Lines on the Landscape: introduction

Across the AONB

From : Valerie Belsey

The line, the shadow is always there, even if you can’t see it or it isn’t entirely apparent’ –

Andy Goldsworthy, talking about the British landscape

The artist Andy Goldsworthy refers to what we see which relates to the human’s presence when we look at the countryside; but there is also what we hear in our heads too. Personal memories relate to a place or memories of what someone else has written echo in our mind and seem to add something to what we actually see.

Writing about landscape

These pages give an account of writers on the AONB, and relate their writings to a landscape as well as to what they have to say about it. It can not just be a who’s who of who lived here as they might have been writing about something completely unconnected to where they were living.  

Unlike an historical account of a landscape the people who write about it come and go quite quickly so there will be people who might feel left out here because we didn’t know what they said or what they were going to say. We apologise for this. This mini-anthology takes us up to 2000, and you can always trace more of an author’s writings by going to the bibliography, or by finding them on the web or in the library.

Only a glimpse

This survey of writers on the landscape can only give a glimpse of who lived here and wrote about it in the past. Gordon Waterhouse has left a fine legacy of his weekly writings which appeared in the Kingsbridge Gazette over a number of years and can be found in Kingsbridge Library today.

Lines on the landscape

This brief overview of lines on the landscape concludes with another extract from Henry Williamson whose prose captures the majesty of Bolt Tail (pictured) like no other:

On the great craggy precipice Phillip called Valhalla the gulls soared, glided, threw-up and fell crook-winged, blaking, crying, gabbling, hanging in the upblast of wind a few yards from his face, yellow-eyed and wind-ruffled. Daws winged their speedy blackness down the wind, shooting down and checking uneasily; buzzards sailed high, with sweeping leisure and then – crossing the sky at tremendous speed, swinging round into the wind to hang aloft – two peregrine falcons. Two shaftless arrow-heads of iron, he thought two black stars of the day, cutting into the blast. The wings were black, the heads blunt, tails short, thick and stocky – they remained motionless, as though held there, at a thousand feet.


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Lines on the Landscape: introduction

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BIBLIOGRAPHY and credits

Baring-Gould Archive on line at English Folk Song and Dance Society: Sabine Baring-Gould

Born, Anne: Transactions of the Devonshire Society Salcombe Edition 2000

Born, Anne: Transactions of the Devonshire Society 1992 Edition for ‘The Quarry a poem sequence.’

Chaucer, Jeffrey: The Canterbury Tales

Christie, