Crossfield Number 2

Capped Iron Ore Mine

Nestled among the trees, just off the Coast to Coast cycleway, at Cleator Moor in West Cumbria is a stone cairn. The cairn marks the spot where an old Iron-Ore mine has been capped. But, which one?

Crossfield #2

The Crossfield Iron Ore Company was formed around 1860 by Captain James Robertson Walker of Gilgarran, John Munro Mackenzie, of Tobermory, and hugh Munro Mackenzie, of Distington. The company sank a total of 17 pits at Crossfield.

At the mines of the Crossfield Iron Ore Company, the iron ore was found in the mountain limestone, in faults or dislocations, running north and south, almost in harmony with the geomagnetic North. The distribution of the ore deposits is very irregular, and their existence is only determined by borings, which had to be made almost at random.

The iron ore of Cumbria is exclusively of that kind which is known mineralogically as red hematite; it is chemically an anhydrous peroxide of iron (ferric oxide), containing about 70 per cent, of iron. The red hematites in the county are by far the richest raised in the United Kingdom.

The ores raised at Cleator Moor were rich in metallic iron and valuable for the manufacture of steel. They were described as:

Compact red hematite; easily scratched by a file; lustre, earthy; colour, purplish grey; streak, bright red; fracture, uneven; containing cavities lined with crystals of specular iron, and containing, in some cases, quartz.

Mr A. Dick

The ore was in great demand. Following extraction, it was exported around the United Kingdom on new railways. The ore contributed to the rapid growth of a number of towns in West Cumbria.

  • The railway came to Cleator Moor in the mid 1850’s, with the creation of the Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Railway Company. With the creation of the company, the output and shipment of ore increased.

From one shaft at Cleator Moor
They mined for coal and iron ore.
This harvest below ground could show
Black and red currants on one tree.

In furnaces they burnt the coal,
The ore was smelted into steel,
And railway lines from end to end
Corseted the bulging land.

Pylons sprouted on the fells,
Stakes were driven in like nails,
And the ploughed fields of Devonshire
Were sliced with the steel of Cleator Moor.

The land waxed fat and greedy too,
It would not share the fruits it grew,
And coal and ore, as sloe and plum,
Lay black and red for jamming time.

The pylons rusted on the fells,
The gutters leaked beside the walls,
And women searched the ebb-tide tracks
For knobs of coal or broken sticks.

But now the pits are wick with men,
Digging like dogs dig for a bone:
For food and life we dig the earth –
In Cleator Moor they dig for death.

Every wagon of cold steel
Is fire to drive a turbine wheel;
Every knuckle of soft ore
A bullet in a soldier’s ear.

The miner at the rockface stands,
With his segged and bleeding hands
Heaps on his head the fiery coal,
And feels the iron in his soul.

Norman Nicholson
Crossfield Number 2
Crossfield Number 2

Sunset Bridge

Sunset Bridge

Sometimes all you need is a sunset to make you grin from ear to ear, while you marvel at the power of nature.

This sunset appeared while I was out exploring one evening with Poppy. I was drawn to the small bridge which crossed a stream – the angle and view seemed to put life into perspective, with worries washed away as the sun passed out of sight.

There is nothing is more musical than a sunset. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful example of development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little – the book of Nature.

Claude Debussy

Sunset and sunrise remind me of the beauty of being alive – each day you are given another chance to correct what you did wrong and improve on what you can do right.

Sunset Bridge
Sunset Bridge

A Sunset

I love the evenings, passionless and fair, I love the evens,
Whether old manor-fronts their ray with golden fulgence leavens,
In numerous leafage bosomed close;
Whether the mist in reefs of fire extend its reaches sheer,
Or a hundred sunbeams splinter in an azure atmosphere
On cloudy archipelagos.

Oh, gaze ye on the firmament! a hundred clouds in motion,
Up-piled in the immense sublime beneath the winds’ commotion,
Their unimagined shapes accord:
Under their waves at intervals flame a pale levin through,
As if some giant of the air amid the vapors drew
A sudden elemental sword.

The sun at bay with splendid thrusts still keeps the sullen fold;
And momently at distance sets, as a cupola of gold,
The thatched roof of a cot a-glance;
Or on the blurred horizon joins his battle with the haze;
Or pools the blooming fields about with inter-isolate blaze,
Great moveless meres of radiance.

Then mark you how there hangs athwart the firmament’s swept track,
Yonder a mighty crocodile with vast irradiant back,
A triple row of pointed teeth?
Under its burnished belly slips a ray of eventide,
The flickerings of a hundred glowing clouds in tenebrous side
With scales of golden mail ensheathe.

Then mounts a palace, then the air vibrates–the vision flees.
Confounded to its base, the fearful cloudy edifice
Ruins immense in mounded wrack;
Afar the fragments strew the sky, and each envermeiled cone
Hangeth, peak downward, overhead, like mountains overthrown
When the earthquake heaves its hugy back.

