Burgh-by-Sands and Drumburgh Castle

Monday 20th September my wife and I took an afternoon window of opportunity to visit Burgh-by-Sands and Drumburgh on the now quite lost course of Hadrian’s Wall. Stones of which can be found in St Michael’s, the parish church of Burgh, set upon the Roman Fort of Aballava (place of the apple trees).

St Michael’s church

Drumburgh Castle is a hybrid bastle-cum-towerhouse from where the broad expanse of the Solway Firth may have been surveyed. There is an altar beside the grand stone steps and the near castellated top is the viewing platform (I have in the past climbed the metal internal ladder to stand on that airy perch). Opposite Lowther House, was formerly a pub betrayed in the quaint lingering text. From the village lane one can look south to the Caldbeck Fells. While I spotted a new haaf net set casually against the saltmarsh bounding hedge at the edge of the tidal Solway shore.

Drumburgh Castle
Yours truly lending scale to the Haaf net.

Cairn Holy in Galloway

Sunday 19th September promised glorious sunshine in Galloway a golden opportunity not to be missed for a road trip that turned on Newton Stewart. En route, short of Creetown, my wife and I called in at the two Neolithic chambered cairns called Cairn Holy I and II. The setting is gorgeous, but more impressive are the details of the six thousand year old monuments. The stone’s are not haphazard they are meticulously and purposefully positioned to cast shadows in a very precise way when lit by the sun at the key solstices and the dawn’s and setting sun’s rays play into the inner tomb and on the faces of the stones. Tomorrow Tuesday 21st is Equinox midway between mid-summer and mid-winter, this is perhaps the most significant moment of all. Find one cup & ring mark on the monument, in an area simply brimming with Neolithic monuments all connecting the sea, the land and the heavens. The eastern facade of standing stones, akin West Kennet Long Barrow, aligned to the far headland of the Antrim coast when viewed from the north and one prostrate stone pinpoints where the sun’s shadow moves at the mid-solstice moment (this coming Tuesday at noon). The place has so special. We met two joyous and colourful Zimbabwean ladies and an American guy whose addiction to the setting and the place is infectious. He told us that a farmer ploughing the nearby fields was constantly picking up fractured funeral remains in caskets suggesting the area was littered with burials and a considerable Neolithic community was nucleated in this vicinity.

These ladies had been to the site with their children some years ago and were renewing their happy memories again today.
The shadows are all important, connecting the observer to the immediate, landscape and stellar setting.
Rock art limited to this one cur & ring feature.
Yours truly standing beside the drystane wall bounding the Cairn Holy monument… what stories these fractured stones could tell.

Artful Ways opening

Friday 17th September my wife and I attended the private viewing of this inspiration exhibition at Tullie House in Carlisle. It has been so long since I attended any formal gathering I felt seriously underdressed in such a company. Nonetheless, it was a great honour for my drawing of Hindscarth to have been selected to go on show and I enjoyed some lovely conversations. I loved Sue Foster’s Castlerigg by moonlight, Livi Adu’s delightfully adored walking stick and enjoyed chatting with the young Syrian lady (whose name I missed) who contributed an original feature installation. Eyecatching was the wild forbidding aspect of Pillar Cove, a perspective that my good friend Jim Fotheringham attested as a place he loved, having climbed the northern wall of the Rock only recently.

Joss Naylor

Our Countrystride podcast conversation with the living legend Joss in Wasdale went live today and has captured an enormous listenership, 400 listens within the first two hours! No surprise as he is such a warm engaging gregarious guy. When he runs he prefers the company of fellow runners, but can soak up the joys of being on the fells alone with equal comfort. What he has achieved in his life is quite staggering. With me as we recorded the interview was Viv Crow co-author of the Cicerone book ‘Tarns, Meres and Lakes’.

Joss Naylor and Viv Crow at the hamlet of Greendale in Wasdale

Walla Crag and Ashness Bridge

On Sunday 12th September, with the Keswick Mountain Festival still in full swing, the fells close to the town were buzzing with walkers. I inadvertently mingled amongst some of that throng from Rakefoot onto Walla Crag, and continued to Ashness Bridge via Falcon Crag. To judge by the thin trod to the cairn at the very top of Falcon Crag, this vantage-point is infrequently visited. It is without doubt the most perfect place to survey the grand surround of Derwent Water.

The head of Derwent Water from the top of Falcon Crag
A Derwent Water launch passing below Falcon Crag
Walla Crag from Falcon Crag
Ashness Bridge looking to Skiddaw