Category: Ancient Landscapes

The City and the Stars (9-end) : the most peaceful place in the world

The conclusion of the Silent Eye’s extended workshop to Orkney. A visit to the neighbouring island of Rousay. A sad disappointment and a wonderful surprise. (1500 words, a twelve-minute read) (Above: a modern reconstruction of a Neolithic farmer felling a tree with a hand-made stone axe) For our final day, we were off to the Island of Rousay.. I’ve written, elsewhere, about what it’s … Read More The City and the Stars (9-end) : the most peaceful place in the world

The City and the Stars (8) : Longships

The traditional picture of the Vikings – looting, marauding, raping invaders – may not be entirely true of their time on Orkney, though they did rule this gentle archipelago with an iron fist for five hundred years… (1300 words, a ten-minute read) (Above: the glory of St Magnus (Viking) Cathedral, Kirkwall) History can be complex. Patterns of events that fit in one situation may … Read More The City and the Stars (8) : Longships

Mellow moods for Autumn (9) end of season

As autumn gives way to winter, different aspects of nature create new opportunities for photography… (300 words. A three-minute read) (Above: the shores of Lake Windermere – a winter favourite to come) Photographically, I prefer the UK Met Office’s guidance on the dates for the beginning of each season. In this convention, winter’s start is the first day of December, so this will be … Read More Mellow moods for Autumn (9) end of season

Mellow moods for Autumn (8) the Levens Estate

When the leaves have all but gone, nature still has one or two colourful surprises left. (220 words. A two-minute read) Rivers are beautiful at any time of year. This one, the River Kent, flows through Levens Park on its final mile to the sea, joining three other rivers in its outfall into the north end of Morecambe Bay Levens Park is the ancestral … Read More Mellow moods for Autumn (8) the Levens Estate

The City and the Stars (2) : The Houses of Skara Brae

Skara Brae’s modern story began in 1850 when a violent sea-storm tore off the layers of grass, sand and soil that had covered what appeared to be two ancient and completely intact Neolithic houses. For 4,000 years, they had been lost to history, having been mysteriously abandoned. (1000 words, a ten-minute read) The local landowner at the time was William Watt, who lived at … Read More The City and the Stars (2) : The Houses of Skara Brae

Mellow moods for Autumn (7) Bonfire

There’s something wonderful about an autumn bonfire. It brightens the darkening evenings, and mirrors an inner process taking place as we respond to the end of the bright months… (300 words; a two minute read) We had ‘light from Nature’ during the long and bright months of the summer. We didn’t have to do anything to be a part of it, just step outside, … Read More Mellow moods for Autumn (7) Bonfire

The City and the Stars (1)

With the Pictish Trail weekend a long car journey and a boat ride behind us, we had awakened in Stromness to the early morning of an overcast Orkney day – The excavated and intact Neolithic village of Skara Brae was a few short miles away… (1300 words, a ten-minute read) We had not expected to be here at all. Visiting Orkney for the second … Read More The City and the Stars (1)

Mellow moods for Autumn (6) Misty Gorge

If you’re a canoeist, the half-mile of the River Kent that descends, thunderously, through the limestone levels of this part of Cumbria is well known as an extreme test of skill… but there are other reasons to visit… (400 words; a five minute read) Our village, Sedgwick, owes its existence to the River Kent, which rises in the southern Lakeland mountains around Kentmere and … Read More Mellow moods for Autumn (6) Misty Gorge

Bridges of Stone and Heart

The emotional story of an unusual wartime chapel on Orkney reveals a different type of heroism… and hope. (A ten-minute read, 1400 words). (Above: the waters of Scapa Flow have not always been so calm…) Shortly after midnight on the 14th October, 1939, a German U-boat, U-47, passed unseen into the vast and hitherto safe waters of Orkney’s Scapa Flow, the base of the … Read More Bridges of Stone and Heart

Stromness by night

A series of short ‘betweens’ from the Silent Eye’s ‘Pictish Trail’ and ‘Ancient Orkney’ workshops. We’re having an after dinner walk along the night streets of Stromness, Orkney’s main ferry port and link with Scotland. My wife and I have stayed here once before. The ‘Ancient Orkney’ part of this Silent Eye trip has been so packed with exploring that this may be our … Read More Stromness by night

The Old Men of Hoy

I remember the ferry poster. May 2018 and we were on our way to Orkney for the first time. Four of us had travelled by ScotRail up from Glasgow to Thurso, a few miles west of John O’ Groats, the most northerly point on the British mainland. From Thurso, we were booked onto the evening ferry to Orkney, landing in Stromness around ninety minutes … Read More The Old Men of Hoy

Two journeys, one destination (4) : two sides of the hill

On the second day of the Silent Eye’s ‘Pictish Trail’ weekend, we are beginning in what is, for me, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Portmahomack is a small fishing village on the north side of the Tarbat Peninsula. It’s an hour’s drive north from Inverness. I’m at the end of the pier, gazing out across the deep blue sea towards … Read More Two journeys, one destination (4) : two sides of the hill

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