Water-Circle+Cross (2) “… a spell that changed my life.”

In 1930, a 23 year old accountant from Blackburn arrived by train in the small town of Windermere, high above the lake that shares its name. He asked the way to the ancient path that climbed from the edge of the main road (what is now the busy A591) and, fastening his battered tweed jacket against the stiff breeze, strode up to the peak.

Less than an hour later, he stood on Orrest Head; well known to local farmers as a ‘sheep trod’, and familiar to fell-runners and lovers… but otherwise little celebrated.

He stayed until the fading light drove him down the mountain.

He was later to write:

“Those few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life…“

(Above: a tribute to Alfred Wainwright in a local pub (Keswick) that bears his name)

The man’s name was Alfred Wainwright. He was to become the celebrated chronicler of Lakeland’s footpaths and ‘high-ways’, increasing its popularity a hundredfold via his extensive series of hand-drawn manuscripts – text and all.

(Alfred Wainright, walker and writer)
(Above: my trusty and somewhat faded collection of Wainwright’s walkers’ guides)

He would walk and photograph (in black and white) during the summer, then spend the winter writing up each page in faithful drawings and hand-written text.

(Above: held open by my ancient penknife, an example of the Care Wainwright took to render his walks into illustrated, hand-drawn pages)

And now our group had a chance to share the power of Wainwright’s moment on this most accessible of the high fells that overlook Lake Windermere.

Earlier in the day, when the ferry had returned us from the Claife Viewing Platform, we drove in two of the cars up the hill to the town of Windermere; the place from which the lake takes its name, even though the water is a mile down the hill – under the alias of Bowness-on-Windermere. It causes confusion and we often need to point out the discrepancy along with the humour…

(Above: Windermere town is a beautiful place in its own right; and offers a range of individual shops)

There, we walked through the pleasant streets in the afternoon sun. It’s often overlooked in favour of the more bustling neighbour – Bowness-on-Windermere, but is worthy of a visit in its own right.

At the top of the town – literally – and crossing the busy A591, we entered a different world, by way of an access lane that provides a map of the ascent ahead.

(Above: The information board shows the two main paths up from Windermere town to Orrest Head)

As soon as we began the climb, we once again marvelled at the ‘fresh’ green glory that is May in these parts. Sunshine is not guaranteed, but for the whole of our weekend, was in abundance.

(Above: the beginning of the ascent…things get steeper from here)

For the Friday afternoon of these weekends, we are always conscious that people may have travelled a long way to join us. So each of the introductory activities needs to be short – compared with the main events of the Saturday to follow.

(The track upwards: level in parts but not in others…)
(And suddenly you are there…)

The walk up Orrest Head is through cooling forest paths, with a few short-cuts for those familiar with the terrain. The emergence onto the plateau at the peak is spectacular, and, as guide, you see everyone turning around in wonder at the height achieved in such a short time.

(Above: That ‘top of the world’ feeling)
(Windermere town)

In truth, the car does most of the work. The small town of Windermere, itself, sits high above the lake, which is why the railway station is located here, and the line can go no further down what would be a steep gradient.

(Above: The view northwards to the Fairfield Horsehoe – the corrie from which the glaciers created the northern half of Lake Windermere)
(And the views extend eastwards, too: Yorkshire in the distance)

“Surround yourself with beauty and the rest will happen’

We had chosen this aphorism as a spoken ‘call’ to gather the Companions in order to switch our focus from landscape explorers to explorers of our inner natures. There was no doubting the beauty around us; now it was time to let nature’s restoration of our energies help us with a process of emotional self-discovery – the focus of the Water-Circle+Cross weekend.

(Above: the gift of an empty cotton bag)

In the upper level of the Claife Viewing station, we had given everyone an empty cotton bag, and invited them to take (blind) a polished stone from a larger ‘mother’ bag.

