Track­ing down a pas­toral idyll in The Lakes

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

IF you some­times han­ker for the pas­toral coun­try­side of 16th Cen­tury Eng­land, then fol­low me and the Cur­ragh Sons to Kent­mere, four miles down a sin­gle-track road from the vil­lage of Stave­ley in Cum­bria.

Es­sen­tial cloth­ing for your visit should in­clude shep­herd’s smock, or milk­maid’s garters, and stout leather boots.

And don’t for­get to ac­ces­sorise with a piece of straw held at a jaunty an­gle be­tween your teeth and a pewter tankard for some hearty ale.

Kent­mere amounts to a hand­ful of farms and con­verted out­build­ings, in­clud­ing Maggs Howe Farm­house B&B, which boasts the sealed and stamped deeds to the prop­erty dat­ing back to 1703 hang­ing up in the din­ing room. Kent­mere born Chris­tine Hevey, who runs the es­tab­lish­ment with Dubliner hus­band Paddy, showed me an even ear­lier deed-of-sale from 1623.

The view from Maggs Howe is pos­si­bly one of the best views in Eng­land, and the walk from Hawk­shead Brew­ery in Stave­ley, where the band per­form, is a four-mile treat, although it took us two hours in­stead of one as I kept stop­ping to take photographs like the hawthorn blos­som seen here.

Although the road is mostly sin­gle-track, the so-called Green Road in the heart of Kent­mere, lit­tle has changed in 500 years, which makes it even more en­chant­ing. It’s prob­a­bly more over­grown these days, with a thick cov­er­ing of moss and lichens on the stone walls, and in­deed some of the trees, in­clud­ing a hoary old crab-apple which is over a hun­dred years old.

Del­i­cate hare­bells com­peted with so solid clap­per-type stiles of stone for my pho­to­graphic at­ten­tions, and I think the re­sults were a tie, but how many sto­ries could this by-road tell?

Lovers’ trysts, lost dogs and un­doubt­edly the pass­ing by of one JRR Tolkien, for this is his ‘Shire’ if ever there were one.

Another thing that stood out to me was that the sheep fleeces are very clean, with no in­dus­trial pol­lu­tion blow­ing over them there hills and no A628 nearby with its daily fog of ex­haust to dis­colour them fur­ther.

I got to talk­ing to Chris­tine about the sheep, and although she doesn’t farm any more her­self her sis­ter does and other farm­ers use her fields.

Not many peo­ple know this but Chris­tine told me that Lake­land shep­herds have their own, long stand­ing, sys­tem of count­ing sheep, and it pro­gresses nu­mer­i­cally un­til 15, which is Bum­fit, and then leaps to 20, which trans­lates as Gig­got, run­ning as fol­lows: Yan, Tyan, Thethera, Me­hthera, Pimp, Sethera, Lethera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick, Yan-A-Dick, TyanA-Dick, Tethera-A-Dick and Methera-A-Dick.

I think this method could be use­ful for the band when we have to re­port home about how many pints we had to drink at the Hawk­shead Brew­ery – my wife Nicole will not un­der­stand a word when she asks: “Did you have a few?” I could re­ply in all hon­esty, “I only had Yan-A-Dick, although it could have been Bum­fit, and it cer­tainly wasn’t Gig­got!”

The Cur­raghs next play at Hawk­shead Brew­ery on Fri­day, July 8.

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

●● Hawthorn Blos­som on the road to Kent­mere

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