Monday, 13 September 2010

The View From Black Hill

The path uphill is long and steep
for these parts.
Our Shropshire Hills are gentle hills,
softly undulating.
It is only across the border into Wales
that the walker faces a stiffer climb.

I am still climbing,
the views have opened up.
The Forestry Commission has recently felled large tracts
of conifers, an ugly crop of dark, depressing trees;
the newspaper you read this morning might have been printed
on paper produced with trees from these plantations.

These patchwork fields and hedgerows are centuries old. 
We are fortunate that the Marches 
remain a relatively backward, undeveloped area;
the major agrarian companies, who have been responsible
for grubbing up so many of the ancient hedgerows
and therefore destroying a valuable eco-system
would not find rich pickings
among the sheep pastures.

No doubt they are working on it.


The land itself is ancient too.
I have now reached the top of Black Hill.
Across the upland hay meadow I can see
three windblown Scots pines planted,
who knows when, by a small tumulus.

A tumulus is a mound of stone and earth built over 
a grave; they are also known as burial mounds or barrows.
There are many pre-historic monuments to be found in the Marches,

including this monster,
unlike the tumulus, which has long been robbed
of its contents,

clearly still in use.


  1. What we do in the name of progress. Selective cutting is important. We are moving this week to a place with 6 acres, mostly forest. No damn tourists on the lake...happy Jenny!

  2. To those of us on the other side of the pond...these views hold many romantic ideas from all the history and novels we have read. We tend to make it more lovely and less economically driven.

  3. So enjoyed a virtual walk with you in the Marches, and with all those lovely photographs, too. (Also, I had meant to say before, how much I like the photograph you are using for your title backdrop.) The hedgerows are indeed precious, and may they long remain!

  4. That beautiful patchwork of fields! Here's hoping they endure, hedgerows and all.

  5. I love the hedgerows. what a wonderful way to mark the boundary lines unlike what we do here with our ugly barbed wire fences.

  6. What a beautiful series of photos.. and your header is just amazing.

  7. Not just the view you photographed but, a heartfelt commentary from yourself.

  8. A lovely morning walk, thank you. May the hedgegrows remain, and may you stay fortunate in keeping the ancient monuments rather than becoming 'filled with progress' of the times.

    I originally moved to the area that I live, to be 'outside' of the mainly populated area of Los Angeles... it has succombed to the progress and now I look to the future and a less populated area.

  9. There is nothing like a jaunt with you,
    early of a morning, camera lens clicking,
    poet's tongue and writer's pen at the
    ready, with the sights and textures of
    your lovely stroll, hike, or walk, all
    being catalogued, put into cozy woolly
    places for recall later; and yes, your
    photographs give we Continentals
    a pierce in the distance between us;
    for there may be some global miles
    separating you from your Muse followers,
    but spiritually, poetically, there is no
    distance whatsoever. You reach out daily
    and touch us all.

  10. Oh, I forgot to inquire--where was Sir Benno during
    your hike? I missed his presence somehow. Was he
    there like your shaggy shadow, or has the old fellow
    been staying on the porch for some of the jaunts?

    I have been physically compromised, disabled for
    years, and so have not been able to hike in the
    fabulous Cascades and Olympic mountain trails
    that surround me; but now that I, too, am retired,
    my spirit is lighter, and so is my step--and next
    spring and summer I will make mid-week forays
    a few hundred yards at first into the forests.
    They have been calling to me on the wind,
    and I must obey, must walk into their conifer midsts.

  11. Such beautiful views and gorgeous photos. Thanks for taking me on this walk ;-)

  12. diese wundervolle kleine Welt muss unbedingt erhalten bleiben; eine Sünde :-) wäre es, Hand an sie zu legen!
    Ein wahrer Genuss, Dich auf Deinem Spaziergang begleiten zu dürfen!
    Gute Nacht!

  13. Wie wunderschön sind die sanften Linien! Das Foto mit den drei Bäumen gefällt mir besonders gut wegen seiner Kontraste.

  14. What wonderful pastoral views, and so quiet. Thank you.

  15. The impact of that awful picture at the end of the others was quite something.

  16. Jenn Jilks - these trees are grown as a cash crop and harvested every decade or so. They will not be missed.
    I hope you will be very happy in your forest.

    Tabor - there is no doubt that this landscape is beautiful in a gentle, English way. it is full of history and has pretty ancient towns and villages but it is also very quiet. The only tourists who come are those who love the countryside. We have had films produced here too!

    Raining Acorns - the header picture is a view from the same hill which i took a few days ago.