(Above: wood and stone – a wide selection of stones were contained, unseen, in the ‘mother’ bag from which individual selections were made throughout the weekend)

There are many approaches to the discovery and refinement of the energy flows in our bodies. We can speak of chakras, psychic centres or just ‘centres’ themselves. Faster progress can often be made by simplifying this ‘map’ into three: Belly, Heart and Head.

Day One of our workshop was all about ‘Belly’, the place that is both access point and governor of the turgid energies that rise from the physical earth and up into our limbs, concentrating their presence at the sacral and sexual locations in the body, ready for use when directed by the higher centres…or not.

Understanding these energies is important to the development of the ‘higher emotions’.

Over the weekend, three stones were to be selected; one for each day. These were picked ‘blind’ from the mother bag and placed into our own small pouches.

(The first stone – the belly centre)

Now, high on Orrest Head, we performed a short exercise to link the first of these stones with our belly centre; linked in such a way that we had only to hold the stone to feel a warmth and resonance in the bodily locus. The exercise also directed us to keep a mental and emotional ‘hold’ on both stone and its centre as we descended from the beauty of the peak.

In this way, the energy of the day remained with us as though ‘distilled’ by our efforts.

We descended in relative silence. Each person rich with the day’s golden sun and the infusion of emotional energies reaching up from the belly in the form of a spiritual ‘rising love’. Its further journey would begin on the following morning, at the start of the Saturday – the day of the greatest adventure, during which a lot would be asked of the group – and even more would be returned by the sheer beauty of what we were to experience.

(Above: Looking across the lake to ‘tomorrow’; as yet a mystery to the group, the several miles of Claife Heights on the western shore of Lake Windermere was our destination and our path for the long day to come…)

As I took my leave of the peak at Orrest Head, I looked across Lake Windermere to the long ridge that spanned most of the length of its western shore. It was named Claife Heights, and I proffered it a heartfelt wish that the Saturday should go well, and that we would find ourselves, successfully, on an unexpected shore at the close of the day…

(And then it was time to descend from this beautiful place)
(Above: Returned to Windermere town and looking forward to our dinner and perhaps a drink. Three of the group looking happy with the day)

Balance is important…vitally important. We were in need of a good ‘earthy evening’ to centre us and let us come down from the internal heights. We had selected a pub in Windermere town that had a ‘wacky’ reputation… and an excellent selection of wines and local ales. Drivers aside, the rest of the Companions sampled the wares with lots of fun. We all returned to our homes, hotels or guest-houses smiling and not too much the worse for wear.

(Above: Briony – a regular attender at our workshops – leads the sampling of local ales inside The Crafty Baa…)

My car will seat five, so I did most of the shuttling and little of the drinking, taking my enjoyment from the satisfied smiles on the faces of all present, before driving home to Kendal.

It had gone well. But we had only just started…

(Above: our evening watering hole – the wacky Crafty Baa), family-run and hand converted from an older pub using only materials found on-site. The beer was great, even if I only got to have a half…)

To be continued in Part Three

This is Part Two

Part One is here….

Amazon link to the complete Wainwright Guides.

Guardian article on the return of the books to local publishing in Lakeland.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Wander Wood #phoetry

And is there time in wander wood

Or slow, abiding, gentle ‘should’

Without resistance: touch and kiss

A reaching for midsummer’s bliss

So powerful this May surprise

I need not leave my seat – just close my eyes

To wander in the wonder wood

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Sunrise at Amlwch

Each May and November, we like to spend a few days on the Welsh island of Anglesey.

It’s hard to say what draws us back, year after year, but there is a certain tranquility and peace about the place.

The hotel we stay at is a former farm, run by a brother and sister who inherited the place and set about making it one of the best small hotels on the island.

We left for home this morning, early, in order to avoid the holiday traffic coming up the M6 to Cumbria. While most of the world was still waking, I took the collie out into the garden for her morning necessities.

