‘Aye’ of the Unicorn: Armchair…

*

As the weekened progressed

we were to work our way around ‘the limbs’

of an elemental pentagram.

*

Two sites from the region

were given over to each element.

*

In the first we would consider the element in question

with the help of a conducive environment and our core text.

*

In the second we would construct and walk our pentagrams,

again in a conducive environment,

whilst examining notions of our magical self

in relation to the element and its inner psychology.

*

Late Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning,

we considered and worked with the element of fire.

*

We were back with the witches, again,

on the blasted heath.

*

I’m not sure whether or not our heath had been blasted

but it had certainly been scorched…

*

The witches really represent past, present, and future,

for our soon-to-be-king, Macbeth.

*

He was Glamis and is now also Cawdor, although

at the moment he is unaware of the promotion,

and he is promised King…

*

The crux of the matter is really

one of free-will or determinism.

*

Would he have got the crown

without seizing it

and what difference would that have made?

*

The rest of the ‘prophecy’ may still have held

but brought about by different circumstances…

*

That fire, or desire, could actually be a weakness

is not always fully grasped.

*

Just ask Falstaff!

 

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond fear ~  A weekend with the Silent Eye

As the June workshop in Scotland draws to a close, why not consider joining us in September for a weekend in the ancient landscape of stones, circles and strange places?

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond fear

 A weekend with the Silent Eye

Derbyshire, UK

Friday 13th – Sunday 15th September 2019

We are all afraid of something.

There are the fears of the everyday world, from arachnophobia to a fear of the dark, and the deeper fears of the personality, that play upon the mind and heart.

What purpose might such fears serve, beyond protecting us from potentially harmful situations?

How have our ancestors addressed such fears across the centuries? Can we learn from the past a way to see beyond our fears to a future lit by serenity and hope?

Join us on Friday the thirteenth of September, 2019, in the ancient landscape of Derbyshire as we explore how to lay our personal gremlins to rest.

Based in the landscape around Tideswell, Bakewell and beyond, this weekend will entail some relatively easy walking on moorland paths.

The weekend runs from Friday afternoon to early Sunday afternoon, and costs £50 per person. Meals and accomodation are not included and should be booked separately by all attendees. meals are often taken together at a convenient pub or cafe.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

The Way to Dusty Death?

We were in Ulverston, Dean and I. We’d just climbed the famous ‘Hoad’ – a tall monument on the top of a tall hill that looks like a lighthouse… but isn’t. There’s some important symbology in that, but we’ll return to it later.

Light and dark….a walk in Glenlivet…including a view from the stone circle at the Doune of Dalmore toward Drumin castle…both scenes of coming derring-do on Sunday. Photo: Dean Powell.

He was on his way back from Somerset to northern Scotland – the Glenlivet area of the North Cairngorms, where he and his loved ones have their home. Our house in Cumbria is en-route, so the door is always open to break his journey. After a night involving Bernie’s excellent cooking and a glass of red wine or two, we decided that a local (ish) walk would put some air into the bloodstream for his second leg and return to the far north.

Ulverston is one of our local favourites. It’s about a half-hour journey up the fast Barrow road. A coffee in Ford Park and then the short but taxing climb up ‘The Hoad’ to get to the famous lighthouse that isn’t. It can be seen all over the expanse of Morecambe Bay. It’s actually a monument to the famous engineer Sir John Barrow.

We’d got our breath back by the time we got to the monument. The Silent Eye had recently carried out the ‘Jewel in the Claw’ spring workshop at Great Hucklow – our annual biggie. We had used a Shakespearean theme, casting one of our Californian visitors as Queen Elizabeth – ruling over a giant chessboard which was the royal court; and upon which the players moved with great caution… under her watchful eye.

Dean and Alionora had played two of the central characters: Lord Mortido and Lady Libido – death and life in the fullest sense. They were superb. Leaving the tiny village Dean had reflected that there might be scope for doing something else ‘Shakespearean’, in the form of a journey around Macbeth Country, centred in Grantown-on-Spey, not far from where he and Gordon live.

Now, on top of the world and next to the faux lighthouse, we began to discuss it in earnest.

