Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Gibbon Hill

Went to Richmond yesterday afternoon. Had a wander round the charity shops there. There's often a good LP to be had, but not yesterday. Went to the bank. Later went for a bike ride to the top of Gibbon Hill, one end of a horseshoe ridge enclosing Apedale, a minor valley between Wensleydale and Swaledale. Why it should be called Gibbon Hill I've not the faintest idea: I can think of few places where you're less likely to see a gibbon*. To get there meant cycling miles of hardcore track up past the ruin of an old leadmine and then a long, pretty sustained climb on the road. Somebody was out running up ahead of me. I never caught them up. Just over the brow of the hill, it was back onto the moor along a landrover track. I had to walk the last few yards. I stopped at the summit cairn to have a drink and admire the view. East: across the Vale of York to the North Yorkshire Moors some twenty miles away. Thought of George's recent Coast to Coast walk. The sun was catching the structures in the industrial complex that lies on the coast beyond Middlesborough. I could almost see the sea. South: to our local "big hills" (well, big by local standards), Great Whernside and Buckden Pike. North: to Fremington Edge. West: to Rogan's Seat and the next hill, Apedale Head. The ground was very stony and at my feet I found a stone with beautiful lichen patterns on it.



I found myself wondering if patterns like this had in any way inspired prehistoric "cup and ring" marks. They could also have been some of the earliest signs of life on this planet: patterns on stones before there was anyone -or anything- around to see them.

On the way down I could hear -and finally saw- a curlew (not an unusual sight round here) and narrowly avoided running over a very small frog.

Reading Andy Warhol's Diaries has got me googling Songs for Drella by Lou Reed and John Cale. (I think it was this album that first got me into Warhol although, as a Velvet Underground fan I'd been aware of him before that). The lyrics for the album, based on things Warhol had said, fascinated me when I first read them. So many things about the man would take a casual, unsympathetic observer of the sixties by surprise. He was very conventional in some ways with a penchant for working hard. Reed and Cale are on Youtube singing one of the songs, Work. (The French subtitles mystefied me, until I checked out the origin of the word "marmite" - it's French for a large, covered cooking-pot, in case you didn't know).

*The knoll above our village is known as Zebra Hill and I've never seen a zebra there, either.

7 comments:

George said...

I enjoyed this post, Dominic, the walk, the bike ride, and the view. Glad that you saw a curlew; I saw several on my trip. Sad, however, that you missed the gibbons and the zebras. I found many of each species in the moors.

Jessica Maybury said...

I really liked this post, and am looking forward to finding that album! I love new things :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

You forgot one thing you did on the summit cairn! You phoned me!
Could Gibbon be a surname? But then surely Zebra isn't a surname - yet another of life's little mysteries.

Jessica Maybury said...

maybe it's somehow related to gibbous?

Jessica Maybury said...

or gibbet?

Niamh B said...

thanks for the intro to that song, tis an interesting one...

Rachel Fenton said...

Really enjoyed reading all about your local zoo!