These vapors, with their leaden, golden, iron, bronzèd glows,
Where the hurricane, the waterspout, thunder, and hell repose,
Muttering hoarse dreams of destined harms,–
‘Tis God who hangs their multitude amid the skiey deep,
As a warrior that suspendeth from the roof-tree of his keep
His dreadful and resounding arms!

All vanishes! The Sun, from topmost heaven precipitated,
Like a globe of iron which is tossed back fiery red
Into the furnace stirred to fume,
Shocking the cloudy surges, plashed from its impetuous ire,
Even to the zenith spattereth in a flecking scud of fire
The vaporous and inflamèd spaume.

O contemplate the heavens! Whenas the vein-drawn day dies pale,
In every season, every place, gaze through their every veil?
With love that has not speech for need!
Beneath their solemn beauty is a mystery infinite:
If winter hue them like a pall, or if the summer night
Fantasy them starre brede.

Victor Hugo

Wirey Tree

Misty Walk

Yesterday morning was quite misty following a frosty night. As I was out walking with Poppy, I observed the mist slowly retreating, and enveloping Dent Fell. It was quite a pleasure to see.

After around an hour of walking, I spotted a lone tree on Jacktrees Road, at Cleator Moor. It’s not a very special tree; but a combination of its wiriness, and the mist made it appear appealing and intriguing. It was almost magical with its presence. Well, to me anyways 😀

Wirey Tree
The Shepherds Tree

The Shepherds Tree

Huge elm, with rifted trunk all notched and scarred,
Like to a warrior’s destiny! I love
To stretch me often on thy shadowed sward,
And hear the laugh of summer leaves above;
Or on thy buttressed roots to sit, and lean
In careless attitude, and there reflect
On times and deeds and darings that have been –
Old castaways, now swallowed in neglect, –
While thou art towering in thy strength of heart,
Stirring the soul to vain imaginings
In which life’s sordid being hath no part.
The wind of that eternal ditty sings,
Humming of future things, that burn the mind
To leave some fragment of itself behind.

John Clare
  • Image captured on my mobile phone

Tawny Eagle

This delightful, feathery beauty, is a Tawny Eagle that I captured at the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick in Cumbria. The Tawny Eagle is a large bird of prey.

The bird breeds in most of Africa both north and south of the Sahara Desert and across tropical southwestern Asia to India. It is a resident breeder which lays one to three eggs in a stick nest in a tree or crag or on the ground. Throughout its range, it favours open dry habitats such as desert, semidesert, steppes, or savannah plains.

Tawny Eagle

This is a large eagle, although it is one of the smaller species in the genus Aquila. It is 60–75 cm (24–30 in) in length and has a wingspan of 159–190 cm (63–75 in). Weight can range from 1.6 to 3 kg (3.5 to 6.6 lb). It has tawny upperparts and blackish flight feathers and tail. The lower back is very pale. This species is smaller and paler than the steppe eagle, and it does not share that species’ pale throat.

The tawny eagle’s diet is largely fresh carrion of all kinds, but it kills small mammals up to the size of a rabbit, reptiles, and birds up to the size of guineafowl. It also steals food from other raptors. The call of the tawny eagle is a crow-like barking, but it is rather a silent bird except in display.

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Lord Alfred Tennyson

A Phantom Of Delight

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

I saw her upon a nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature’s daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warm, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright,
With something of angelic light.

William Wordsworth

Sing Me Something Well

Yesterday afternoon, I went for a short walk along the local bridleway hoping to capture a bird with my camera, and the gods obliged with a little stunner – the Common Blackbird.

The male, which is found throughout most of Europe, is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill and has a rich, melodious song; the adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage. This species breeds in woods and gardens, building a neat, mud-lined, cup-shaped nest. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, berries, and fruits.

Blackbird

Both sexes are territorial on the breeding grounds, with distinctive threat displays, but are more gregarious during migration and in wintering areas. Pairs stay in their territory throughout the year where the climate is sufficiently temperate. This common and conspicuous species has given rise to a number of literary and cultural references, frequently related to its song.

The blackbird surely ranks as one of our most familiar birds and also one of our most vocal, with a beautiful song that can heard be throughout most of the year in our woodlands, parks and gardens. Each song is often two to three seconds long with a similar interval before the next burst, and is rich and mellow with a languid delivery and fluted quality.

The Blackbird

O blackbird! sing me something well:
While all the neighbours shoot thee round,
I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground,
Where thou may’st warble, eat and dwell.

The espaliers and the standards all
Are thine; the range of lawn and park:
The unnetted black-hearts ripen dark,
All thine, against the garden wall.

Yet, tho’ I spared thee all the spring,
Thy sole delight is, sitting still,
With that gold dagger of thy bill
To fret the summer jenneting.

A golden bill! the silver tongue,
Cold February loved, is dry:
Plenty corrupts the melody
That made thee famous once, when young:

And in the sultry garden-squares,
Now thy flute-notes are changed to coarse,
I hear thee not at all, or hoarse
As when a hawker hawks his wares.

