Thursday, 17 January 2013

Down to the water


Whilst walking in Hardcastle Crags and the vale of Callis Water last weekend, I came to a somewhat obvious realisation that water is a constant presence in these valleys. Any Calder Valley dwellers reading this may well immediately think of the rain and general wetness at this point, but I'm also talking about   watercourses. Tumbling and  trickling from high ground to low or rumbling along valley floors, the streams and rivers of this place are never far from sight or earshot.












I mused that most long walks here will, sooner or later, bring you within sight or sound of moving water. These waterways are the veins and arteries of the map and being beside them stirs our own blood in kinship; the pounding of water on rock quickening the pulse. In the Crags and I'm guessing elsewhere, many of these walks have changed of late; heavy rainfall has made stream beds of the paths, some of which are now no more than deep stony scars, treacherous for little legs and tired ankles. The destructive power of water is clearly evident across this landscape.






Throughout our beloved valleys,  fragile walls have slipped and fallen in great hunks of earth and root, leaving brutally sheared ground and gritty stalagmites. Seemingly immovable trees have toppled like skittles and lie across the land like vanquished nobility, unsettling in their revealed vulnerability. I heard one of these great capitulations in the night at the start of winter, the sound was like the cracking of rock followed by the breaking of a thousand branches. Listening in the dark I felt more than just fear and shock, there was foreboding too - a sense of the natural world shifting in unnatural ways.




All this serves to remind us that water ever was and is an unstoppable agent of change. Heavy rainfall, dramatic floods and tidal waves or simply the constant call of 'onwards'. Rivers and streams pulsing ever on and out, dragging with them all that comes too close to their edges; particles pulled on an involuntary journey of transformation.




I wonder what this means for those of us surrounded by constant moving water. It seems that we too are pulled to and along it; awed and comforted in equal measure by our watery companions. I know that I have sought solace and peace by the side of the river, casting troubles and wishes onto its indifference, but I've also found strength and renewed energy  from its tireless journeying.

On the day pictured here I was drawn to the light that was reflected on the surface of the water; down at the very bottom of this dark valley was the sky, with some new silvery quality that I had missed. The tops of the trees were there too, proudly framed like photographs. This is what has stayed with me, this was the river's parting gift - the reminder to look up and look out but do remember to watch where you're going.









6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful, beautiful words!! And so very true! I was struck from the beginning when I came to these valleys by the water everywhere. I had tried, without much success to find water in my former home, Gloucestershire only to find it here in such abundance! And with it the wonders of the birds, ducks, water plants... amazing!! You are also amazing! And such a great writer, I so enjoy reading your blog. thank you xx

Selina Gough said...

Who are you mystery commenter? You sound like you might be a real life friend...

Melanie said...

Selina, this is such a beautiful post - full of wonderful reflections (both on the water and of the mind!) I love the way your words and photos took me on a journey through all the complexities of our relationship with water - leaving me with such a strong and special impression of 'the river's parting gift' - and of the sky at the bottom of the valley. Lovely, lovely writing.

Selina Gough said...

Melanie, thank you. Such generous words. I really need to keep up with your own writing but just finding it hard to carve out time at the moment. I'll definitely 'visit' soon.

julianhoffman said...

Thanks for this evocative journey back to Hardcastle Crags, a favourite place of mine when I lived in the area. You capture the mercurial beauty of water so wonderfully, in both words and images.

Selina Gough said...

Mercurial yes! I've got so many pictures of all the streams and rivers of this place I could write a water post every week...glad you liked it Julian