And there the sun was, rising over the silhouette of Amlwch church in the near distance. a moment of peace and intensity that I hope never to forget.

The iPhone was not the best tool to attempt a telephoto shot of this nature, but the result had a degree of character. The more I looked at it the more I found it an accurate emotional record of a special moment.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Water-Circle+Cross (1) Coffee under the old woman’s claife

What’s a claife? Actually a Claife… we’ll get to that.

The Silent Eye’s spring workshop (SE23) began in glorious May sunshine, as those attending – our companions – began to arrive and assemble around a triangular picnic table on the quayside at Ferry Nab, a short distance south of Bowness-on-Windermere.

(Above: the Companions begin to gather near the lake’s edge)

Once complete, our happy band of explorers were led down to the ferry point at Ferry Nab.

(Above: Lake Windermere, showing the ferry route from Ferry Nab, our meeting point, to Far Sawrey on the West Bank. The dark green area is Claife Heights)
(It’s a short walk to the Ferry and its ten-minute journey across this narrow part of Lake Windermere)

We crossed the lake via the chain-link ferry: a substantial boat that pulls itself along the water via gears attached to a large chain that lives on the lake bed until the machine hauls it up and over the cogs. It’s a common design for such short-hop distances, and usually reliable.

A decade ago, the chain snapped and the ferry drifted off down the lake, completely unable to propel itself, and awaiting rescue from a powerful private craft chartered for the occasion. No-one was harmed!

(We were not the only ones eager to embark – the start of Claife Heights is visible on the far bank)
(There are photographs of older ferries on this route: things were not always this robust!)
(Above: a short walk away, the former Ferry Cottage is now home to the best coffee on Lake Windermere’s western shore, in its modern incarnation as Joey’s Cafe)

Having crossed the lake, we were sitting on two of the outside tables of the renowned Joey’s Cafe – one of two such cafes on the western shore of Windermere. Above us, a fascinating Victorian structure guarded the entrance path to Claife Heights – our destination for the ‘big day’ to follow on Saturday.

We had plans to explore this Victorian outlier as a gentle first step of our weekend. There would be much walking on the Saturday.

We had selected another high destination for the arrival day (Friday afternoon), but the cars would do a lot of the work. Many of those attending had driven a long way – one from Suffolk – and, as organisers, we needed to provide a gentle introduction….

Coffee. Good coffee and lots of it!

Crossing a lake this size may seem an extreme measure – just to get a cup of coffee, but Joey’s coffee is worth it…

Water has always been linked – in the imagination and in our minds – with emotion. We were to spend a weekend exploring the different facets of this beautiful ‘element’ in our lives.

Plus, the cost of the ferry’s ten-minute ride is a mere £1.00 for foot passengers. Most importantly, by going there and back again, we got to undertake two crossings of the symbolic ‘water’, as in Water-Circle+Cross, the title and theme of the workshop.

(Above: Water-Circle+Cross)

Windermere is England’s largest lake, and we were to cover its entire perimeter over the next three days… The weather was superb; the very best that May can offer. Everything was set for sharing, enjoying, and a little bit of learning.

(Above: Windermere is a large lake – 10.5 miles long. We would get to know it well)
(William Wordsworth enjoyed this view, and wrote about it in his diaries)

William Wordsworth knew this side of Windermere well. He was born and educated in the Lake District. Giving directions to Henry Crabb Robinson in 1816, Wordsworth wrote:

“Put yourself under the guidance of an old woman, who will come out to meet you if you ring or call for her at a fantastic sort of gateway; an appurtenance to a pleasure house called the Station.”

We may have lost the use of ‘appurtenance’, but it’s worthy of a revisit.

(Above: historic photograph of Wordsworth’s ‘old woman’s’ house – also known as Ferry Cottage)

Joey’s Cafe, sited at what was the ‘old woman’s’ Ferry Cottage, is part of the historical structure that we were due to explore. It has seen many incarnations. Its modern life as a quality cafe is much appreciated by walkers like ourselves. We have to thank the venerable ‘old woman’ – whoever she was- for impressing the importance of her role on history.

