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Saturday, 1 February 2014


I have loved the Cheviot Hills from the first moment I saw them.  It happened to be a really foggy day, a real blurred at the edges sort of day. I had never been to these hills before, but my friend had suggested the area as the destination for our outing. Every now and then something would loom across the windscreen, something that was hidden in the mist, an unexpected feature of my newly discovered landscape. The white bridge over the Coquet, a certain tree, its leafless sharp branches softened in the mist. I remember seeing a heron; it also loomed slowly out of the fog and flew along beside the car following the course of the stream.

We followed the stream up the Clennell valley and stopped the car at the foot of some grey scree slopes. At this point the valley had lost its open aspect and it felt quite foreboding.

That day inspired one of my first poems. I think it was the first time I had experienced that sense of “aloneness,” although I wasn’t alone so I wonder if the feeling might better be described as one of smallness within the worldly “naturescape.” I have found this feeling again on Shemaron, steaming alone round the quiet coastline or anchored in one of the peaceful coves that adorn the Scottish shores. It sends shivers down my spine.

From sounds of hollow rocks resistlessly
Falling through time,
From vague heights comes the sound of peace
Softly trickling down the hill.
Falling from weather moulded scarps,
 Holding magic only found in such imposing recesses.
The very soul of the earth rests in these
Retiring hollows and harsh ridges, now cradled in mist. 

Subtly toned in loose grey the scarp rill falls
With breathtaking devasty into remoteness unhindered, 
Where passing mystical jungle comprised sparse leaf and marsh grass,
A niggardly current flows. 

All on a moment, in sudden alarm, a great bird glides gently down stream.
In heronic silence, lulled in desolation and grey mist, in swift flight, blended in tone, 
It appears, graceful, from vast space and lightly vanishes into heavy air. 

Seeming boundless, neither essential element nor abstract, all mingled and suspended in life,
This clime holds memories of the eld and archaic ages fossiled in its atmosphere.
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