The Moor: Lives Landscape Literature
In this deeply personal journey across our nation's most forbidding and most mysterious terrain, William Atkins takes the reader from south to north, in search of the heart of this elusive landscape. His account is both travelogue and natural history, and an exploration of moorland's uniquely captivating position in our literature, history and psyche. Atkins may be a solitary wanderer across these vast expanses, but his journey is full of encounters, busy with the voices of the moors, past and present: murderers and monks, smugglers and priests, gamekeepers and ramblers, miners and poets, developers and environmentalists. As he travels, he shows us that the fierce landscapes we associate with Wuthering Heights and The Hound of the Baskervilles are far from being untouched wildernesses. Daunting and defiant, the moors echo with tales of a country and the people who live in it - a mighty, age-old landscape standing steadfast against the passage of time.
Nenthead, and in the Herald was the story: ‘A one million US dollar exploratory drilling program in search of a major zinc–lead deposit in the North Pennines has just been announced.’ The men in the Turk’s Head in Alston, when I’d spoken to them last night, had been sceptical. It wasn’t lead or zinc the drillers were looking for, but ‘rare earth elements’ – scandium, neodymium, lithium – for mobile phones, electric cars, wind turbines; or, worse: the drillers had been recruited to locate deep
Dauphin of France, 1 Louise (HMP Dartmoor chaplain), 1, 2, 3, 4 Lovebond, Mr (moneylender), 1 Luddenden (C), 1, 2 Lumb Hole (C), 1 Lydford (D), 1 Lynmouth (E), 1, 2 Lynton (E), 1, 2, 3 Macadam, John, 1 Macaulay, Thomas: History of England, 1 MacGillivray, William, 1 Macmillan, George, 1 Macmillan (publisher), 1 Maiden Way, 1, 2 Manchester, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Manwood, John: Treatise of the Lawes of the Forest, 1 maps: Alston Moor, 1, 2; ‘black’ on, 1; grouse-shooting moors, 1; marking elevation,
and wanted the land. She had a hundred applicants for this place; she chose us. I think we were the only real farmers – some were ex-policemen, ex-army majors. She wanted real farmers.’ We were talking in his shaded front room, his armchair pulled close to mine – the room where Parr had once written her books, while, in the chair beside her desk, her shortsighted mother had laboured with her glass beads, beads of numerous colours, stringing them together to make bracelets, necklaces. Mrs Hicks,
ex-soldier.’ The ex-soldier, whose name was Ernest Roddy (though he is not named in these accounts), had ‘set about his formidable task in no uncertain style’. Those ‘flapping pieces of cotton’ were his work. I’m a native of Haworth, and for many years it was a joke with me that some day I would set a poultry farm at Top Withens. I came out of the army unfit for my former work, and having a fancy for poultry, I took a training-school course. I was unable to get a suitable holding, but a short
supervise their husbands’ pleasure. Mostly they would hunker down at the butt edge, eyes half-closed, fingers in ears, or coddling their dogs. ‘My view is that pickers-up who are in range are also in season!’ The men liked this. They’d listened to such briefings before, and welcomed the irreverence; it was a necessary health-and-safety provision, but also a part of the building excitement, a part of the ritual that would conclude, later, with the counting of the ‘bag’ over a cup of tea. When the