Skiddaw Summit by Kathleen Jones Find!
Many years ago - more years now than I care to recollect! - I decided that I would like to celebrate my birthday by climbing one of Cumbria's highest peaks, and, hopefully achieving the summit!
The fact that my birthday is 4 days before Christmas, and falls on the day with the shortest amount of daylight, meant that this was not perhaps the optimum time of year for seeing the views in all their splendour on the way up, but this did not deter me and my then boyfriend (an experienced walker and outdoor pursuits leader) from setting off to climb Skiddaw.
We did get to the top, and back, in complete safety...and still in daylight too. However as expected, the views were somewhat limited and the summit was shrouded with mist. Despite this, I ended the day with a real sense of achievement to go with my aching legs and muddy walking boots.
I hadn't thought about this walk for years until very recently when I was reading some of Kathleen Jones' poems online. I have met Kathleen several times at advisory group meetings for the Words by the Water festival which is held every year in Keswick, and so I was delighted to find some of her poems online.
Kathleen grew up in the Lake District, and still lives here in Cumbria. She has published several biographies including the highly-acclaimed A Passionate Sisterhood which tells the story of the sisters, wives and daughters of the Lake poets. (Another gem which is heartily recommended!) She also has a book of poems published, called Unwritten Lives, as well as several short stories.
As if all that weren't talent enough for one woman, as a journalist, Kathleen has written articles and reviews for the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Express, and the TLS, as well as magazines such as SHE and Cosmo, and she is currently tutoring creative writing for the Open University. She was appointed as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow in 2007.
One of the poems I found online is called Skiddaw Summit and as soon as I read it memories of that walk came flooding back. Not least because the walk it describes also seems to have taken place in winter, and the imagery and the language used is so evocative and so beautifully descriptive. It sums up brilliantly the geography and geology of Cumbria with lines such as:
Up the shale of the last slope --
a natural slag heap, scraping
under our feet
The summit survey point;
scored like a sundial
with remembered distances,
angles of view
that tell you where you are,
-- how far it is
from where you were.
To read the full poem go to:http://www.kathleenjones.co.uk/poems/skiddaw.html
To enjoy more of Kathleen's poetry see: http://www.kathleenjones.co.uk/poems/poemlist.html
And to discover more about her: http://www.kathleenjones.co.uk/
30 August 2009 from Helen
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