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A Week in Grasmere

A Week in Grasmere

I have just returned from a week’s retreat in Grasmere in the Lake District, the home of the poet William Wordsworth, whose house we visited. We also had a trip to Brantwood, the beautiful residence of John Ruskin, the great Victorian polymath, on the banks of Coniston lake. The sudden heatwave coincided with my retreat and we basked in warm sunlight, appropriate given the theme of the retreat; ‘Real Presence – There is a Light in Everything’. Our guides were Daniel O’Leary and Margaret Sibberry speaking from the Catholic tradition using poetry, film, literature, liturgy, theology, sharing and silence to gather and feed us. On the Thursday I walked up to Easdale Tarn sitting high above the town and imbibed the sunshine and stillness of the lake. Here is a photo essay and the poem that came to me after my walk.


Easdale Tarn

I came back from high Easdale Tarn

having walked off my ingratitude.

A spark of sheep with earthen smell,

the lone herdwick greenly chewing

willing to absorb all those spines

that needle me into its dusky pelt.

The tarn when I reached it, rippled.

with my unstillness and then settled

into the flawless reflection of the crag.

On the way down again I spilled

over into the waterfall old griefs,

ones I commonly pinch back in my throat

leading to misery’s heartburn.

The winding dry stone wall greyly,

slate driven led me down carefully

into the field, where the cows lay

herd-wise in the heat, sighing cuddily.

A mother beast lay her brow softly

on the brown vastness of her bull,

as they mothered and fathered me

in the afternoon’s milky haze.

The bridge over the final beck

smoothed its slaten flags towards

the little red postbox and I composed

all my letterly regrets to be sent

to those I bruise and a long missive

of frustration to one whose help didn’t.

But that one was really a letter to myself.

I felt the path wondering under my feet

if it’s directness had been too brutal

but the gate to the road opened and

welcomed all the scuffs my boots wear.

I came back from High Easdale Tarn

and my teacup was white like a new page.



Glenthorne Quaker Guest House


From my window


Wordsworth’s kitchen


Brentwood gardener’s shed


Looking up to Brantwood

Version 2

Clouds over Coniston from Brantwood


The Old Man of Coniston and an old tree


A spark of sheep


Swimmer at Easdale Tarn


A stilness at Easdale Tarn


Views to Grassmere


Bull and Cow


Post Box over the Beck




No Comments
  • Caroline Taylor

    Deep sigh of appreciation. Thank you Brother

    September 17, 2016at9:54 am
  • Searingly honest and visceral Adrian. I walked a similar walk in Molino del Rey a few weeks ago, it taught me to listen to my body in my yoga practice for the source of the pain, sometimes deeper than bone and sinew! Sorry I did not know about this retreat I would have come too!

    September 17, 2016at2:21 pm
  • lydiagaelach

    I love this, Adrian!
    So envious of your word wizardry!
    I’ve been writing poetry all day by waterfalls and burns and becks and tarns but it is staying self consciously between my ears. Maybe when I get back to Cork I’ll play with the ideas on paper.
    aaaaahhhhhhh! your talent is immense!
    Thank you for sharing it.

    September 17, 2016at11:03 pm

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