It would involve several kinds of journey. First, it was a long way to travel; but we had all driven down to Dorset the year before for the similar summer weekend, so we knew we’d get the support from our hardy regulars…

Second, there had to be a dual journey in terms of both spiritual discovery and visiting the landscape. The event was to take place in a triangle of land between Grantown, the Findhorn Coast and the Macbeth castles just south of Inverness. There would be no lack of scenery! Dean had already assembled a set of places with that ‘special feel’, including a mysterious old church and a stone circle. Within this combined landscape he proposed leading a journey of self-discovery using an ancient magical symbol. Macbeth’s ‘witches’ had to be honoured – they were a very real force in the time of James VI of Scotland – and subsequently the English king on the death of Elizabeth I. Dean has an intensely esoteric background and is a qualified NLP therapist and teacher as well as the local leader of Lodge Unicorn n’ha Alba. He has recently developed the idea of the ‘magical matrix’ and proposed to use this to accompany our journey in the highland landscape.

I hadn’t realised until he told me that the Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. The event would mix his Scottish team and the Silent Eye, and we proposed it be called the Silent Unicorn.

Somewhat pleased with the plan, we took the long and winding path down from the Hoad to have a fruitful cafe lunch in Ulverston.

And now it is upon us. Like Macbeth we must earn our keep (sorry) and ‘strut and fret’ upon the magnificent stage of the highlands. Our weekend’s tower must be a true one and not false. Only with that intent – that something deeper is afoot, will we attract the intellectual and emotional harmony that so typifies these Silent Eye ‘landscape journeys’. By the time this is published, we will be leaving Cumbria, to join up with friends old and new from across the UK. We all face a long journey; but a very rewarding one.

For more information on joining us for one of the Silent Eye ‘discovery in the landscape’ weekends, click to see our forthcoming events, here.

The road to Inverness awaits….

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond fear

Rites of Passage: Seeing beyond fear

 A weekend with the Silent Eye

Derbyshire, UK

Friday 13th – Sunday 15th September 2019

We are all afraid of something.

There are the fears of the everyday world, from arachnophobia to a fear of the dark, and the deeper fears of the personality, that play upon the mind and heart.

What purpose might such fears serve, beyond protecting us from potentially harmful situations?

How have our ancestors addressed such fears across the centuries? Can we learn from the past a way to see beyond our fears to a future lit by serenity and hope?

Join us on Friday the thirteenth of September, 2019, in the ancient landscape of Derbyshire as we explore how to lay our personal gremlins to rest.

Based in the landscape around Tideswell, Bakewell and beyond, this weekend will entail some relatively easy walking on moorland paths.

The weekend runs from Friday afternoon to early Sunday afternoon, and costs £50 per person. Meals and accomodation are not included and should be booked separately by all attendees. meals are often taken together at a convenient pub or cafe.

Click below to
Download our Events Booking Form – pdf

For further details or to reserve your place: rivingtide@gmail.com

Great Expectations..?

It had been a month since I had last been in the north and, as I took to the road once again, there was the familiar frisson of excitement that always runs through me as the journey begins. This time, however, there was something more… a longing that hovered between fear and anticipation. Last time, the heather had just begun opening its petals… and we had enjoyed a month of unusually hot sun. Would it still be in bloom?

The moorlands that I love are where the heather flowers. Most of the year, the moors are brown and gold. When the bracken unfurls its fronds, they glow with a vivid green… and when the heather blossoms, it paints whole hillsides with its distinctive hue; the air is fragranced with honey and the land wears its soul, at once regal, soft and earthy.

The road led me through six counties and a change of season. In the south, the trees still wear the deep greens of midsummer. Further north, and the touch of ochre dapples the leaves… barely visible yet but assuring me that autumn is not far away. Wildflowers still bloom, vivid against the dry stalks of gilded grasses and clouds of downy seeds follow the breeze in search of a home.

I love the autumn, and I feel in tune with the change in the air, as my own seasons turn with those of the year. But, for once, I hoped autumn would stay its hand, just a little while longer… just for the heather. As I round a bend near Bakewell, there is a far-distant hill that gives me my first glimpse of the moors. When, at this time of year, there is a sunlit streak of purple, my heart lifts and sings. This time, there was only an unrelenting smudge of brown and for a moment I felt near to tears.

Perhaps I was wrong… maybe it was just the dark grey clouds that robbed the hills of colour. But no, my next glimpse confirmed my fears… the best of the heather was over and I would not see it in full bloom this year. For a moment, the disappointment was all I could feel… and a wry acknowledgement that I was being ungrateful. I almost carried on driving.

