Brief encounter…

barbrook  merin stone beeley derbyshire ani 040

Turning our backs on the lush green that fringes the little stream, we started to climb in search of the unknown stone we had seen the day before. It had been odd enough. As we had rested on the Companion Stone, talking about the planned workshops and seemingly plucking ideas for a new one out of the landscape, I had zoomed in on the distant stone to take a picture. We both saw the faces straight away. “The Merlin Stone… that’s the bestΒ  yet…” Of course, when you get up close, these faces, painted by shadows and sunlight in the durves of the stones, often disappear. Sometimes, however, what you find is even stranger.

barbrook  merlin stone beeley derbyshire  (11)

We had only gone a few yards before the stone became visible on top of thehill. I was glad that, for once, I was wearing my walking boots; the woody stems of heather and new bracken form a dense mat on the ground. I had a fleeting thought that, being unable to se where we were walking or waht we were walking on, a path might be a good idea. The information board at Curbar Gap mentions snakes in the area. I didn’t really want to step on one. Not that I had ever seen an adder on the moors, of course. They are shy creatures and disappear, as a rule, at the first vibration that heralds an intruder. Still… There was a path a few feet to my right and I lifted my foot to stride over to it… and squealed…

snake adder barbrook  merlin stone beeley derbyshire  (10) Right next to me, where my foot should have fallen, there was an adder. I managed to pull the foot back and gazed at the motionless creature. To see a snake in Britain is fairly rare… and adders, being true vipers, are our only venomous snake. I had often wondered how I would feel meeting an adder on the moors… now I knew. I was spellbound! Such a beautiful creature! I called my companion, a little way ahead and while he came over I flicked the switch on the camera, cursing the grass that was in the way but reluctant to move in case I scared her away. Not that I knew she was a female at the time… that only came later when we had time to check. Males tend to be black and grey, females brown… but not always. One thing they do share is the red eye with the vertical pupil….

snake adder barbrook  merlin stone beeley derbyshire  (9)

I suppose we only had a minute or two to look before my companion spoke and the snake lifted her head to look at us, then slithered off at amazing speed into the heather. I am surprised we had as long… I can only imagine she hadn’t finished warming up for the morning and was still sluggish. It was a wonderful gift. I would have expected fear, if I had been asked; instead there was only delight.Β  What freaked me out more was that I had just been thinking about adders… not something I usually do on the moors, blithely tramping through the undergrowth in slippers as a rule. It was rather strange. Had I seen something without registering it… had my thoughts called the snake… or is the attunement to this stretch of moor so deep? Whatever was going on, we were rather more conscious of our footfall from that point onwards!

snake adder barbrook  merlin stone beeley derbyshire  (16)

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
This entry was posted in Landscape, Merlin, nature, Photography, Sacred sites and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Brief encounter…

  1. newsferret says:

    That was a lucky misstep!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Widdershins says:

    Thoughts manifest. πŸ˜€

    Like

  3. davidprosser says:

    I’m quite envious Sue. I’ve lived all over the UK and enjoyed walks in many places like the Saddleworth Moors but have never come across an adder, a smooth snake, a grass snake or even the humble slow worm. Such beautiful creatures yet so elusive. Yours was a very lucky find.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Wasn’t it just? I’ve walked more moorland than I care to mention.. and never seen one either. My son, however, regularly see’s grass snakes… he’s an angler though, which helps. xxxx

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I nearly stood on an Adder at Goathland and had to walk in a bog to avoid it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. socialbridge says:

    How interesting that you reacted differently to what you had expected. I wonder is this a once in a lifetime encounter.

    Like

  6. jenanita01 says:

    That was a surprise encounter, for both of you, I suspect!

    Like

  7. Wow! What a find. In all my years of being on the moors I have never seen a snake – and I move quite silently too! You were lucky πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      We were, very πŸ™‚ I know they are always about, but I’ve never seen one either. Stuart saw the tail end of one by another circle, disappearing into the bracken, but that’s the closest I’d been. A real privilege πŸ™‚

      Like

  8. Oh! A surprise encounter and I must say, you’re really brave… !

    Like

  9. Marcia says:

    Absolutely beautiful female adder! Lovely markings, and nice to know they are as shy as I’ve read. (Unless stepped on or handled, of course, in which case the bitten person has asked for trouble.) I love that they are dimorphic, and you can tell the males and females apart by color. We don’t have true vipers in America. Ours are pit vipers, which is a wonderful ingenious adaptation. Heat seeking pits between the nostrils and the eyes help them locate their prey, AND avoid wasting their venom by biting something larger than they can eat.

