Heroes in the Lanscape (7): End of the Quest

Continued from Part Six…

The final day of a weekend like ‘The Journey of the Hero’ has to serve many purposes. It has to reinforce what has been shared; it has to send people on their homeward journeys with a smile… and a desire to do it, again. In short, it needs to embrace the companions with a warm hug!

It also needs to bring closure to the ‘plot’ of the story. All workshops need a good story – a thread of purpose and often mystery that defines the sequence of experience. Those attending should feel they were the ‘players’ and not simply the participants. Most will embrace this…

As with the other stages of the weekend, timing would be vital for our final day. To make sure we had workable planes, we had taken a day out, in April 2022, to dry-run the sequence for the final half-day, ending where we began at Castlerigg Stone Circle… hopefully with kinder weather.

(Above: seen from Derwent Water, Keswick nestles beneath both Skiddaw and the lesser Latrigg hills)

We met at the usual Cricket Club car park in Keswick, from which the two peaks of Latrigg and the much larger Skiddaw are prominent.

(Above: Latrigg seen from the Cricket Club car park. Photo take in in April)

Even from the car park, Latrigg appears to be anything but simple. The footpath rises from the river valley and becomes a small road that dramatically crosses the ravine carrying the main A66 carriageway. It then merges with a number of small lanes, eventually snaking up the side of Latrigg, to end in a shambolic and muddy car park not far from the summit.

There was mischief afoot – but well-humoured mischief. Gazing up at Latrigg from the Cricket Club, it looked a challenging climb, and one that wouldn’t fit well with a relaxed and reflective morning. In reality, the companions would soon find themselves whisked up to within a level half-mile of the summit by car.

At least, that was the plan. The photos, below, taken during the recce day in April show how wonderful the views are from the path edge facing Keswick and its two lakes.

(Keswick below – a long way below, but the car has done most of the work)
(above: A clear view down the whole of Borrowdale)
(Above: The summit of Latrigg lies back from the edge

At what you think is the summit – as in the first two photos, above, you turn round to see that the path continues climbing gently for another half-mile to reach a point where you can see the Borrowdale Valley, the A66 main road….and Castlerigg Stone Circle.

The symbolic idea was that, nearing the end of the quest, the hero would be granted a final view of the destination. But first they would have to find it!

(Above: At the limit of the iPhone’s zoom, and not easy to locate, even with a guide’s pointing finger, Castlerigg sits on its own plateau, awaiting the close of the Hero’s Quest. Locator: two thirds the way down and left of centre)

That was the plan. Sadly, something else was in store for us. On the recce day in March, we had little difficulty in getting up the twisty, tiny road to the car park. I remarked at the time that I wouldn’t want to turn around in that tight place if there was much traffic…

Sunday morning, 8th May 2022, offered beautiful skies and a warm day. Everyone seemed to be converging on Keswick. Those that know the access points to Skiddaw also use the top of the Latrigg road as their start-point. The place was rammed.

But the time I’d crawled the car up the busy hill, there were only one or two very tight parking places available, and other cars were frantically trying to escape the mayhem and get back onto the broader roads below.

We had to abandon the idea of parking at the top. I offered the alternative of leaving the cars just off a lower section of the road a short distance below us, but tension had set in – along with the spectre of not being able to retrieve the vehicles in a timely fashion, later.

We managed to reverse everyone out and cut our losses – heading directly for Castlerigg, and noting, for future trips, the lower points on the hill from which a short additional climb would have made the whole plan feasible.

One of the companions, a lady who lives locally, suggested that we take a break at the new Climbing Centre just down the road from the stone circle. It proved to be good choice. A coffee and cake later, we agreed that, over the three days, very little of fundamental importance had gone wrong… and we could swallow this one hit…

After all, Castlerigg could now be explored at our leisure and in sunshine. It had plenty of its own magic to offer.

(Above: taken on an earlier visit, and completely unretouched, mysterious ‘flames’ appearing from the base of one of the larger stones. Image ©Copyright Stephen Tanham)

Back at Castlerigg, I pointed at the nearby hills and the secondary edge where we would have stood to look down on where we were, now. You can just imagine our ghostly presences waving…

(Above: the back of Latrigg – where we would have stood to look down on Castlerigg)

The revised agenda allowed us to spend more personal time within the Castlerigg stones, before calling everyone together into a quieter place to the side of the main site to complete the Hero’s Quest and confer on all present our customary bag of coloured ‘raw gemstones’, for ‘placing or planting’ at other specials locations in each person’s future travels.

To those that were leaving straight from here, we said our goodbyes by the cars. Then, one final journey back into Keswick to reunite the main body of the group with their vehicles and we were done. Everyone had enjoyed it. A few even looked wistfully back up at Latrigg as we were leaving to envisage how the full morning could have gone.

(Above: Herdwicks: “You’re welcome to come, but we’re promising nothing…”

The workshop had proved resilient. Everyone said they felt that a meaningful journey – including a degree of needed ‘hardship’ – had been achieved. A landscape had been ‘absorbed’, a quest fulfilled, and a deeper understanding of a few key Tarot images had been not only gained, but also used in a way that none had seen before. The Heroes had returned to their start point, to – as T.S. Eliot wrote, and known it for the first time. And with that knowledge, able to go forth empowered…

It was still a beautiful day. Stuart and I ambled back along the A66 and joined the M6 motorway southbound. I took us off at the junction prior to the usual one and surprised my co-Director by emerging from a small lane next to the Station Pub – the place we hold our monthly management meetings close to Oxenholme Station – the only West Coast mainline station in a village!

Sadly, time did not allow the usual pint of Guinness, and soon he was being whisked south to Preston by the Glasgow-London train…and I was driving the short distance to home.

(Above: Keswick had been a good base, and given us easy access to wonderful landscapes of many kinds. Photo taken in the winter)

Keswick had served us well, but it was good to be back in Kendal. We hope you’ve enjoyed the journey…

September 2022 Workshop

There will be another workshop of this kind, but with a different theme, in the first half of September 2022. All are welcome. The admin fee is £75.00 per person.

You can register your interest in the comments section or via an email to Rivingtide@gmail.com

Other parts in this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three,

Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.

This is Part Seven… the final part.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

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