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Posts Tagged ‘The Lake District’

A View from Above

Back before I started work on the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, back when I thought there was only going to be one novel, I struggled hard to move forward and couldn’t figure why it wasn’t working. And then I got a glimpse, just a little glimpse, but enough, of the whole picture, and I understood that the story I was trying to tell was a trilogy and not a one-off. The story I needed to write, was way too big for one novel.

I was reminded again how important that view of the overall picture can be when my good friend, Melanie Frazier, sent me a link to a breath-taking photo of the Lake District taken from the International Space Station, and I was deeply moved by such a view of a place I love, of a place that inspired and figured strongly, into each of the three Lakeland Heatwave novels, almost as if it were another character in its own right.

The lake District image taken from the International space Station behbysjcaaayk3t-large

 

The photo was tweeted by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield from on board the International Space Station. Commander Hadfield is a flight engineer currently on Expedition 34 on the station and has gained popularity on Twitter by sharing stunning photos of space and his views of Earth as the International Space Station orbits roughly 200 miles above the planet, moving at over 17,000 miles per hour.

How could such a ‘snapshot’ of one of my very favourite places not get me thinking about writers and the way we view our stories. I’ve always been an advocate of what I like to call snapshot writing. Snapshot writing is giving the reader snippets of detail, of experience, of a fleshed-out moment so full, so rich that the reader can feel it, taste it, revel in it. A snapshot can say so much about an event, often way more than words can. So for me one of the most powerful tools in my writing tool box is to create a snapshot with words, to write a moment so vividly that readers are instantly transported to the place and time. Commander Hadfield’s amazing snapshot from space has done just that for me.

Imagine my delight when I realised that I could not only see the whole of the Lakeland Heatwave trilogy in that snapshot, but I could see all the snapshots, all the intricately woven stories of my own adventures on the fells, of my own explorations and uncoverings of Lakeland one footstep at a time.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1 How could I not wonder what Alfred Wainwright would have thought if he could see his beloved Lakeland in such a view from above? His incredibly detailed drawings and descriptions of the Lakeland Fells are among the most accurate, most lovely, most poetic ever recorded. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in the Twa Dogs Inn in Keswick, the night before climbing a fell I’d never walked before, drinking Cumberland Ale while reading through Wainwright’s notes and studying the maps and drawings from his Pictorial Guides of the Lakeland Fells. The beauty in the minute detail of his work is now reflected in a stunning overview from space. How could anyone not be moved by that?

More than just the love of Lakeland, which I could go on and on about, and frequently do, is the sense of place such a snapshot from space gives. (I’ve added links with lots of pictures to show you the up-close-and personal of what you can see from a distance from the ISS photo. Enjoy!) I can look at that shot and see Ullswater and Derwent Water. I can see snow-capped Helvellyn and Skafell Pike, the highest peak in England. I can see the Borrowdale Valley, the Newlands Horseshoe, Honister Pass – all the places my characters in the Lakeland trilogy frequent – all the places I’ve frequented, and I couldn’t not share it. So if you look closely at the picture, the highest snow-covered point in the lower right — that’s Helvellyn. Its iconic Striding Edge put me to the test in one of the most adrenaline-laced, exquisite walks I’ve ever done in the Lake District.

And if you look to the left and slightly lower, at the last snow-covered range in the picture, that high point is Scafell Pike, the highest point in England and another walk I’m proud to say I’ve had the pleasure of doing.

But now, if you look in between those two ranges and slightly north, settled, almost centred, in between the two is a dark spot, roughly oval in shape with jagged edges. That’s Derwent Water with Keswick on the northeast shore invisible to the naked eye from so far above. To the south of the lake, where the fells begin again, is the Borrowdale Valley. And slightly to the left, you can just make out the irregular U-shape of the Newland’s Horseshoe, all of the above frequented by my characters in the Lakeland trilogy, frequented by me. The Newland’s Horseshoe is the place where both Marie Warren and I first ‘got lost’ in the mist. The Borrowdale Valley and the Newlands Horseshoe are the places that inspired the trilogy, the places where heather clings to steep cliffs, where deserted slate quarries make for slippery descents, where the views are breath-taking and where it can all disappear into the mist in a heartbeat.

