

I find, therefore, the ghosts are to be found in this vital humanity. It is in the very busy-ness of these places, not in their bleakness, that stories emerge. Let the skylarks have their freedom. The spirits seek redemption amongst their fellow humans.

(photographs copyright: Gavin Jones and Garner and Jones)

26/03/2013

A Half-Forgotten Hymn

 

Beyond our acid moors and smoke,

Where crags and limestone tooth the sky,

An empty hearted oak grew old

In downland forest, inward grown.

 

We stalk our moors and cough and choke,

Parade our bitterness and pride.

Puffed up with scars and open sores,

We gather all our people round.

 

We hear the oak may topple soon,

Its rotten roots are losing grip.

Its age once countless now counts down.

It stands alone, it stands forlorn.

 

Together we begin to sing

Our tuneless, half-forgotten hymn.

 

 

26/03/2013

Roman Fort (Mastiles Lane)

 

The winter nights had scarred the grass,

So daylight owls could scatter voles

By drifting up before the sun

And lazing on the barrack poles.

 

They came from many different worlds:

We saw them, heard them, speak in tongues.

They walked the land on rigid lines.

They sacrificed to moonless gods.

 

They came and raised their camp in view:

We’d smell the roasting fires at night.

They washed and burned the heavy rocks,

They drew their water from the spring.

 

The owl brings panic with its flight,

The Romans keep their torches bright.

 

 

10/02/2013

The Hound of the Baskervilles

 

Around St Petersburg the fog

Is emanating tales of fear.

Its rotten stench has howled for years,

It spreads malignant myths of death.

 

The truth behind the curse is raw,

A void as deep as Russian steppes,

Where generations wait for word

Of riches mired as feudal hordes.

 

Those truths are never glimpsed for long:

They’re flashed as fugitives of code,

They’ll raise their dues and feed the hounds,

They’ll drag all wayward souls beneath.

 

The bleakest marsh has tales to tell:

For all around they’re tales of hell.

 

 

response to the film Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона: Собака Баскервилей (The Hound of the Baskervilles): the version directed by Igor Maslennikov

26/01/2013

Circling Wycoller (Walk No. 9)

 

The moors are weighted with this rain.

Another ridge of peat is lain.

The curlews haunt the hills and wail.

The moors are closing round the dale.

 

The hamlet, old as language, turns

Its back on changing thoughts and forms.

Along the beck the pathways creep:

The gritstone pavements, rutted deep.

 

The mansion house, a hollowed shell,

Where spirit fires are burning still,

And owls can echo history’s cries,

Beneath the towering summer skies.

 

The valley sits above its pasts:

A flick of dust which cannot last.

 

 

26/01/2013

The Summit of Pen-y-Ghent (Walk No. 7)

 

So what is truth and what is not?

In words, the evidence of loss,

Of spirits swirling round the peak:

The nameless souls who named the hills.

 

I heard the songs, I saw the dance,

I felt the heartbeat in the rock,

I saw the springs of pasts converge,

I formed Brythonic words again.

 

This place – where lapwings guard the skies,

And ravens roll about their throne –

Has stripped my language from its roots:

My English never climbed this far.

 

Relentless winds have scarred its name,

Across the passing clouds of time.

 

 

30/12/2012

The Sylph of Dales’ Song

 

Above the hills and northern dales,

Above the outcrops on the moors,

Above the mists and passing rains,

Above the senses and the dreams,

 

It saw the world for what it was.

It smoothed the waters, rocks and flames.

It watched the changing, watched the lulls.

It wrapped the world and lungs it filled.

 

It quivered with the wings of birds,

It gathered all their voices up,

It kept them for the sun to breathe,

It kept them for the stars to grieve.

 

Above the beauty of the skies,

Above the tales, above the lives.

 

 

28/05/2012

Minotaur Running

 

He runs the moor on gritstone paths,

The heather pollen thick in eyes

Unused to sun and distant skies.

He fears his shadow on the quartz.

 

He’d built an image of the breeze,

But now, at last, he feels her touch.

He looks about but cannot see

The fingers running through his mane.

 

He tastes the blood upon his tongue.

His heart is bursting through his throat.

The moorland paths run on and on,

Across a world un-walled, unknown.

 

Below the earth he stood up proud,

But here – so small – his head is bowed.

08/05/2012

The Empire of the Minotaur

 

They built the halls and weighing rooms

Of millstone grit and avarice.

They birthed the monster, fed its spite,

Then hid it deep beneath the moors

 

The maze they dug stretched out for miles,

To Yorkshire mills and cotton fields,

To sugar cane and gold and slaves,

Through merchant men and ship-o-line.

 

And soon there lurked beneath it all

The monster’s barely human form:

The towns and cities bent in smoke,

The fenced and drained, the turned and choked.

 

Beneath the art the bullets forged,

Beneath the war the moneyed hoard.

08/01/2012

Ring Ouzel

 

A lunar crescent, skyward horned.

A tail which traces scree and ling.

A plaintive tone, a mournful tune.

A solitary black and bib.

 

Alone in rocks above the scars,

Where streams from bogs first scratch their beds

With steady tick like lowland merle,

A lost and wayward song of moors.

 

The moon is pitched in afterglow

And scattered with the trace of stars.

The melancholy call of space

A flick of night pitched wing and gone.

 

And left as one with what was once,

The sadness of a memory’s song.