Coffee finished, we walked up the track to explore the historical Claife Viewing Station, the place for which the ‘old woman’ had been the gatekeeper. Claife Heights is the high fell above here that runs half the length of the lake.

The viewing station was the large construction above us which looks out over the beauty of Lake Windermere. Visitors need to climb in an ascending circle to get to its ‘platform’. But when they do, the effort is instantly forgotten…

(Above: a dark, castle-like structure becomes visible above the trees on the curving track)
The dark structure only makes sense when you see the plan and elevation views. See below)
(Above: plan and elevation of the design)
(Above: the views of Windermere are stunning)

(Above: the views were considered too powerful for visitors to see without guidance. To this end they were supplemented by leaded glass panels and colour coded:

• Yellow to provoke thoughts of summer

• Orange to provoke thoughts of autumn

• Light green for spring

• Light blue for winter

• Dark Blue to suggest moonlight

• Lilac to conjure thoughts of a thunderstorm

It was almost too much to take in with one visit. we stood facing the natural beauty of Windermere and simply drank the vistas, letting their beauty affect the emotions of the ‘now’.

All this… and the Friday afternoon was only part way through.

To be continued in Part Two.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

From Windermere to Sedgwick

(Above: memories of Ambleside fresh in our minds, we returned home to the environs of Kendal)

We have just needed the Silent Eye’s ‘Water-Circle+Cross’ weekend, which took place a forty minute journey away, on the shores of Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake.

The weekend had gone well; better than expected, in fact, and I will be writing up each of the days over the next couple of weeks. Our friend, Dean, had been staying with us and was due to return to northern Scotland on Tuesday, so we had time to relax for a couple of days and enjoy the ‘glow’ of an event that had exceeded expectations, especially the fulsome May weather, bringing us bright sunshine for each of the three days.

(Lake Windermere from Gummer’s How – our final walk of the workshop)

On returning to the house from the final journey – to the Gummer’s How peak, overlooking Waterside (photo above) we took Tess the collie out for a circular walk around Sedgwick and along a section of the river Kent.

Local landscapes tend to feel ‘flat’ after such excitement, but the quality of the light in the village made the ninety minute dog-walk very pleasant. The richness of the abundant local Hawthorn blossom was everywhere, and brightened the photos even further.

(Abundant with Hawthorn blossom, the first of the bridges was as dramatic as any of the sights near Windermere)

The open fields give way to the local forest, and the redolent greens of May deepen in the shadows.

(Above – according to local folklore, the arching leaves of this tree produce a canopy for the fairy folk in the forest…)

The forest behind us, we switch paths and descend to the banks of the river, one of the collie’s favourite places.

(Above: the gorge of the Kent takes on new brightness in May)

And then it’s a climb across two large fields and a small lane to regain the level of the old canal and the second of our ‘bridges to nowhere’ – Bridge No. 178.

(The collie’s nose and one of the old iron gates of the former gunpowder estate)
(Above: Bridge 178, resplendent with Hawthorne blossom)

The final section is a level path along the old canal, which – though drained – is still visible. Here is a good place to photograph the early evening sky and admire its changing spectrum of colour.

(Our final image: the fading light fills the sky with secondary pastels)

The ‘Water-Circle+Cross’ workshop, which took place on the weekend on 19-21 May, 2023, will be documented in the posts that follow.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Poet, Philosopher and …

St Peter’s Church, Heysham, is simply beautiful. I’ve written about it, before. But there’s a rumour that something unusual is hidden on one of the gravestones.

Equipped with the knowledge that its existence is real, we go looking…

Past the flower gardens with the hidden benches. Down the slope towards the sea, but stop…

Beside the grave that seems to be visited more than others. And peer at the lettering around the base.