I’m so glad it was clear the day Commander Hadfield took this picture. I can’t stop looking at it. I love the fact that I’m somehow connected to that place and all the stories it evokes – not just mine, but everyone else’s – all those poets and walkers and writers and photographers and artists – past, present and yet to come — who have found Lakeland as powerful and as moving as I have. I’m connected to all of them, and by that connection, to all of those who read the writings and look at the works of art inspired by that tiny, rugged piece of land that’s just as exquisite when seen from 200 miles above as it is when explored slowly, painstakingly, one footstep at a time.

Surely there is no other place in this whole world quite like Lakeland … no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other that calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when they are away from it.

Alfred Wainwright

 

Empty Nest Time Three

Elemental Fire cover image finalThis week I had my last breakfast of Fiori’s Swedish pancakes with Tara and Anderson and the Elemental coven, and then I sent the finished manuscript of Elemental Fire off to Xcite for the final edit. I’ll have one last read-through when the proofs come back to me and, after that, I’ll be saying good-bye to the Elemental Coven and turning them over to the readers. And my first trilogy will be complete!

What I hadn’t expected was such a huge dose of empty nest syndrome so quickly. I mean I get that feeling after every novel, novella, or story I finish, but this was major. This was three books worth of ENS. This was a story of a long battle for the life and love and the well-being of the Elemental Coven; a battle against a very nasty, yet very sexy demon. Because the story is set in the Lake District, which is one of my favourite places on the planet, that meant that every second I spent on the trilogy was like escaping to Cumbria for a quick break. I’ll miss that a lot!

Elemental Cottage and Lacewing Farm have become real to me. I love curling up in front of the fireplace on the cushions in Tim Meriwether’s farmhouse with a nice bottle of claret. I love sitting in the lovely library at Elemental Cottage eating Fiori’s homemade gingerbread and having a cuppa while discussing ways to take out Deacon. I love time spent with Tara in the greenhouse. I love sexy magic circles cast in the Room of Reflection or in the Dream Cave. I love sitting down with the whole coven for a fry-up or a breakfast of Fiori’s Swedish pancakes after a hot night of sex magic. I love the camaraderie and the closeness that developed in the coven, and I love the fun-loving spirit in spite of the adversity with which they were dealing.

There are other stories to be told, the stories of other members of the Elemental Coven, the stories of other magical experiences in the Lake District, and I’ll go back there in a heartbeat if the Muse is willing. And I’ll be honest, I go back and visit all my novels periodically, at least in my head. The characters have been too much a part of my life not to, and never more so than the Elemental Coven because I’ve walked the land, been caught out in the mist, explored the quarries, drank in the fresh fell air.

Of course it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning, really. As always, the best part will be sharing Elemental Fire and the antics of the Elemental Coven with you. I look forward to that even more than Fiori’s Swedish pancakes. So here’s a little peek of what’s to come.

Elemental Fire Blurb:

Obsessed with revenge, KENNET LUCIAN makes a deal with a demon, a deal he comes to regret when he meets TARA STONE, head of the Elemental Coven, and a powerful witch with a desire for revenge at least as great as his. Even though the attraction between the two is magnetic and the lust combustive, Kennet must betray her to accomplish his goal, which is ultimately her goal as well; to put a final end to the demon, Deacon’s, reign of terror. But can Tara trust the man who has wormed his way into her heart and the heart of the Elemental Coven? Can she trust LUCIA, the demon with whom Kennet is allied, a demon with her own agenda. The path to Deacon’s destruction is far from clear, and the price that must be paid to be free of him forever may be too high, even for Tara Stone.

Excerpt:

From far away someone shook Tara’s arm, someone called to her in distressed tones, trying to bring her back to the Waking World. But she Riding the Ether cover image Finaldidn’t want to go back. It was safe and warm and happy here. There was nothing but sadness in the Waking World. She just wanted to sleep here in the cave and wait for whoever the beautiful woman would bring to her.

