Some Favourite Horizons ~ the Silurian Sea Effect And The Changing Seasons


Here in the small English Midlands town of Much Wenlock,  we live in the lea of an upthrust ancient sea. (I may have mentioned this once or several times before). As I took this photo I was standing on the petrified flanks of Wenlock Edge – the compacted deposits of shallow tropical waters that teemed with giant sea scorpions, sea lilies,  corals, trilobites and all manner of brachiopods in the long ago age before fish, or indeed, before life as we know it.

In fact, as the photo well shows, we sit in a bowl, lodged between several folds in the landscape. It is a place of naturally rising springs, which is probably why St. Milburga’s family of Saxon Mercian princes founded an abbey here in the seventh century: pure water and the presumption of godliness going hand in hand. The town also has several other holy wells besides those associated with Milburga. It seems to have been the equivalent of a calling card. Every saint who visited Much Wenlock left us a well to remember them by. Then in the 1930s the good burghers of Wenlock decided they were a risk to physical well being and had them all capped.

Milburga’s Well, though, had especially enduring powers. As I have also mentioned before, the legends that tell of the life of this Paris-educated abbess, are routinely associated with springs bursting hither and thither. In fact so potent is her association with pure water sources that even in the late nineteenth century, rain collected from the roof of the parish church – a building founded on the remains of Milburga’s abbey, was still considered to be an essential ingredient  for beer brewing (never mind the additional mossy deposits). Likewise, water from the actual well was absolutely expected to cure all manner of eye disorders, as well as reflecting in its glassy surface the identity of husbands-to-be to the lovelorn Wenlock lasses who, come May Day, would rush to look there for signs of their future partners.

Anyway, I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that there are certainly great disadvantages to living your life in a hollow. It can limit your vistas in every sense. But there are advantages too. In our case it also means that whichever way you strike out of the town, you are always in for a fresh horizon. In every direction we have them; one for every moment of the day. So here are some of my favourites.

In June to the south of the town we had an outbreak of poppies. It was stupendous:



Then in late summer, standing at the southerly end of the town, among the wheat fields and looking north, I discovered this fine view of the Wrekin. Some trick of the light/perspective/geography has made it seem extraordinarily looming and close:



When it comes to the other quarters, if walk from the town centre, in an easterly direction, down the Bull Ring and out past the ruins of the 12th century Cluniac Priory, you will find the once monastic parkland where the Prior went hunting before the place was asset-stripped and sold off to Henry VIII’s faithful servants, and thereafter to generations of would-be gentry. This photo was taken a few days ago. A winter’s view then:



And then looking east from the north end of the town – this time from Windmill Hill:



Also there are the ever-changing westerly false-horizons as seen from our house that backs on to the foothills of Wenlock Edge:

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Finally, if you leave the town and climb on to Wenlock Edge itself, and if you can find a suitable gap in the trees, you can look west across Shropshire and towards the Welsh borderland:



And the reason why I’m posting all these views?

Well, this week the WordPress photo challenge invites us to pre-empt the New Year making of resolutions and post a photo impression of what that resolution might be, or if not a resolution, then of some envisaged new horizon; to look ahead beyond life’s present busyness.

This made me consider my own horizon-watching habit, which daily fills me with a sense of wonder.(For one thing I am very lucky to have the time to do it at all – a luxury of luxuries). It is a form of day-dreaming, or watchful meditation and a good way to rest a racing mind. I also enjoy posting views of my homeland landscapes because I believe we cannot love the world too much. But I’m wondering, too, if we don’t do altogether too much ‘looking ahead’, ‘looking for more/the next/the new.’

The fresh horizons we may be seeking are not really OUT THERE. “Look within to the universal self.” Inside each of us, that’s where all the work needs to be done if we want to see real change. I know I can change myself, though I recognise that I might need some assistance. I also know that I definitely cannot change others, much as I might wish to in these times when too many people appear to define their identities through their fear, envy and hatred of others. If anyone ever wants to know where hell is, then it is there.

copyright 2016 Tish Farrell


New Horizon

60 thoughts on “Some Favourite Horizons ~ the Silurian Sea Effect And The Changing Seasons

  1. It looks fabulous, Tish. The various horizons are breathtakingly beautiful. England at its best! ❤
    Enjoy your weekend. We're already in the Christmas mood … 🙂

  2. I could look at these views all day and I am especially envious of the poppy field, still one of my ‘must have’ shots [sigh…] I’m not looking ahead, I have already made a big change by moving here and I am content now just to enjoy life while I can.