Where it says, quite clearly, and written by his wife…

(Poet, Philosopher and … Failure)

Poet, Philosopher and … Failure.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

A LAP with the Gods

4:30 wake up, 5 a.m. leaving, 5:30 a.m. breakfast, 6 a.m start…

It was the final communication before they set off…

(06:00 The Lap begins in mist. Only 47 miles to go)

With 47 miles of gruelling mountain trail ahead, our intrepid walking companions – John and Angela, launched themselves into the dawn of a beautiful May morning, along with hundreds of other walkers, each determined to pit themselves against an entire circuit of all the hills immediately surrounding Lake Windermere – England’s largest lake.

There is increasing interest in the undertaking of what have become know as ultra-marathons. These attract both runners and walkers, who battle against the demands of energy and endurance as they attempt the enormous undertaking.

(Above: the ‘sky-view’ shortly after the start of the LAP at Far Sawrey)

It’s difficult to go from ordinary local walks to, say, a 24 hour race of this nature. The LAP 24 hour race (of Lake Windermere’s surrounding hills) was created to offer a ‘gateway’ event for runners and walkers to step up to the level of ‘ultra marathon’, but within an infrastructure of support in the form of online navigation, food and real-time tracking.

(Above:; from the LAP’s own website; the demanding route around Lake Windermere, and the online monitoring available to all)

Safety and support are provided via five fully stocked food and drink way-stations along a route that circumnavigates Lake Windermere – Lakeland’s gem and Englands’ largest lake. There is no danger of running out of fluids … or calories.

(Above: one of 1,600 way markers)

The fully signposted route – with no less than 1,600 route marking arrows – is a challenging 47 miles long and follows some of the most stunning, runnable/walkable trails in the Lake District; many of them taking in the best views and vistas that the region has to offer.

(Above: leaving the ‘surface world’ behind, the walkers enter a different place, high above the lake that defines the landscape. Windermere below. The Roman road High Street crosses the north-south peaks in the distance)

At the half-way point there is even a bag-drop station, allowing a flannel-wash and refresh of clothing without the imposition of extra weight.

(Claife Heights – the long ridge that runs up the west of Windermere and from which you can see right across to the Landales)

For those who finish there is a free meal and a medal made locally from fine wood.

(High above the chain-link ferry just south of Bowness, on the West Bank of the lake)

The course has been cleverly created with the intent of attracting both those who know they can cope with this distance and also those who want to test themselves and see how far they can – safely – get.

(Above: the online tracker locates our friends)

Remarkably, those supporting the brave souls actually walking or running this vast distance are able to follow their progress via GPS tracking signals and mapping software. The result is an ‘eye in the sky’ experience that unites walker and supporters via a phone or computer screen. The signals are generated by an electronic tag attached to each competitor’s bag or clothes at the start of the race.

(Above: an ‘eye in the sky’ experience for those supporting)

Those taking part have an eye-watering 24 hours to navigate the course around this most beautiful of England’s large lakes. This sounds generous but slow progress would entail walking through the day and night – a daunting prospect when you’re very tired and one that may not be safe.

(Above: climb, descend and climb again, as each of the seven peaks passes under your sturdy boots!)

For this reason, there is a focus during the second half of the walk – from Troutbeck onwards – on forecasting each competitor’s finishing time and counselling continuation or retirement.

(Above: never far away, the ferries of Lake Windermere tantalise with an alternative and gentler form of travel!)

Our friends had done really well, considering this was their first attempt at such a gruelling challenge. They had already traversed Claife Heights, Loughrigg Terrace and Wansfell Pike before descending to the way-station at Troutbeck.

(Above: by the check-in point at Troutbeck, the tiredness of nearly twelve hours of continuous walking was taking its toll… A large group of walkers were considering their options beneath a sun that was rapidly setting)
(Above: Angela’s digital pedometer shows nearly 57,000 steps…)

They consulted the guides at the way-station, then each other, and laughing good-naturedly, decided to take the sensible option, and retire.