But the shaking and jostling continued. She slapped the hand away but it kept coming back to shake her. She was just ready to tell whoever it was to bugger off, when she opened her eyes and looked up to see the outline of a man leaning over her. Even in the darkness, the energy emanating from him was magnetic. Everything inside her tightened with anticipation, and Goddess, she wanted him. Surely she was still dreaming.

‘Are you alright?’ His voice vibrated through her chest and his touch felt electric, full of magic. ‘I thought you were dead, then I heard you moaning. I guess you were dreaming. I was worried and then …’

They both realized at the same time that her shirt was open and so were her trousers, and one hand still rested on her mons. She could feel the man’s gaze taking in the situation, and he twigged. ‘Oh shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. I thought you were — ’

‘I was! Dreaming, I mean.’ She quickly jerked her hand out of her trousers and tugged her open blouse across her bare breasts. ‘I was dreaming, and she said she’d send someone and …’ She blinked hard and looked around at the night sky. She couldn’t have been asleep long, but everything felt unreal, different. Was she still dreaming? Dreams could be so powerful at times, so confusing. She reached up to touch his face and felt a surge of magic — some new, some old. Some very old. Had she enfleshed a ghost because of her horny dream? When she walked at night, ghosts did sometimes follow her onto the fells in hopes that she would enflesh them and allow them to experience for a little while the pleasures afforded the living. And any other time she would happily oblige. But when she walked at night, she always sent them away. This was her place, her alone time. No one was welcome to disturb her here, and most ghosts knew that. Had she been that out of it? Was she that desperate for a fuck that her unconscious had broken her own rules?’

BTR FINAL IMAGEThe man sat back on his haunches and looked down at her. In the darkness she could only make out his silhouette dominated by broad shoulders, but it was enough to make her  own arousal spike. Certainly if she had enfleshed him, she couldn’t leave him in the state he was now, no doubt, in because of her.

He gave a little gasp of surprise when she off-balanced him, pulled him down to her and kissed him. ‘You shouldn’t have come here,’ she managed before she drew him into another kiss.

‘I might say the same about you,’ he replied.

Cheeky ghost, she thought, but she kissed him again. This time he returned the favour. And the power surge she felt went clear from her mouth down to the base of her spine and back again. His eyes fluttered, he gasped against her mouth, clearly feeling what she felt, and there was no disguising the press of his heavy erection against the fly of his walking trousers.

‘What the hell was that?’ She gasped, not entirely sure she wasn’t going to come just from their last kiss.

He pulled back from her with a start, one hand against his lips and the other resting low on his belly. ‘If you do that again, I can’t guarantee what will… If you do that again.’

For a tightly stretched second, they froze in each other’s gaze. Then she forced words up through her throat, struggling to breathe through her arousal. ‘I can’t … I need …’

‘Me too,’ He whispered. She couldn’t see the colour of his eyes in the darkness, but his gaze was baking hot against her.

Focus. Damn it, she needed to be able to focus, to think. She forced a deep breath and then they were both speaking at the same time.

‘I’m sorry … I didn’t … I wouldn’t …’

‘I don’t know what just happened,’ he gasped.

‘Me neither,’ she managed.

Then they were on each other. He yanked the clasp from her hair and clawed it free from the ponytail. She curled her fingers in the front of his shirt and pulled him on top of her, down between her open legs, lifting her hips, wrapping her ankles around his waist and thrusting up to meet him. The sounds coming from his throat were deep-chested, wild, and she wasn’t sure where his grunts and growls left off and hers began as he thrust and ground against her, shoving her arse into the soft moss with his efforts.

‘I need to get to you,’ he gasped pulling away from her, tugging and fumbling at her trousers until they were down over her hips.

She toed one of her boots off and kicked it aside, and he lifted her leg free of her trousers while she shoved open his fly and slid her hand into his boxers until she could wrap her fingers around his heavy cock.

Dismantle tramway from Fleetwith PikeHe gasped and pushed her hand away. ‘Don’t do that. I’ll come in your hand and I don’t want to come there. He trapped both her wrists above her head with a large hand while he nuzzled his way into her shirt and battled with his trousers until his butt was bare.

