The circular walk around Hallin Fell is always full of interest and stunning scenery. With the lake at your side and the beauty of the fells within touching distance it never fails to delight. Now with the creation of the Poetry stones in Hallinhag Wood, it is also possible to get some culture into your soul on the way round!
During the advent of WW2 the Lake District became a haven for many wishing to leave the danger of the towns and cities behind them. One of these ‘refugees’ was the Poet Kathleen Raine. Born in 1908 Kathleen moved to Martindale Vicarage with her children at the beginning of the War. She was a poet who believed in the sacred nature of all life and the power of imagination above all.
Kathleen wrote her finest poems whilst living in the valley and in 2016 work began on the immortalization of her words in stone. Part of the natural landscape, the stones themselves have been left in situ with the moss and undergrowth, for the most part, undisturbed. The stones can be found by following the wooden sign which is just off the path through the wood on the shores of Ullswater
Lines from the poem ‘Night in Martindale’ are inscribed on two of the stones and the most recent which was completed by local stone carver Pip Hall in April of this year, has lines from the poem ‘On Leaving Ullswater.’
Continuing with the notable people theme, we had a lovely evening in the Bobbin Mill at Howtown where local resident Jane Brimmer gave a very interesting talk on some of the writers who have spent time in Martindale over the years. (Link to bobbin mill info on website) One of the poets mentioned in her talk titled “Writers in Martindale” was Kathleen Raine who is mentioned in previous diaries as being the author of the lines of poetry inscribed on the poetry stones in HallinHag Wood. (link back to stones diary)
The dedication of the stones was marked by a celebration held by the Friends of the Ullswater Way on the 24th June in HallinHag Wood. Introduced by Chairman Miles MacInnes, local resident Jane Penman then gave an account of Kathleen’s Raine’s life, poetry and her connection with Martindale, followed by some words from the stone carver Pip Hall and poetry readings from some of the verses carved into the stones, given by Nic Tweddell and Jane Brimmer. The gathering ended with a welcome glass or two of wine, supplied by FOUW.
The stones have certainly caught the imagination of many of our visitors, becoming quite a talking point both for those walkers visiting specifically to hunt them out and those simply enjoying the circular route around Hallin Fell.
It was lovely to find out that Poet Kathleen Raine stayed at the Hotel in 1941. She loved Martindale, the people and the Lake itself and described the valley as ‘An idyllic World Apart’.
NIGHT IN MARTINDALE by Kathleen Raine
Not in the rustle of water, the air’s noise,
The roar of storm, the ominous birds, the cries –
The angel here speaks with a human voice.
Stone into man must grow, the human word
Carved by our whispers in the passing air
Is the authentic utterance of cloud,
The speech of flowing water, blowing wind,
Of silver moon and stunted juniper.
Words say, waters flow,
Rocks weather, ferns wither, winds blow, times go,
I write the sun’s Love, and the stars’ No.
ON LEAVING ULLSWATER by Kathleen Raine
The air is full of a farewell –
Deserted by the silver lake
Lies the wide world, overturned.
Cities rise where mountains fell,
The furnace where the phoenix burned.
The lake is in my dream,
The tree is in my blood,
The past is in my bones,
The flowers of the wood
I love with long past loves.
I fear with many deaths
The presence of the night,
And in my memory read
The scripture of the leaves –
Only myself how strange
To the strange present come!