Friday, 9 May 2008

South Park

Another day jam packed with information, Paul has summarised the day very well in his entry below and I don't want to duplicate too much. I just wanted to add some of the things that stuck with me.

We opted to look around an area on the outskirts of the South West of the park and drove along a single track road which formed the boundary between all round accessible land and RAF property belonging to Spadeadam Camp. The first place we stopped was Cramell Linn ,popular with locals as a swimming hole, this waterfall (formed by the river Irthing) marks the boundary of the park and the Northumberland Cumbria border in this area. There were cute looking stone buildings on the bank side of the river which Derek explained were pumping stations that once formed part of a cooling system for Blue Streak (the aborted Anglo French space exploration effort). Once again a landscape with a military presence. I tried to get a picture of an abandoned plane but my camera wasn't really up to it as you can see! The landscape was bleak, flat and the warm weather gave it a scorched / parched feeling. White Prarrie was the name Derek used, a contrast to the Blacklands of the North Park. We passed dummy tanks and a small target practice village, for me it took a small leap of imagination to picture myself in one of the current theatres of war, perhaps the heat was getting to me.

As we drove through the regimented lines of spruce and Derek explained how the forest (Wark and Keilder) were started as part of the war effort (WWI) to try to make Britain self sufficent in timber. Farmland was purchased easily from farmers who were making marginal livings and the Duke of Northumberland gave over one of his hunting parks for planting. Not all farmers gave up their land, Lampert Farm remains an oassis of open space amongst the quite claustrophobic woodland. It was near here that we made our forray into the mire and discovered the amazing islands of moss and lichen that Paul shows in his photos below.

Driving back Derek explained about the Nine Nicks that formed the impressive ridge of undulating Whin Sill that the Hadrian's wall runs along. There are no longer nine of them, several were quarried out and the hard stone used as sets (cobbles) in expanding industrial cities like Manchester. I was struck by a kind of circularity in the use of materials in the landscape. Here the shape of the land had been dramatically changed in order to service an urban industrial landscape thinking back to Simonside (see previous blog entry) it seemed to me that this movement had come full circle. To help reduce errosion the Park have paved the footpath using the flagstones from the floor of an old mill works in Derby: the urban industrial landscape declines and is recycled to preserve the landscape.

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