Then he released her hands and kissed his way down her belly, shoving her legs further apart as he went, lowering his face, biting the inside of her left thigh just below the swell of her pussy. She yelped and drenched herself. He fingered her open and ran his tongue up from her perineum all the way to her clit and bit again. And she came, bellowing her orgasm into the cool night air. ‘I want you in me, I want you in me,’ she gasped, even before she could breathe again, even before the waves inside her had dissipated.

He positioned himself and pushed into her deep and hard and they both growled like angry wolves. She grabbed his arse cheeks in an effort to pull him still deeper into her. He dug into the moss with his feet, shoved up onto his knees and lifted her until her shoulders rested in the moss and her hips were in the air, knees pressing upward against her breasts. Then he rolled with her and pulled her on top of him. With one trembling hand he shoved her blouse off her shoulders and her breasts bounced freely into his cupping fingers. With the other hand he expertly found her clit, and resting the flat of his palm on her mound, he stroked and rubbed with the pad of his thumb.

One wave of orgasm collapsed in on the next, like the waves breaking against the cliffs at St Bee’s Head. Then both of his hands settled to her hips and he thrust up nearly bucking her off in his efforts to penetrate still deeper. His grip on her hips was bruising, and she slammed into him harder and harder with each thrust, emotions swirling around, emotions that she didn’t want to feel, emotions that she did want to feel, emotions that she had wanted to feel from the time she was a little girl. And somewhere in the midst of their thrusting and pushing, she realized that not all of the emotions were hers. But she couldn’t think, she couldn’t concentrate on anything but the in and out, push and shove, like a mantra, like a spell being woven in rhythm, in repetition, in sync.

And then they both came, screaming and raging and rolling in the moss until he was once again on top of her, his weight feeling like the weight of the world, and yet at the same time feeling like a blanket protecting her from the depths of her own pain. How could this be? How could she ever experience anything like this with some strange horny ghost on the fells?

She found herself with a million questions, and yet by the time she caught her breath, she was fast asleep. To her total surprise, he had crossed the dream threshold and they were chasing the dream together.

 

 

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Body Temperature and Rising, the Long Way Around

Body Temperature and Rising, volume one of my Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, is now available in all ebook formats with most major distributors. It will be available in print in February. After a very strange, circuitous journey to completion, I’m very excited to be able to share my first ever paranormal erotic romance with the world.

Body Temperature and Rising didn’t start out to be a trilogy. In fact, it started out, three Novembers ago, as my first effort to write a novel in a month for National Novel Writing Month. (NaNoWriMo). During November, National Novel Writing Month, people everywhere of all ages from all walks of life attempt to write a novel in one month. For me, not only was it my first attempt to write a novel in a month, but it was my first ever attempt to write an erotic novel.

Considering the way it all began, Body Temperature and Rising could hardly have been anything BUT paranormal. My good friend Helen Callaghan and I decided to get the first day of our NaNoWriMo experience off to a good start by driving to Avebury to write at the pub there.

Avebury is a village set in the middle of the biggest Neolithic stone circle in Europe, a stone circle 500 years older than the Pyramids.

The Red Lion Inn. Taken on a much nicer, much less haunted day.

Because the stones are much easier than Stonehenge to access, and there is no charge, Avebury has become a gathering place for modern Pagans and other New Age folks. And our timing was perfect, as it was the day after the old Celtic holiday of Samhain and even in spite of the torrential downpour that we arrived in, we found ourselves surrounded by druids, witches, wiccans and all manner of Pagans celebrating what is essentially Celtic New Year. The people watching was fabulous, even with the drowned-rat effect.

Never mind that, Helen and I were there to write, so after a scuppered attempt at an inspiring walk in the wind and rain, we settled in at the Red Lion Inn, right in the centre of the stone circle. This 16th Century pub proudly boasts the reputation of being ‘the most haunted pub in England.’

It didn’t take us long to get pulled into the writing, so after lunch we wrote our way through numerous coffees and pots of tea, watching the super-saturated Pagans come and go in the pouring rains. There was a fire in the fireplace, and we were both in the zone.

