Today’s post is a celebration of stone. I’ve grown up seeing it used for buildings, country walls, and paths and miss it when I spend time in places where it is not so readily available. Stone is ancient and helpful: it softens, steadies, anchors.
My first stone bridge has pedigree. It’s one that the Brontë family used to cross the river across from the waterfall on the path that leads over the moor from Haworth to Top Withens. Actually the original bridge was swept away in a flood and this is a replacement, made to a similar design.
Anyone who thinks of stone as hard and unyielding hasn’t noticed how feet and water change it. You can see it on these stones, laid to preserve steps roughly cut into the hillside across from the Brontë bridge.
Steps like these are scattered throughout our wild places. They’re designed to suit ramblers who wouldn’t be up there if they couldn’t clamber a little. A landscape architect who carefully calculates the height and width of each rise might smile (or wince) and in practise, many countryside steps are flanked by worn, muddy paths that have proved easier to tread in normal conditions.
These river rocks would turn the ankle: luckily they’re not being used as a path but a decorative feature in a garden. Moss is gradually creeping over their patterned surfaces.
This rough and ready stone path leads from Grasmere to Rydal Water. Its higgledy piggledyness fascinates me. It doesn’t seem very old, does it? Not old enough for Wordsworth or Coleridge or their buddies, though I have no doubt they passed this way.
A standing stone marks the steps leading to a path through woodland – this is in the Midlands, but for many, that counts as North. It makes too lovely an addition here for us to quibble about geography.
I’ll end with another stone bridge crossing a river with fields enclosed by dry stone walls in the background. This is near the limestone pavement I wrote about in an earlier post.