Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Art in the Landscape
Cairns of all shapes and sizes have graced the Earth since prehistoric times and can be found all over the world in uplands, moorlands, deserts, sea cliffs, acting as waymarkers and indicating mountain summits.....not everyone likes cairns and feel that they ruin the natural landscape but I love them - they can certainly be a very comforting site when the clag comes in and you suddenly can't see more than 10 ft in front of you ! ...... a cairn ahead reassures you that you're on the right path ..... and oh what a welcome sight a summit cairn can be when you've had a long, hard slog up a particularly steep slope!! It's common for walkers to add a stone to the top of a cairn as they pass - I like to add a stone to summit cairns, it feels like I've left a little piece of myself at the top!
These summit cairns vary in size from small stone markers to huge piles that are like a hill in themselves and they also vary in their complexity - from loose, untidy piles of stones to elaborate works of art! Andy Goldsworthy, the Scottish landscape artist has certainly recognised the art in the humble cairn and is known for creating them in his work. Give him a google!
The watercolour sketch above is of the trig point cairn at the summit of Red Screes in the Lake District and was painted as a gift for another friend who completed her final Wainwright there. It was painting this that made me think of all the different varieties of cairns there are and how they are actually works of art in themselves in our landscapes. Here are a few more of these artworks from photographs I've taken on my walks
I love this cairn on Blea Crag overlooking Derwentwater
and this one on High Spy - complete with cairn huggers!
This is one of my favourites, at the summit of Dale Head looking down over the Newlands Valley in the Lake District
One of the summit cairns on Pike O Blisco in the Lake District
now to Snowdonia - this is another of my favourites - it doesn't sit on a summit but on the Aran ridge between Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy
and the huge obelisk that sits on the Nantlle Ridge in Snowdonia to mark the summit of Mynydd Tal y Mignedd
I'd like to say my favourite fell in the Lake District had a cairn as grand as the above but unfortunately, poor old Blencathra's beautiful summit is marked by a rather scraggy pile of stones although I've added a few more in the times I've been up there, not that it has made a lot of difference!
Would love to hear of favourite cairns that any walking blogger chums may have and as always I love reading all your comments. Til next time ............