By late afternoon, sharing leftover Halloween candy across the table while the Muse whispered in our ears the pub was nearly. Suddenly there was an enormous banging sound, like doors slamming. It seemed to be coming from the hall that led to the restroom behind us. The space that had felt toasty warm all at once felt chilled, and we were both shivering. Seconds later, one of the wait staff came running back to the restrooms looking very panicked and very pale. From behind the bar to the kitchen we heard murmurs and nervous laughter. We overheard mentions of the ghost, followed by more murmurs and mentions of supernatural phenomena when the volunteer returned unscathed to join the rest of the staff cowering behind the bar. And then the room was warm again. Helen and I ate more sweets, ordered another pot of tea and discussed our near-brush with the supernatural. Then we kept writing.

One of the Avebury stones on a nice day.

It was only as dark settled and the rain hadn’t let up even a little bit that we remembered two things. We weren’t parked in the pub car park, but in the National Trust car park on the other side of the village, a car park that closed at dark.

We quickly gathered our belongings and made a run for it, trying to hold umbrellas to protect us from horizontal rain, and struggling to see our way on the tiny, unlit path back to the car park, illuminated only by the pale green light of Helen’s mobile phone. With boots full of water and a banged knee from the metal fence post I ran into, we finally arrived at the Car Park to find it deserted except for Helen’s car, and thankfully for the National Trust Land Rover parked by the gate with a lovely NT employee waiting patiently to let us out.

Oh, and that intsy-weentsy little second thing we’d forgotten about… We’d been so busy talking on the way over to Avebury that we’d forgotten to get petrol for the car, and we were running on fumes. Avebury has a pub, several tourist shops and a post office. No garage. The next town of any size up the deserted highway was Marlborough. Everyone with any common sense was long since inside out of the horrid weather. It felt like we were the only people on the planet. We were only fifteen miles from Marlborough, but we weren’t sure we were even going to get to when we realized the Kennet River, which usually runs under the road was now running OVER the road. Thinking only of the fumes quickly dissipating in the petrol tank, we ploughed through the raging waters of the Kennet and continued on our way, a thought which still gives me a chill when I think what might have happened crossing a flooded river as we did. But only a few miles up the road, looking like the gates to paradise was a small Murco station. And it was open! We were saved! Thus began Lakeland Heatwave: Body Temperature and Rising, which at that time was called ‘Love Spell.’

During the month that I wrote BTR, a time when I already had a very full writing plate on top of the novel-in-a-month plan, the paranormal experience continued as I was magically transformed into The Bitch

Research is hard work

from Hell, a creature so unpredictable, so terrifying, so vile that only my husband, Raymond the Brave, could successfully handle being in her presence for long periods of time. The man has permanent psychological scars from that infamous November, I have no doubt.

In the meantime, I got trapped in the Eurostar Tunnel and The Initiation of Ms Holly was born, followed by The Pet Shop while BTR languished tucked away in my computer as a Word file. I just wasn’t confident enough to attempt anything paranormal. Then, maybe it was the influence of the Avebury Ghost, but I decided to propose Body Temperature and Rising to Xcite, knowing that it would need a lot of reworking because I had grown a lot as a writer. Once Xcite accepted my proposal, I found myself totally unable to continue with the rewrite. Every attempt felt like a false start, every effort felt like it wasn’t right somehow.

Just when I was about to lose heart, I took a long walk and realized that if it were going work as I envisioned it, Lakeland Heatwave would have to be a trilogy. Xcite went for the proposal and from that point on, the ghosts and witches practically wrote the story for me.

Of course with the action set in the Lake District and the first chapters set in a bad storm on the fells and in a slate mine shaft, I was forced to make several research trips to the Lakes. How I suffer for my art! I have no doubt I’ll need to do much such suffering as the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy unfolds.

Body Temperature and Rising will be available in print in February 2012, and as is the happy tradition, will be celebrated with wild partying and raunchy reading at Sh! Hoxton.

Blurb:

American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allowsghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.

DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.

Dale Head. The sight Marie would have seen without the mist.