Instead, I turned the car up towards Curbar Gap and found a place to park. I had an hour or so before I was meeting my friend in Sheffield… and although the heather was over, I love the moors. It is a place where the earth sparkles with quartz from thousands of years of wind and rain whipping the surface of ancient stone. A place where the cobwebs of the journey and the tatters of my disappointment could survive no more than a moment in face of its beauty.

Only expectations lead to disappointment. I have been blessed by past summers… I had seen the first buds break this year. I let the wind blow away my silliness; I need only be grateful for the beauty I have seen… and for this moment… and enjoy my hour amongst the stones of the high places of the moors that I love. I let disappointment go. I have seen enough heather to bring me joy for a lifetime. To see it just once would be enough to imprint it forever in memory, and yet I have seen it bloom for more than half the summers I have lived. I have walked in it, slept in its fragrance, laughed, loved and learned within its misty haze. I can call it up in my mind’s eye and paint the mountains purple. If I close my eyes and conjure a vision of some personal heaven, it holds the perfumed bluebell woods of spring and the fragrant heather of summer.

And yet… there was heather. Not the great, glorious swathes I had hoped for, but the last, tenacious shreds of beauty, sheltering in the lee of the stones as the wind whipped over the Edge. I walked between the gritstone boulders, drinking in the distant hills and the green of a landscape undaunted by drought. Stern iron skies reached down to embrace the earth and, in that moment, there could be no finer place to be. I was content.

The land is a wonderful teacher. Had I succumbed to the disappointment engendered by expectations, I would not have walked the land here, nor been open to its beauty… nor the heather nestled between the rocks.  As I turned to retrace my steps to the car, a rift opened between the clouds. A stray sunbeam touched the hills below me… and where the sunlight melted the shadows, there was one brief flash of glory that lit the land for me… and the last of the heather.

Clocking off?

The road was calling me north and I couldn’t wait to finish work and give in to its blandishments. The sun was shining and warm, the forecast unusually good for England. The fields were ablaze with the brilliant yellow of rapeseed, the hedgerows, bending beneath the weight of May blossom, awash with wildflowers. Pink campions covered the roadside, pale blue forget-me-nots, bright starry ransom and banks of anemones, and, in the shade of the trees, carpets of bluebells linger. The dandelion clocks swayed in the breeze, sending fairy-like seeds up in clouds to dance beneacth the trees. It was a glorious day.

As my job extends over seven days each week and any day off is deducted from my holiday entitlement, I make the most of these trips north for the monthly meeting of the Silent Eye, so the journey is part of the adventure. Refusing the mind-numbing boredom of the motorways, I have a route I now know so well that I could drive it with my eyes closed, if I didn’t enjoy it so much.

South to north, crossing half a dozen counties, I watch the seasons change. In the south, the roses and summer flowers are starting to bloom and spring is almost over… in the north, the bluebells still flourish and all the eager energy of spring is in the air.

The road, though, sometimes has ideas of its own, and beckons me in new directions. Following some inexplicable impulse, I took a new turning, finding a lake had never seen, where golden gorse tumbled down the hillsides, impossibly bright. There was a village that announced itself as a Saxon settlement, where I was obliged to stop and visit a little Norman church that just happened to smile at me as I drove past… and which contained some rather interesting Norman and Saxon artefacts things, given the current state of our research. As I drove through Matlock, I spotted a perfect prop for next April’s workshop in a shop window too…

When I finally arrived in Sheffield, we spent the evening talking through the workshops and, next morning, the discussions continued until we left for the meeting and throughout the drive across the hills to Sale in Greater Manchester, stopping to check in with a friend on the way, leaving a note when he wasn’t home.

The meeting went very well and proved even more productive than we could have hoped, leaving us with yet another avenue to explore with our latest research. We called in on our friend again and this time, found him at home. We stayed an hour or so, catching up, before crossing the hills once again, watching the sun set over the moors.

Next morning, we got down to some serious work for the June workshop in Dorset. It was thirsty work, so by lunchtime, we had adjourned to the Druid Inn, where we continued over cider in the sunshine.