(The view northwards from Troutbeck… Why would you want to walk further? The giant horseshoe of Fairfield, behind, is not included in the LAP!)

They plan to return next year, battle-tried and more experienced at the distance, to pit their determination against the beautiful peaks of the LAP event.

Angela later said, “Although we didn’t finish the race, we could think of no finer way to spend a day in the sunshine. It was truly beautiful up there…”

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

#Phoetry – Stone Fortress Mind

Beneath the skies of blue that ache with white-kissed beauty

Beside the meadows’ deeper green that brightens every day

Beyond the water’s vastness blown by breezes on a million waves

She waits for him to end his stone-faced exile.

#Phoetry is a hashtag amalgamation of the words Photography and Poetry, a form of visual and poetic communication.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Light in the Midnight Garden

Why would I be out in the garden at midnight?

Good question. It’s the collie, you see. A good night’s sleep is greatly assisted by a dog who’s gone wee wees just before we all retire.

It often falls to me, as I’m a bit of a night-owl. So out we go. And I have to walk around with Tess, because she’s clever enough to pretend the business has been done then sneak back in.

There’s something about the light in May. It has a ‘beginning of the summer’ lushness.

And there it was; a small light from the corner of the house throwing a slight curve of illumination over the newly filled-out herb bed with a faint ghost of light fading its way up the path towards the old outbuilding.

Dog restored to the house, I returned smiling and feeling stealthy. Sometimes the ‘mood’ of the darkness changes from moment to moment.

But it hadn’t…

I jammed the iPhone against the brickwork of the house and fired off shot after shot, trying different framing.

I stared at the results for a while … then decided to share the best one here. I hope you like it and its mood.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Following the curves of the Kent

The sky was blue and windswept. The clouds had a definite formation to them. They were pointing at the nearest part of the coast, their central blue line line exactly mirroring the River Kent, whose last two miles curve through Levens Park, ancestral home of the Bagot Family.

We are fortunate in the village of Sedgwick to have two points of access to Levens Park. The line of the old canal – built in the 1820s but now either filled in or an empty ‘half-pipe’ in the farming landscape – cuts right through the village, and the canal path takes you to within two minutes’ walk of the stile at the Levens estate’s northern edge.

(Above: a section of the old canal. Drained in the 1950s but still here… Protected by an act of parliament as a ‘navigation’, no-one can build on it…)

We follow the high ridge out of the village and past my favourite oak tree, now coming into leaf.

(Coming into leaf- my favourite oak – along the ‘high-line’ of the old canal)

The high path of the old canal divides. We take the lower track which plunges down to a gate that opens to a local road.

(Above: The canal route is now left behind as we draw near to the boundary into the Leven’s estate)
(Above: Coastal South-Lakeland – the dotted red area shows the location of the Levens Park Estate)

Immediately, we hear the tyre roar from the giant cut in the landscape. The sheer size and presence of the A590 is a stark contrast to the quiet fields of our stroll so far. There’s a sense that it doesn’t belong … and yet it does. It’s an absolute lifeline for those living in these parts.

(Above: the imposing A590 is the main link between the busy M6 motorway and the southern part of the Lake District and its major tourist towns: Kendal, Bowness, and Ambleside)

Passing over the dual carriageway, we cross over a stepped stile that Tess has learnt to navigate. I remember the panic in her eyes when she first saw it as a pup. These days, she can manage the whole thing by herself – which she now proudly demonstrates…

(Above: Tess the collie getting into the swing of things)

The north end of Levens Park is famous for its Bagot Goats – a rare breed named after the ancestral family who now breed them. They are known to be inquisitive and relatively fearless, as they proceed to demonstrate.

(Above: We are approached by the local ‘Bagots’!)