Excerpt:

‘First you treat me like I don’t exist, then you go all big brother on me like I’m too delicate and soft-brained to take care of myself. Well I have news for you, Tim Meriwether, I was taking care of myself for a long time before you decided I needed looking after.’ She shoved again, and this time he grabbed her with such force that she felt the bones in her neck pop.

With her forward momentum, he stumbled over an uneven paving stone, lost his footing and went over backward into a manger full of fresh hay, pulling her on top of him.

Before she could shove and claw her way to her feet, He grabbed her around the waist and rolled, pinning her beneath the weight of his body. He gave her no time to think about it, but pulled her into a bruising kiss, forcing her lips apart, probing her hard pallet with his dexterous tongue, biting her lower lip before he came up fighting for the breath to speak. ‘I think about you a lot, Marie,’ His chest rose and fell in hungry gasps. ‘But I promise you, none of those thoughts were even remotely brotherly.’

She bucked underneath him and clawed at his shirt. ‘Then do something about it, damn it, and stop toying with me.’ Several buttons popped and flew across the stable floor. He forced her legs apart with his knee, moving it up to rub against the crotch of her jeans. She shoved his shirt open and arched up to him as he pushed her t-shirt up and manoeuvred and tugged, forcing her breasts free from her bra into his spayed hands and hungry lips.

She fumbles with the fly of his jeans, sliding an anxious hand into his boxers. He huffed a breathless grunt, and the muscles low in his stomach tense as she closed her fingers around his engorged penis and began to stroke.

He had just began the anxious efforts with her own fly when suddenly the stable door slammed shut, and the light bulb overhead exploded in a shower of fine glass plunging the two into total darkness.

Marie yelped, and Tim cursed. As they fought their way to their feet, the mare screamed, and they could hear her struggling.

Tim vaulted over the manger’s edge seconds before Marie, calling back to her. ‘Get the door. Get it open.’

Struggling to secure her jeans with one hand, Marie felt her way along the perimeter of the stable toward the door. The relief was short-lived when her fingers closed around the handle, and it wouldn’t budge.

‘It’s locked,’ she shouted above the desperate cries of the mare.

‘What do you mean, it’s locked,’ Tim shouted back. ‘It doesn’t have a lock. It’ can’t be locked.’

‘I’m telling you it won’t open,’ she yelled back, feeling an icy chill blasting her from behind. With one final tug, the door gave and she tumbled backward on her ass. The sharp knife edge of light that shot through the darkness was blinding, like a flashbulb going off, leaving a deep bruised after image dancing in front of her face, an after image of Deacon.

She cried out and crab walked backward, as he stepped toward her, unfurling his bullwhip, in what seemed like endless slow motion.

 

 

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Thoughts from the Lakes

10th May

We nearly got blown off the fell today. The winds at the top of Broom Fell were like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I was literally driven to my knees. I had to stop several times, just dig my poles in and hunker over. We didn’t continue on to Lord’s Seat as we intended. It was just too dangerous. Brian says when it’s that windy, the safest thing to do is just to lie down flat. It was an amazing, terrifying, exhilarating experience, and strangely I noticed the wind smelled like line-dried sheets before you put them on the bed, though I suppose in reality line-dried sheets smell like heavy winds on the Lakeland fells.

The wind made me think about what it actually would be like for Marie coming down off High Spy on a steep descent of loose slate in the wind mist and rain. Now I have first-hand experience to confidently say that it’s not a good place to be in bad weather.

We decended out of the wind to Spout Force, a lovely waterfall in the protection of a tight canyon. In the afternoon, we went to the Rannerdale Valley, and I’ve never seen so many bluebells up the sides of the fells and in the valley below. Apparently this valley was The Secret Valley, which writer and publican Nicholas Size wrote about. It is the valley where the native Britons and Norsemen ambushed and defeated the Normans after the Norman invasion. According to legend, for every Norman invader killed, a bluebell grows. More dark grist for the creative mill and my ghosts and witches as I write Lakeland Heatwave.