      1. I’m with you both on enjoying life…my physical horizons may have shrunk, but there’s plenty to still enjoy! Not least the company of others….

  3. There is something about the clearly defined fields in the rolling hills that tweaks emotions. I’ve always loved the way that looks. Parts of upstate New York look very much like this, and geologically, there are many similarities, right down to the timing of the glacier coming and going. Maybe that is the way land looks near the end of an ice-age glacier. And the poppies. Ah. We had wild poppies in Israel. Smaller than cultivated ones, but equally bright. They covered the the Galilee in March.

    1. That’s a lovely image, Marilyn. Poppies in Galilee in March. Also an interesting thought about post-glacial landscape shaping. When I was a prehistory student we had a term of geology, which I really wanted to grasp because it was supposed to help us understand early human sites. And it might have addressed just this question – if I had understood a single word of it. Ah well.

  4. i like your inner view. I have always believed that we each hold heaven and hell within ourselves each moment of the day God has given us. I too am for finding the wonder and magic in where i am right now. And right now i am very grateful to Prashant Nawani ( The story of Footloose) for leading me to your site.
    I am enjoying your blog both for its history of the land and people, and for your insights into both .-Thank you!

  5. Absolutely loved this. I visited Much Wenlock about 6 weeks ago for the first time with the Stourbridge Ramblers and loved it. How lucky you are to live there. I need to revisit. These are gorgeous photos. With your interest in the land, you might like the author Jacquetta Hawkes. No longer alive, but fabulous writing by someone with passion, who could write about geology creatively. Free pdf of “A Land” on the web.

    1. Thanks so much for that link, and Jacquetta Hawkes is a name out of my student past. I think she was guest speaker at a Prehistory department dinner. I will look her up net-wise. Also glad you enjoyed your visit here. One walk is definitely not enough, though it does get a trifle claggy underfoot at this time of year. A crisp frosty day would be best 🙂

  6. Superb, Tish. I really enjoyed seeing your horizons. Grand vistas are lacking in my flat urban environment but there are plans for me to go to Manipur for a week before I have ten days leave with my family over Christmas in uk.

  7. Indeed, we cannot love the world too much. It is greedy (in a good way) for love. Having such beautiful horizons in your world must certainly be a help in changing whatever you wish to change in yourself.

  8. Tish this along with your extraordinary views is a most thought provoking post. I have done a lot of inner self work over the years which I think helped build a solid foundation in looking beyond and out of the comfort zone. Still one must be at peace and content within. I shall be mulling this one over for some time.

  9. A lovely love song to a landscape and a thoughtful think-ahead. With geology and history for seasoning. That first photo is particularly wonderful, with its layers of gold and the golden grass in the foreground.

    1. That is definitely one of my favourite views. It’s on a circular walk so one can either go up that from our house and along the Edge and round or vice versa. But the latter’s always best – the sense of dropping down little by little, the town coming into view, a real home-coming, but in a rather mythic way, as in a story book, as if I’m someone else. Which is all a bit odd for a Sunday morning 🙂

      1. I love the thought of a near quotidian mythical arrival home. We used to play a game with the kids as we drove up the bush track to the house: “Ah, there’s a nice little house in the forest. Should we stop there and see if it can be our house?”

    1. Thank you, Gilly. Those poppies were such a surprise. I guess someone must have sown them – a bit of guerrilla gardening maybe. They continued on over the hill and into the next field.

  10. I was going to give one of my flipperty gibbet answers about deserting Jude and joining you on the hill with a glass of something, but this post deserves better, Tish. Your landscapes are stunning but it’s the mind behind the camera that I love.

  11. Just fallen in love with this poppies’ field. Congrats for the pictures. So lucky that you can enjoy those incredible landscapes every day 🙂

  12. Another masterful piece of prose. There are very few writers in blogville that I enjoy as much as you.
    And your photographs are smashing as well.
    Love the poppy shot.

  13. Like so many before me, Tish, I love this series of captures. You live is such a beautiful part of the world, with that poppy-filled landscape simple breath-taking. How ever did you tear yourself away from the sight?

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