no. 1: “trace” [moorland]

Written in the style of a renga on walking the tunnel routes on the moorland above Smallcleugh mine.

The Nent-side track
steepens past the smeltmill
stand by the mine

climb above the tunnelled arch
twist along the line below

the pull up the slope
my breathing is laboured and
my muscles burning

crest the rise
to the flu and chimney

on curlew’s land
a bird flies calling alarm
to an unseen mate

now swing right
stepping tussocks

the sheepfold tumbles
half-rooms of squared-off stone
sink beneath the wind

on a moorland shoulder
overlooking Long Cleugh Burn

from a northern slope
above sheltered water
no easy way down

head for shafts
on the southern ridge

cross the stream song
a scrambling sapling slope up
through mountain ash

blind shafts
mouth danger from the heather

crumbling drops
to Hetherington’s Cross-cut
three hundred feet down

from south ridge shafts
a right turn

imagine the way
First Sun Vein then two left turns
into the Ballroom

under the fell
the tunnels lie silent and still

on Knoutberry Hill
windblown birds live breed and die
plover pipes unseen

out of the Ballroom
on a downhill return

white-tipped in heather
sticks offer markers
across the valley

slip slide down the slope
cross the burn

beyond the sheepfold
the chimney rises
over the sedge

approach the flu then
swing to face the valley

hillside stands above
Nent vale’s industrial scars
green inscribed grey

last bend along the line
the tunnel and the entrance

inside the adit
water’s dark gurgle outside
stones crunch to Nent’s rush

past the smeltmill
walk down … walk off.