The Limestone Way – Jenny Bridge

This is the land I love.

The land I mourn when far away.

The land that draws me back.

My home.

Come. Walk with me on this ancient way.

You will feel history and see magical things that delight you.

Look closely at this grey white rock.

It’s just rock, I hear you say.

It’s just part of the scenery.

And so it is.

But do you know how it came to be this way?

Long long ago – three hundred and fifty million years ago, they tell me,

Warm water covered this place.

A semi tropical lagoon fringed with reefs, alive with coral.

A little paradise. And in the shallow waters swam a host of creatures.

Some tiny, some giants.

Billions of them.

Like all that lives, they died

And sank to the water’s floor.

Sleeping for ever in their shells.

Compressed by the weight of time they turned to stone.


The stone that gives this land its magic –

Caves, underground rivers, strange shapes, towering cliffs.

Great lumps of stone interrupting the green roundness of the land.

Stop before you squeeze yourself through that narrow stile.

Look at the stones that make the lumpen wall.

Look closely, very closely.

Can you see? Can you find intricate shapes of shells, of creatures,

Of fronds, stuck in time, signatures of those who formed the stone so long ago.

Volcanoes worked their magic too.

Splitting rock, forming cracks, spewing hot liquid, laden with minerals.

Minerals that flowed into those cracks,

Settling, cooling, crystallising into treasure waiting to be found.

Man came.

And finding the wealth of stone, of minerals

Used it, enjoyed it, exploited it.

Building henges, burial places for their dead, forts, places for gatherings, for ancient


Can you sense their presence? Stand awhile.

Can you feel the echoes of mystical ceremonies?

Next came the Romans,

Mining for lead.

Leaving scattered ingots.

Evidence of their toil,

Building roads with that, already ancient, stone.

Roads for soldiers marching across the bleak lands,

Dreaming of olive groves and warmth.

Can you hear their tramping feet? Can you feel their homesick dreams?

Saxons next and roads for traders.

Carrying lead and wool to sell, returning with salt and textiles from afar.

Then Normans building churches, a castle.

Medieval manors followed, abbeys, farms,

A duke fleeing from the Roundheads.

More mines, quarries, mills,

Writers giving immortality to undistinguished villages.

So much industry, so much activity., so much history.

Yet now this ancient way is calm.

A place for solitude, for leisure, contemplation and reflection.

Come, walk, observe and learn.

But most of all enjoy.


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