11th May

We took the long way to Ullswater, over Kirkstone pass to Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd. We had planned to walk Red Screes on top of the Kirkstone Pass, but most of the upper fells were lost in the mist as we began our day. We had a lovely walk anyway. Both fells were rocky with inviting hidey holes and nooks and crannies, just the sort of places strange things, which are not easily explained away, might happen. We finished the day walking along the shores of Ullswater in rain-washed sunshine.

We spent the evening at the Keswick Mountain Rescue Base where Chris Harling gave a presentation about his climb of Mt Everest in 2007. Wow! What an experience! It was good to spend a little time at the base and hear some of Brian’s stories of mountain rescue call-outs he’d been on, all of which helped me get a picture in my mind’s eye of what sort of experiences my farmer, Tim Meriwether, might be dealing with as a volunteer for Keswick Mountain Rescue.

I went to bed thinking about Chris Harling climbing Everest. Chris said for him the hardest challenge was psychological, keeping his mind focused so that no matter how hard it was, no matter how much he wanted to quit, he could keep the goal before him and keep pushing forward to it.

With witches and ghosts and mountain passes being the order of the day, one of my Facebook friends, Thomas Gardener III, put me onto this fabulous song called The Witch of Westmoreland. The song is set in the Kirkstone Pass and at Ullswater. More atmospheric inspiration for my witches and their ghosts. Give it a listen.

12th May

We had more iffy weather, so again we walked the lower fells. We started our day on Raven Crag. Brian told us a story of the Mountain Rescue being called out to remove a decomposing corpse from there, which only added to the deep woodsy, eeriness of the fell. Like every place we walked, there were gorgeous views from the top. There is logging going on along some parts of the trail now. The ever-present smells of sawdust and pine resin brought back childhood memories of going to the woods with my father to where he worked. We made a quick side trip to take in the earthworks that remain of a bronze age fort overlooking the Shoulthwaite Valley.

We finished the day walking High Rigg, and Low Rigg down through St. John’s In the Vail to Tewit Tarn (pronounced Tiffit) taking in a lovely view of Castle Rigg Stone Circle from below Low Rigg. I’d always looked up onto these fells from the circle, but never seen it from above before. I can see why the Neolithic residents chose that particular site for their stone circle – sat on a raised plateau completely surrounded by high fells, no cathedral ever built could offer such a breath-taking experience.

13th May

Unfinished business got finished today. We decided to do the fells we had to give up on Tuesday because of the wind. We started off the day walking Barf in the rain. I know most of you American readers are laughing by now, but don’t let the name fool you, the ascent up Barf was probably the toughest ascent we had. It was steep, rocky, and wet, and we did the majority of it in the worst rain we’d had all week. But wow, what a lovely walk! We were rewarded with exquisite views out over not only Bassenthwaite Lake, but over a large chunk of the Western Fells. By the time we got to the summit, the sun was shining timidly.

We also managed Lord’s Seat, still windy and cold, but at least we could stand up. Then with the unfinished business finished, we walked into some of the most beautiful forest I’ve ever seen, thick with sphagnum moss and heather, up over Seat How where we enjoyed the first dry, wind-free lunch we’ve had all week. We walked roads along forest so thick that the sunlight didn’t penetrate through the canopy, and underneath the trees it literally looked like night. From there we made our final ascent of the day to Whinlatter Top, accompanied, once again, by the howl of the wind, daunting, but not unbearable this time, not exactly an old friend, but no longer the great unknown either.

I always feel a bit bereft after our last walk in the Lakes when we have to head back to the Soft South. Lakeland is so magical, and walking the fells stretches me and challenges me in ways nothing else I’ve done does. There is no denying the inspiration I get from being here. I’ve come away with lots of ideas for the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, and lots impressions that can come only from moving through the landscape and feeling the many layers of history, geology, natural science, and legend swirling around me with each step I take. It’s a place so steeped in possibility that I’m not at all surprised the story that comes to me won’t be told in only one novel. Lucky me. It’s not only the place that is amazing in what it offers up to me, but the people as well. And I owe a very special debt of gratitude and appreciation to Brian and Vron Spencer for all of their help and enthusiasm as I tease out the stories of my Lakeland witches and ghosts. Thanks Brian and Vron. You’re the best!

 

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© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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