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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 ............


18 comments:

  1. I have seen so many cairns over the years of varying shapes, sizes and designs, and I'm with you in not having no problem seeing them there, we've been on a few long climbs and shared the relief in seeing the summit cairn, and when the weather really does come in they are a god send, and have no doubt helped many a lost walker. I have many favourites, but the one I treasure most is at the top of Mount Olympus, on Skolio that we topped earlier this year, amazing memories x
    http://walksnwildlife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/mount-olympus.html

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    1. but in hindsight it is technically a trig point!! but still a special one.

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  2. The only place I've seen cairns is in Hawaii, when visiting last year. I thought it was really cool to see a little present left behind by other travelers. Great painting! I love the photos too! :)

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    1. Heather I would love to visit Hawaii - it's on my bucket list of things to do and places to go before I leave this lovely world of ours. Thank you for your comment, really good to see you x

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  3. Still looking in though perhaps not saying much. Keep on keeping on Sharon, and enjoy.

    Regards, Pete.

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    1. Lol thank you Pete - I'm keeping track of your blog too - keep up the good work!

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  4. Never climbed a mountain or even a hill on foot in my life, and at this age not likely to either. I'm amazed at these cairns and think they are very interesting, and if not for your blog I'd never have known about them. So thanks for sharing this bit of knowledge. Love your painting of the cairn and great pictures too.

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    1. Elaine I had never really come across cairns until I started hill walking, I've always thought they were quite quirky things and always wonder who actually built them - they have such history. I'm glad I've introduced you to something you didn't know about - maybe I'll see a drawing of one in your sketch book soon?!! It was great that you painted the bull by the way - loved it!

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  5. Well I managed to get up and down Snowdon in one go many moons ago. Nowadays if it doesn't have a chair lift I don't go up. I stick to lower ground. Love the way you injected so much colour into your cairn Sharon. Keep those boots walking as they definitely inspire you.

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    1. I will definitely keep the boots walking Laura, I can't imagine my life without it anymore - or painting! Well done for hiking up Snowdon - hope you got a view!

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  6. Another great painting and blog... very interesting Sharon....as a non walker, didn't know that about using the cairns as sort of beacons to help find your way!!

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    1. Yes Judith they do mark out the path in some areas, and can indicate ways off a summit which is not always clear so as well as being quirky little works of art they do have their uses!!

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  7. Now there's a good subject for a series. Nice range of colour in your rendition of the stones.

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    1. you know Mick it's funny you should say that because I do quite fancy painting a series of them so you may see some more on here in the future!

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  8. Another brilliant post, Sharon - you ought to consider publishing an illustrated journal of your 'walks'!

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    1. John that's actually a good idea, I'd love to do something like that

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  9. Beautiful and lovely work. I especially love the multicolors in the rocks. It's very fascinating.

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  10. Neat watercolor and wonderful post! Here in California, I hadn't heard about cairns really until the Goldsworthy movie which I loved. Thanks for all the photos! :-)

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I love hearing from you, thank you so much for leaving a comment - I will always try to leave a reply and pop over to visit your blog if you have one - although sometimes I may be slower than others, have a wonderful day xx