    I have long been interested in and admired reptiles. I love most animals (except for sharks and hair-legged spiders, but there’s no rationale behind that except atavistic fear), but snakes have a special place in my heart. I have several non-venomous ones that call my garden home, and I’m always happy to spot one.

    Lovely post, Sue! Thanks for sharing, and lucky you. WHEN (not IF) I get to Britain, I hope to spot one, too.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It took my over half a century to spot this one, Marcia, so unless you go to a spot where they are known to be present you would be very lucky to see one here. Grass snakes are easier to spot, and much bigger, but I’ve never seen a wild one myself, and the smooth snake, our only other indigenous snake, is even shyer.Sharks and spiders I have little problem with.. wet worms on the other hand, make me cringe…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marcia says:

        Coming from a state where snakes are not at all uncommon (though they don’t drip from every tree, as some would have you think, nor do they waste their time seeking out humans to attack), I think it would be a fun challenge. Looking for reptiles that are rare and shy, and limited in species and number could be interesting. Of course, I’ll be the one so intent upon the power of standing stones and ancient circles, I’ll probably step right on one, and end up spending my vacation sick in the hospital. Eeek. NOT the kind of reptile encounter I’d enjoy.

        I keep going back to look at your photos. You can so clearly see the diagnostic zigzag pattern down the snake’s back, and the inverted Y behind the head. Not only did you spot this beauty, but you got cool pics, too. You obviously ROCK, Sue! πŸ˜€

        Like

        • Sue Vincent says:

          We were pretty intent on getting to the standing stone too, to find out exctly what it was… We were just so lucky to see her…I could barely believe it πŸ™‚ And so glad I spotted her before my foot went down!

          Like

  10. Marcia says:

    Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Being a lover of reptiles, in general, and snakes, in particular, I just had to share this post of Sue’s. These adders are so seldom spotted, it’s amazing that she not only saw it, but got clear enough pictures to identify the snake by pattern and coloring. Excellent, Sue!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. TanGental says:

    oh lucky you; it has to be 20 years since I saw an adder on the New Forest; we used to see a lot of them back in the 70s but then we spent an unconscionable amount of time, out on the Forest.

    Like

  12. Great picture especially since I would have been out of there in a big hurry, NOT taking picture.

    Like

  13. kirizar says:

    I believe I would have mastered the art of levitation and spontaneously departed the scene if I had been in your shoes. I do not handle snakes at all well. I commend your bravery and quail at the thought of ever stomping the moors, be they ever so lovely.

    Like

  14. Now I see why all the descriptions of the moors always say they are mysterious! Beautiful and haunting. Now the snake…eeek a snake! I would have been gone! Lovely pictures, Sue. ❀

    Like

  15. Mary Smith says:

    Great pictures, Sue. You were lucky she stayed long enough for you to take them We have adders in my part of Scotland and I’ve been lucky to see a few – not all at once; one at a time over the years – and they’ve all moved away like lighning.
    Are we going to get to this mysterious stone soon?

    Like

  16. Quite a surprise! Love the photos!

    Like

  17. guevaragem says:

    I’m in love with your writing. If it were a person, I’d marry it. Honestly. And great post. I remember touching a snake when I was younger. It was pretty harmless. It was also someone’s pet. Once again, what a great story of luck!

    Like

  18. noelleg44 says:

    Magnificent snake! I have a healthy respect for them and they are incredibly fascinating creatures.

    Like

  19. Noah Weiss says:

    I’ve seen garter and bull snakes where I live, but never adders. Even though I know most snakes are more afraid of humans than the other way around, they still scare me if I know that they might be venomous… or if they’re bigger than me.

    My Mom, however, is VERY ophidiophobic.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Oh now that is a good word, and one I didn’t know. Far more specific than the general term πŸ™‚
      We knew the adder to be venomous, but also shy… as long as they are left alone and not stood upon, they will usually just slither away πŸ™‚

      Like

  20. How lucky for you that the snake decided to be about at the right time, She looks quite long, and pretty scary so I am impressed that you managed to get a photo! πŸ™‚

    Like

  21. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, the synchronicity of thought and manifestation is uncanny! It’s surely that DNA we were talking about previously. πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      That or a ‘sixth sense’ … an awareness not conscious, though I don’t necessarily mean less/more than ‘normal’. I think we all have that super-sense and being attuned to the ladscape that weekend, perhaps opened the doors a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Friday Fantastic Flash No.4 with Sally Cronin, Geoff le Pard and Sue Vincent | aliisaacstoryteller

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