    Vicki Lane - we would lose a lot of important habitat if they were grubbed out. The process has been stopped, the environment movement is quite strong here. However, if big agribusiness demanded
    it, movements would be pushed aside.

    ellen abbott - some of the hedgerows are hundreds of years old. it is possible to tell by counting the number of species growing in them.

    Hilary - as this said by a first class photographer I take it as a great compliment.

    Martin H - I moan a lot about living at the back of beyond but I must admit it is amazingly beautiful and I don't want it destroyed.

  17. Glenn Buttkus - Your comments are as lyrical as ever, a poem in reply to a prose piece. Thank you so much. As for Sir Benno, my faithful and ever present shadow, of course he was with me. A walk in the hills without a dog would be unthinkable. He is a coward but he is a large dog, should I meet the bogeyman - which is very unlikely - at least Benno would look a formidable foe.
    (As I am writing this reply to your comments he is lying beside my chair, snoring and twitching gently. Perhaps he has seen a rabbit.)

    I hope you will be able to move into your own circle of trees soon, and under your own steam.

  18. Carolina - you are welcome to join me any time.

    Renee - In der Tat, es waere eine Suende; aber nirgendwo ist sicher, wenn es um Profit geht.

    Stefanie - Danke schoen fuer deine lieben Worte. Diese drei schottischen Pinien sind ein besonderer Anziehungspunkt, vielleicht sogar, weil sie direkt neben dem Huenengrab stehen.

    Freda - Quiet is the word. Housman had it right when he called us "the quietest places under the sun".

    Fran - I think it is actually a farm machine on its side, not very pretty.

  19. You know, you are living in a paradise, right ?! Thank you for this wonderful journey. Please have a good Tuesday.

  20. As a fellow paradise dweller I applaud the tour you have given us. I felt quite homesick for my Irish fields actually. I tromped so many of them in my time.
    Thank you also for the reality check of the farm implement or whatever it is.
    I'm glad le chien was with you, as you say what is a walk without one?

  21. Thank you for the walk, Friko.

    We appreciated the countryside of the Marches recently when we took a detour there on our way south.

    I love the photo of the three Scots pines.

  22. You had a lovely message in the poem! The things we do, in the name of development and progress, are deplorable indeed!
    Really enjoyed the pictures, and the descriptions you've given of them...
    I am sure you enjoyed this hike very much!
    A fascinating experience for us as well...

  23. I enjoyed going for a walk with you through your words and photos; what a beautiful area to live in and the history it holds is so interesting.

  24. We are studying photo essays in second grade right now and this is a beautiful example.

  25. Robert - I'm not sure I would call it paradise, but thank you anyway.

    Wisewebwoman - Lots of places are beautiful, it's the people who spoil them. I'm quite happy to be out with a dog any day.

    Christine - You came through but didn't stop for a while? The Marches are worth a visit of their own.

    kavisionz - thank you for visiting, I am glad you enjoyed the post.

    Marilyn - thanks, everything you said is true.

    marciamayo - Use it if you like.

  26. Hi there regular readers

    I’m really sorry to have to tell you that due to circumstances beyond my control Don’t Feed The Pixies has had to be deleted and will probably be gone by the time you read this.

    I had gone to pains to keep my name off the web and had changed the names and places of those involved where speaking about someone or something – but it seems that I have not been careful enough and so to protect myself from any future problems I have had to quit the site.

    Thank you for providing light in a tunnel of dullness. I came to the blog world in hope of finding others out there who I might have something in common with, or were just other lost souls looking for new ideas and new thoughts – I have enjoyed meeting you all.

    I am not sure whether this blog will continue in any other form. Thank you for visiting

  27. Such beautiful pictures. Progress is not always so.

  28. More beautiful images to add to my Wish List of places to visit...walking with you is always a pleasure and often a learning experience too! "Tumulus" - a word I was not familiar with...

    Wishing you continued good Fall days for more journeys.

  29. Hungry Pixie - How sad, sorry to lose you. Perhaps you can come back in another form?

    Nancy - indeed, thank you Nancy.

    taylorsoutback - I'm willing but I don't think our weather is going to help.

  30. What gorgeous countryside. I am surprised at the amount of timber being cut there, but not at all surprised by the loveliness of the hedgerows.

    My husband is an academic in Forestry. A few years ago he was telling me about a researcher in the UK who ran up against resistance from landowners who absolutely did not want to return their land to a state of being forested. It seems that so much of the landscape has been in fields and pastures for so long that all memory of large wooded tracts has evaporated.At one time though, there were forests out there.

  31. you simply take my breath away.


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