“What are you teaching with that?” asked the gentleman at the next table who had been listening as we read aloud. We explained, and a lengthy discussion ensued. He and is wife were replaced by another family with similar interests… and, after finishing our work, stroking a stray chicken, and wandering down to the churchyard, we headed out to Matlock to buy that ‘perfect prop’… and then in search of a very late lunch.

Sunday morning, we had arranged to meet a friend who had been with us on the last two workshops and take her to a stone circle. With the access land closed for the nesting season, we had to rethink, and took her to another one instead, where we did some work with the stones… and by the time we all sat down to lunch, it was tea-time and we were shattered. All that remained was to get up at six next morning for the long drive south to work… even though we had, in a different way, been ‘on duty’ all weekend.

It had been a wonderful and productive couple of days and I had thoroughly enjoyed it all, but, as I drove home, I found it amusing to note that our weekend ‘off’ work had been so busy. Then again, they always are. The day job may be a practical necessity, but the work we do the rest of the time never ceases, even when we do no more than talk. In fact, the weekend itself had been a perfect analogy for how the spiritual path, once its call is accepted, pervades every area and moment of life.

Some of the work had been formal and structured, requiring our concerted effort and attention. Some of it had needed no more than the lightest touch, a response to a moment, or listening to the needs of others or the inner promptings that defy logic. Some of it touched our hearts and called up tears… and some of it had been pure joy. But we had not been ‘off duty’ for a moment.

We walk a spiritual path, whether we are aware of it or not. Once you have chosen to do so in awareness, however, there is a shifting of gears and you cannot move blindly on your journey.  In esoteric circles, it is called ‘the Work’ for a reason. There are no boxes, neatly labelled, into which you can pack different aspects of your life, no Monday to Friday or nine-to-five compartments, no slot on the calendar for ‘being spiritual’. It touches every fibre of your being and informs every moment of your life. Even when you ‘get things wrong’, and that is human and inevitable, you will take responsibility and use each mistake as fuel for growth.

Just like the weekend, sometimes the spiritual path calls upon your full attention, sometimes it feels a hard path to walk, sometimes it is but the lightest of touches… and at others, it is pure joy. You are never ‘off duty’… but it is always an adventure.

The road…

I left after work on Thursday, driving north for the last Silent Eye meeting before the April workshop. The sun was shining, the day was balmy… spring had, it seemed, finally sprung after the torrential rain that had battered the land all night. Six counties, several road closures and five hours later, I had driven through spring and back into a watery world where the rain lashed the windscreen faster than the wipers could clear it.

Yet the sun greeted me again as I drove over the Derbyshire hills and into Yorkshire. Traces of white winter lingered in the lee of stone walls where the shadows preserved the last remnants of snow. Daffodils strained at the leash, wanting only a little warmth to burst forth in all their golden glory… and then I hit a wall of fog and I was glad to reach my destination and dinner.

The next day we headed back across the hills to Greater Manchester for the meeting… and later inched our way home, gripping tight to the wheel, as the fog enclosed us. We could see no more than a couple of yards ahead as we drove across the unlit hills on narrow, twisting roads and were grateful to reach the relative safety of the freezing-cold city. And then, as if that wasn’t enough…the next day, it snowed.

It snowed most of the day while we worked, but did not choose to settle until we had ventured out in search of food. Less than an hour over a late lunch and we found the car covered in a thick layer of the white stuff. And then… it snowed some more, squashing the winter pansies in their pots, covering the city in a silent shroud.

We were pretty much stuck, at the mercy of what the weather was doing, and could only wait for the roads to clear just enough for safety before venturing out the next day. The world was beautiful… but, as we essayed the roads I would have to take to drive south, full of dangers.

Roads which seemed passable were soon snow-bound. Vehicles were abandoned in drifts several feet deep. The few inches of powdery snow that had fallen was being whipped by the wind into great, white plumes that heaped fresh hazards on the road and, overnight, the packed snow and slush turned to ice.

The drive home was not an easy one and I could not predict the way I would have to go, but I was determined to get home for my son’s birthday. As long as I stayed on the main roads, it was not too difficult to drive, but beyond Bakewell, the ‘main’ roads are narrow, winding lanes across exposed moors and fields. There was a point at which I should have turned back, were I being sensible…and were there anywhere to turn.  The little car skied and skittered down slopes of packed ice, on roads you could no longer see. I could not take my usual route, but followed the clearest roads, knowing that just a few miles away was a real main road… and that would be clear. Or so I thought.

