Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything


I finally got out for a good walk yesterday – it’s been too long. I climbed Shutlingsloe – the odd little crooked pyramid that dominates the south-east corner of the Forest – after crossing the peaty moorland you can see in the photo. Not a great picture I’m afraid but at least it gives some sense of the spaciousness of the approach.

It was good to hear the almost continuous highpitched warbling cry of curlews – rare these days but the conservation efforts here must have been working because I could hear them almost all the time – and also the high pitched continuous tweeting of skylarks. I tried once to describe this in a poem as ‘larks scribbling their songs on the sky’ – the best I could do in words!

In the forest the bluebells were just starting to come out,  and there were a surprising number of peacock butterflies, though not the orange tips which are generally so common a little later in the year. 

Later I discovered this spring, which I think I’d missed in the past. The water was just emerging straight from the hillside. Such places give such a sense of elemental life it’s easy to understand how they can be felt as sacred. It was a delight to find this one. The photo can’t give the full sense of life, but at least it may communicate something.





In late afternoon I found this rough stone gatepost, probably pierced just so a pole could be put through the hole to meet a similar post on the other side of a gap or path – or maybe to take the hinge or fastening of a gate. The low angle of the sun brought out beautifully both the texture of the stone and especially (at lower right of the stone) the bench-mark so expertly carved into the rock during the making of the Ordnance Survey of Britain.


People talk about ‘benchmarks’ all the time in political discussions. I wonder how often they know what a bench-mark is? It’s actually a horizontal groove where the end of a surveying instrument was rested, plus an arrow beneath to indicate the line and what it is. It creates this beautiful hieroglyph which has quite a mysterious appearance. I love finding them – they’re all over the place, nearly always overlooked – including in cities. They’re always beautifully cut, and yet I’ve never seen any discussion of the expert stonemasons who must have accompanied the surveyors to cut them. This is a lovely one.




Just started going out walking again in the North-West after months away from Manchester.

The part of the Peak District just east of Macclesfield has a special magic for me. I made an easy start this time, walking from Tegg’s Nose over to the Forest, then around the Forest and up to the summit of Shuttlingsloe.

Drifts of old English bluebells on slopes under trees at the north edge of the forest

To my delight I heard a cuckoo in the forest – the first I’ve heard this year, and given how rare they are now it could be the last, though I hope not. There were also great clouds of orange tip butterflies, though they were so restless that the only sharp-focus picture I could get shows one on dead leaves, rather than the flowers where I tried in vain to catch them!

One of the hundreds of orange-tip butterflies enlivening the forest

Maybe the most memorable sight was the vast drifts of bluebells covering hillsides under the trees; and these are the old English bluebells, the frailer, gracefully drooping ones, rather than the stiffer and apparently more robust ‘Spanish’ ones – lovely though these can also be.

Looking across a cleared area, over a belt of broadleaves, towards a misty Shuttlingsloe

A great day anyhow; and it’s good to be back writing this blog after such a long absence.