The central sweep of Leven’s Park is defined by two features that mirror each other: the River Kent, in its last mile before it flows out into Morecambe Bay; and the central avenue of tall trees that line the main track through the estate.

(Above: Defining features of this landscape)
(The trees will soon look like this – photo from 2020)
(Old and mighty)

Far below the tree line, the River Kent bends itself around the hill as it enters its final stage as water defined by land… Soon it will be water defined by water.

(The landscape changes – softens, as though taking an in-breath)

I have one final duty before we exit the riverside park – to take Tess for a stone-chuck down by the river. She knows full well she’s never going to find the vanishing pebbles, but barks and dashes as though she intends to return each of them.

(Above: the place where Tess howls and charges after stones thrown in the river)

And then its a scramble up to the path, again, via a giant and venerable tree with a vast root system spreading down towards the water.

(Above: one of the ancient trees that has come to define the slope between path and river)

The park ends with a steep climb up steps that were not designed for man and dog…with a narrow pavement that risks dropping the unwary onto the busy trunk road!

(And that gate is a dangerous place to enter the proximity of the busy A6)
(Crossing the busy A6 – the main route to Scotland, before the motorway system. Not a safe place for pedestrians – and no zebra crossing!)

And then we’re into the safety of Levens Hall with the main building lying to our left, behind the wall.

(Above: the newly restored north-wing of Levens Hall)
(Above: a kind of red-carpet.. at least for our eyes. You have to pay to enter here, but we only need the courtyard cafe)

The first house on the estate was built by the Redman family in the 14th century as a defensive tower – known as a Pele Tower. These were tall structures of refuge to offer protection against the constant raids from border ‘Reivers’. Often, as here, they were built first – before the main dwelling; such was the importance of a place of safety alongside the dwelling place.

(Above: clear sight of the original ‘Pele Tower’ structure at the heart of Levens Hall)

Much of the present hall at Levens dates from the Elizabethan era – including the fabulous topiary gardens.

(Above – undoubtedly a subject for a future blog: one of the few surviving Elizabethan gardens in Britain)

For now, I’m content to savour that final look at the River Kent as its enters the tidal flow…

(Above: the River Kent ceases to become a river…)

And await that much-needed latté…

(Coffee will be along shortly..)

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Emotional journey of the Deep-Me (Part 1)

(Image by the author)

The spiritual quest is simple: we need to:

(1) Recognise that, in our present ‘state of mind’ we are not as we could be.

(2) Begin to follow those ‘inklings’ within us to a new ‘Kingdom-Queendom of me’.

(3) Keep our eyes – and minds – open for clues that may provide simple or substantial course-corrections.

(4) Observe everything as though the end of this day were the end of our life…

Simple then… But we may need some help.

There are some deeply helpful tools in our kitbag that can help us take what may seem an initially unsettling journey.

One of these is the EMOTIONS.

Emotions are the movements of energies within us. We are elated when they move in one way and depressed when they move in another but the whole framework of their movements belongs to us.

And our reaction to them governs everything…

All of this means we have carefully crafted our negative emotions…

Emotional energy is one of the greatest allies we can have to propel our progress to the Deep-Me.

We are not used to the influx of ‘right-energy’ from within us.

When it first comes, it’s like an infusion of the most delicious optimism, and there is no doubt it belongs to ‘you’.

In posts that follow, we will explore the elements and steps of this journey. The content will mirror the stages of the Water-Circle+Cross workshop on the weekend on 19-21 May. For more details contact us on Rivingtide@gmail.com.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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

Been there…

You may not have been there…

You may not be a ‘dog person’. Heaven knows I wasn’t.

Cats were my thing. A lifetime of cats; beautiful furry, purry creatures that are haughty and mysterious and can manipulate space, time … and place, when you’re looking for them.

But few of them would wait by your side when you’re having a sandwich in the garden of a country pub.

And none of them will sneak under the table when you’ve dropped your napkin…

To offer it back to you.

©Stephen Tanham 2023

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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