When the clouds came down to play

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If Saturday had started fine, Sunday was not planning on being as kind. By the end of Saturday evening our company was much reduced; the flooding in Cumbria had called half the party to return to their various homes, some quite severely threatened with being cut off if they delayed. Stuart and I checked out of the hotel and wandered down to Rivington to wait for news from the rest of our party whose road north had already been flooded on the way to the workshop.

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The rain battered the roof of the car and the call, when it came, was no surprise. Sunday was rained off, our companions sensibly heading southwards. Which left just the two of us in a very soggy landscape with little desire to get out of the car and get drenched.

We would head back and salvage what we could of the day, and probably work on the rituals for the April weekend which, I might add, will be held indoors. Mostly.

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We didn’t fancy the spray and stress of the motorways and we had plenty of time, so after a brief drive around some of the reservoirs and sites at Rivington, my companion got out the map to navigate us cross-country back over the Pennines and into Yorkshire.

I trust my navigator; we have driven thousands of miles together now and he had something in mind… but we were in what was once the industrial heartland of Lancashire and the towns are not the chocolate box variety… and we are neither of us overly fond of built-up areas at the best of times. Still, we would have to cross the hills and that would do nicely. I had no idea which way we were taking until he said a couple of magic words… Holmfirth and Saddleworth. That meant we were going over the moors.

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There came a point when I could resist no longer and pulled over. With surgical precision and anticipation the camera was placed in my hand… he knows me so well and the clouds were hiding the peaks of the hills. From that point onwards my conversation diminished into squeaks and oohs of delight as we approached the Dove Stone Reservoir, sheltered in the valley beneath Dovestones Edge.

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There was no help for it, and there was a parking place… I pulled over and got out. The hills towering around us were shrouded in a veil of flying cloud, hiding and revealing new facets of the landscape with every passing second. Pheasants ran and fluttered in the mist. Below us, the great mirror of water reflected the sepia hills and iron sky of the north that I love so very much. Beneath my feet… for I had barely waited… an outcrop of stone overlooking the valley.

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It is a strange mixture of wild and tamed land. The hills are old and hoary, pocked with the scars and wrinkles of time, weeping waterfalls fed by the sky and crowned with wind-carved stones. Yet across this ancient beauty man has left his mark. The waters of the reservoir are channelled and caught, the hills themselves wear the concrete veins that bear the lifeblood of earth to man’s service and the argent surface of the lake is borne in the chalice of the goddess.

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We had begun the day in an artificial landscape where the hillside had been shaped to the will of man. Undoubtedly beautiful, yet lacking the majesty of this place. At Rivington the will had been that of one man who shaped nature to his heart… a romantic story that married young love and success. Here, however, although the concrete is the same and just as artificial, and there is still the will to write upon the face of nature, Nature is bigger than desire and you can feel her depth in the rock and earth beneath your feet.

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The beautiful terraced gardens worked nature to answer desire, this landscape harnessed nature to fill a need. Both provide a haven for wildlife and a place of delight to the eye. The gardens required too costly a maintenance and now begin to be reclaimed by the earth… the reservoir at Dovestones must be far more costly, yet it serves to maintain the life of many.

It seemed in many ways to be a perfect illustration of some of the things we had talked about on the previous day as we shared the landscape of the Prisoner in the Tower with our companions. The will fuelled by personal desire may create a temporary loveliness, but can only lead to eventual decay and an imprisonment in bars of its own making. The will at the service of a greater good creates an environment bigger than itself and filled with the possibility of a wild beauty that shows something of its true origin and essence.

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When we, as individuals, use the will to serve ego, we may create something that, to the outside world, looks fabulous and incites envy. To maintain what we have created we must pour more and more of ourselves into what we do until eventually we will begin to see areas that feel empty. When all that we are is placed in service to something greater than ourselves, it seems that we become more than ourselves… and less… and in that stripping away of self we find we have lost nothing except the bars that could have held us.

To stand with such a landscape is to feel so small and insignificant that self melts away into joy. To stand within such a moment is to know yourself to be not just an observer, but part of a greater landscape of overwhelming and untameable beauty.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. 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 Ancient sites, earth, England, essence, Photography, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to When the clouds came down to play

  1. Very beautiful trip as you had Sue 😀


  2. dgkaye says:

    The storm sounded ominous, but nonetheless, the photos are exquisite. Thanks you for the ride. 🙂


  3. It does look very beautiful there sue despite the rain, and I love the pic of gthe pheasants 😉


  4. Pingback: When the clouds came down to play | oshriradhekrishnabole

  5. The way you described the journey and the will of fighting againts the odd and the rain, bringing me forth into the place itself as if I am there with you. Always love your writings, Sue – simply striking and outstanding.

    Love those photos – although the place are shaped by man himself. But then, who can really mantain such a gigantic space as that? Nature has her own way when it comes to reign what was hers all along – this earth was never ours to own, but it owned us. We are just living in it.

    Beautiful, Sue! Simply lovely, really! Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey!



  6. That Girl. says:

    In love with the nature on your beautiful pictures! just come there and rest, nothing else. Thumbs up, Sue 🙂


  7. blondeusk says:

    Lovely post and beautiful photos


  8. Beautifully written, with atmospheric pictures


  9. Shame about the weather Sue (when will it ever stop raining). Sounds a good trip just the same.. 🙂


  10. davidprosser says:

    Such fantastic pictures Sue.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


  11. fransiweinstein says:

    Breathtaking, almost doesn’t look real.


  12. Mary Smith says:

    Great photos and a thought-provoking post.


  13. tiramit says:

    Thank you for the effort taken to make this journey and to create the post with lovely ‘wet’ photos. It reminds me so much of being there…


  14. olganm says:

    I love it. I know the area but you’ve made me realise I don’t think I’ve been out taken photographs since I got my digital camera (or even the phone)…. I hope everybody made it back home safely. And I hope it’ll stop raining before we’re all under water.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Everyone managed to get home safely, thank goodness but yes… a few dry days would be nice!

      It is a beautiful area. Not everyone loves the bleak moors in winter, but I do 🙂


  15. Gorgeous! Happy holidays Sue, to you and yours! ♡


  16. Looks like just the sort of place and walk I would enjoy so it was a great read for me matched with lovely photographs


  17. Widdershins says:

    I often feel like that when I visit places where the works of humans are being reclaimed by Herself. I have a sense of, ‘this is as it should be’. 🙂


  18. Oh, the moors such majesty and beauty, so rugged and wild how could anyone not appreciate the love of your photography? The words barely do justice to the pictures you share. Thank you Sue, yes Mother Nature is beautiful and unpredictable, the more we destroy the harder she hits back.


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