The main road was clear… except where it wasn’t. Huge drifts of snow, twice as high as the car, bounded the road. Where the wind could blow them, the road was buried. So were the abandoned cars. Such refuge as one would normally find… like the stopping places and pubs… were completely cut off. Once you were on the road, all you could do was drive.

Or stop, when rescue operations blocked the road. There is always a silver lining, if you look for it and there was a bright side to this; parked at the head of a line of waiting traffic, right next to Gib Hill at Arbor Low, was one of the few chances I had to take pictures.

The local farmer hauled the stranded car down from the heap of snow and we set off again. There was little snow on the fields… it all seemed to have congregated in the roadside drifts. This made all the usually-hidden features visible. Standing stones stood out, dark against the white. Old earthworks and medieval ridge-and-furrow fields were easy to see, highlighted by the snow and the rays of the rising sun turned whole swathes of the landscape to silver.

Leaving the hills behind, the roads became less hazardous and I relaxed into the journey.  Driving south, the snow lessened and melted in the warm sun. By the time I left my son’s and finished my day, there was barely a trace of snow to be seen. The weather that had played such a part in the past few days was once again balmy and vernal.

I could not help seeing the analogy with the greater  journey that we take through life. Even if we think we know where we are going, the road always has surprises in store for us. Some of them are beautiful… some hazardous, but all are unpredictable.

There will always be times when we are forced into taking an unplanned route, diverted from our path by force majeur. There will be times when, no matter what we do, the conditions of the journey prevent us from seeing the road ahead. We will be blinded by a deluge of tears, buried beneath the weight of grief or lost in a fog of indecision, not knowing which way to turn.

We will, without a doubt, sometimes feel that we will never reach our destination. But, just as surely, there will be a helping hand to pull us back from the brink… a ray of sunshine through the dark clouds that gather round us, or a moment of beauty to lift the spirits. And somewhere along the way, there will be the warmth and welcome of love.

All journeys have a beginning and an end, though where or when either of those may be, is a question we may never be able to answer. Does a journey begin when you place your foot on the path or long before the decision is made to travel? Does it end when you arrive at your destination, or is that merely a stop on the way? Spring has its beginnings in the deep darkness of winter. Seeds sown in spring will blossom in summer and, in turn, produce their own fruit in autumn.  The road, like the cycle of life is endless…and both will lead us home.

Circles Beyond Time – worlds without borders

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-134

We left Arbor Low and headed back to the village of Monyash and the pub for lunch. Once again, we seemed to have seen and done far more than should be possible in such a short time, slipping across the borders of time and space as if it were perfectly natural. The trouble was that now, as we neared the end of our weekend, there was not a huge amount of time left before everyone would depart, making their separate ways to homes to in far-flung parts of the country. It always amazes me, and touches me deeply, the distances that are travelled by people coming to share these weekends with us. They are not huge, glitzy events… and for at least three of them every year, all we appear to do is go out for a walk…in whatever weather we happen to have. Yet, people travel hundreds…often thousands…of miles to share what we do, regularly coming from as far away as America to take part.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-131

The weekends are open to all…not just members of the School… and their focus is about sharing an experience, whether at the small, informal workshops in the landscape or in the more structured ritual weekends that are held every April. They are an opportunity to get together with people who walk widely different paths, both in everyday life and on their own spiritual journeys. One thing has always stood out for me at gatherings such as these and that is a complete lack of tolerance for the beliefs of others. There is no need for tolerance, which still, when you think about it, implies a judgement. Instead, there is just acceptance, pure and simple, of the validity of every other path. The minister laughs with the witch, the shaman with the Qabalist and the druid with the Taoist. There are no borders, no boundaries, no social divides and no prejudice…just a desire to share and learn from each other.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-136

Spirituality is not about looking the part, it is about living it. There is a kindness, an openness and a generosity of spirit that characterises those who have set their feet on their chosen path and turned towards the light that guides them. It is in this, as much as anything we do, that we see the true beauty of the gatherings.