Take warning! he that will not sing
While yon sun prospers in the blue,
Shall sing for want, ere leaves are new,
Caught in the frozen palms of Spring.

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Another Post

This is an old metal post, standing resolute, and all alone in its independence on moorland at Ennerdale in West Cumbria.

  • I’ve made this photo available for free, from Pixabay. I hope you get some use from it.
Another Post

Resolution And Independence

There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning’s birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;—on the moors
The Hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; which, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

I was a Traveller then upon the moor;
I saw the Hare that raced about with joy;
I heard the woods, and distant waters, roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a Boy:
The pleasant season did my heart employ:
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.

But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might
Of joy in minds that can no farther go,
As high as we have mounted in delight
In our dejection do we sink as low,
To me that morning did it happen so;
And fears, and fancies, thick upon me came;
Dim sadness, and blind thoughts I knew not nor could name.

I heard the Sky-lark singing in the sky;
And I bethought me of the playful Hare:
Even such a happy Child of earth am I;
Even as these blissful Creatures do I fare;
Far from the world I walk, and from all care;
But there may come another day to me—
Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.

My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
As if life’s business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;
But how can He expect that others should
Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?

I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of Him who walked in glory and in joy
Behind his plough, upon the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified;
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.

Now whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a something given,
Yet it befel, that, in this lonely place,
When up and down my fancy thus was driven,
And I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
I saw a Man before me unawares:
The oldest Man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.

My course I stopped as soon as I espied
The Old Man in that naked wilderness:
Close by a Pond, upon the further side,
He stood alone: a minute’s space I guess
I watched him, he continuing motionless:
To the Pool’s further margin then I drew;
He being all the while before me full in view.

As a huge Stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a Sea-beast crawled forth, which on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself.

Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,
Nor all asleep; in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in their pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.

Himself he propped, his body, limbs, and face,
Upon a long grey Staff of shaven wood:
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
Beside the little pond or moorish flood
Motionless as a Cloud the Old Man stood;
That heareth not the loud winds when they call;
And moveth altogether, if it move at all.

At length, himself unsettling, he the Pond
Stirred with his Staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conn’d,
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now such freedom as I could I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
“This morning gives us promise of a glorious day.”

A gentle answer did the Old Man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
And him with further words I thus bespake,
“What kind of work is that which you pursue?
This is a lonesome place for one like you.”
He answered me with pleasure and surprise;
And there was, while he spake, a fire about his eyes.

His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
Yet each in solemn order followed each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest;
Choice word, and measured phrase; above the reach
Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
Religious men, who give to God and Man their dues.

He told me that he to this pond had come
To gather Leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From Pond to Pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God’s good help, by choice or chance:
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.

The Old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole Body of the man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a Man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, and strong admonishment.

My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
But now, perplex’d by what the Old Man had said,
My question eagerly did I renew,
“How is it that you live, and what is it you do?”

He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said, that, gathering Leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the Ponds where they abide.
“Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may.”

While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The Old Man’s shape, and speech, all troubled me:
In my mind’s eye I seemed to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.

And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and, when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn, to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
“God,” said I, “be my help and stay secure;
I’ll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor.”

William Wordsworth, 1815

A Little Girl Lost

Children of the future age,
Reading this indignant page,
Know that in a former time
Love, sweet love, was thought a crime.

In the age of gold,
Free from winter’s cold,
Youth and maiden bright,
To the holy light,
Naked in the sunny beams delight.

Once a youthful pair,
Filled with softest care,
Met in garden bright
Where the holy light
Had just removed the curtains of the night.

Then, in rising day,
On the grass they play;
Parents were afar,
Strangers came not near,
And the maiden soon forgot her fear.

Tired with kisses sweet,
They agree to meet
When the silent sleep
Waves o’er heaven’s deep,
And the weary tired wanderers weep.

To her father white
Came the maiden bright;
But his loving look,
Like the holy book
All her tender limbs with terror shook.

‘Ona, pale and weak,
To thy father speak!
Oh the trembling fear!
Oh the dismal care
That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair!’

William Blake

Hurricane Oscar

The County of Cumbria has currently got a Yellow Weather Warning in place, and is being drenched with heavy rain from former Hurricane, Oscar. And while we do have 70 mph winds associated with the storm, they are nowhere near the Category 2 winds that affected Bermuda in the Atlantic, a few days ago.

This morning, inspired by Oscar, I thought I would have a little Photoshop fun with an old photograph of mine of Wyndham School (now demolished) in Egremont, by giving the school some apocalyptic treatment similar to that seen in the Hollywood movie, the Day After Tomorrow.

Here is the original photo:

The Former Wyndham School, Egremont
The Former Wyndham School, Egremont

How Beautiful is The Rain

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.

From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And commotion;
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Ingulfs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean.

In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain!

In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
For this rest in the furrow after toil
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man’s spoken word.

Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures, and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain.

By H.W Longfellow