It was a warm and happy group that sat down to that final lunch at the Bull, but all too soon it was time to depart. Here too there is something curious, because the bonds of friendship are freely given and although there may be regret that there is not more time and few of know when we will next meet, there is an ease about such moments; as if our accustomed normality has paused for a while and we return to it enriched by our sojourn in a different world…a world that will take up its conversations as if we had never left should we return to it.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-130

Soon, only Stuart and I were left. It is a curious feeling when you have organised one of these gatherings and the companions have dispersed. There was only one thing we could do… we drove back to Curbar, bought ourselves a well-earned ice-cream and went to lie in the last of the heather.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-133

We would particularly like to thank author Helen Jones, who joined us for the weekend, for sharing her own account of our adventures. It is one thing for us to tell the story, but quite another to be able to share such a comprehensive and beautiful account written by someone who had come along to her first weekend workshop with us. We hope it won’t be her last. You can read Helen’s account on her blog: Please click here for parts one, two, three, four, five , six and seven.

Anglesey screen grab for WordPress

If you have enjoyed reading about this weekend workshop, why not come and join us if you can? Our next weekend in the landscape will be held on the Isle of Anglesey and runs from 2nd-4th December.

Click here or on the image to read the brochure.

Circles Beyond Time – Convoy

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-049

We left Higger Tor after the sunrise and headed back to our respective breakfasts. Most would have to pack their bags too, before gathering for a final journey together. We were the lucky ones with time to spare and a drive back across the moors into the edges of the city. The early morning light was beautiful, though the first hint of autumn was showing in the iridescence of the clouds and the turning colours of the moor. For most of the year these high, wild places wear the colours of autumn… the russet, copper and pale gold that anywhere else would mean a sleeping time. It is only for a few brief weeks in late summer that they dress in amethyst and emerald and show their true colours. It matters little to me… though the heather makes my soul sing, it is the heart if the high places that speaks to mine.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-109

We gathered in the car park, most of us taking advantage of the clear, bright morning to capture last shots of Carl Wark where we had begun the journey so short a time before. A lot happens on these weekends and time seems to bear little relation to how much we manage to see, do and experience. As the party would be breaking up after lunch some miles away, we had ourselves a convoy as we headed back across the moors, passing Barbrook and Gardom’s and then onwards into territory we had yet to share.

circles-time-higger-gardom-arbor-carl-wark-barbrook-rowtor-dawn-111

It is times like these that I don’t want a convoy… I want a mini-bus. “Over there to your left you can see the traces of the medieval ridge-and-furrow field system,” ” to your right you will see Devil’s Drop, officially known as Peter’s Rock, that features heavily in the Doomsday books,” “on the horizon you can see the huge hillfort above Great Hucklow where we hold our annual ritual workshop…” So many things I would have liked to point out and share… but there is only so much you can do. At least we could stop halfway and tell a tale or two.

fin-cop-1

So we stopped at Monsal Head and looked out over the valley so high above sea level now, but whose rocks are made from petrified coral,  waiting for ice-cream and we told the legend of the beautiful shepherdess, Hedessa and the misshapen giant, Hulac Warren, who had loved her and of how she fell to her death to escape him…and how, where she fell, a healing spring welled from the ground. And we showed them where to look to see the giant’s form in the rocks.

snow weekend 004

And we told them of the tragedy of Fin Cop, an enigmatic site upon the top of the hill. There too, like Carl Wark, there are walls that were built to protect an ancient enclosure. The wall stood ten feet high and in front of it was a deep trench and wide embankment. Yet it did not stop those who came with murderous intent. They took the plateau, a place of women and small children, toppling the walls upon their  victims, it seems. One of them was either heavily pregnant or bore a new-born child. Their bones were found beneath the stones.

fin-cop-2

The ice-cream was still not forthcoming and time was getting short. There would be no time on this to do more than look at the valley from our vantage point, which was a shame as there is a lot  to see here. Through the valley, the river winds; in places, wide and slow, in others magical and strewn with flowers. There is even a waterfall…and high on the hillside, a fairy castle…or so it seems… that hides a cave where yet another skeleton was found. To look at the beauty of the place, you would never guess that it hides such tragedy… yet that too is a lesson and is true of many faces, not just places.

river wye weir

We piled back into the cars and headed off on the final leg of our journey, leaving the heather and bracken behind and entering into the other Derbyshire, of rolling green hills and dry stone walls. It is a very different landscape, yet you can see it shares a common ancestry with the high places, where the pale rocks thrust through the green of the fields. We were heading for the great stone circle of Arbor Low…

 Arbor Low and Stanton Moor Imbolc 001 (11)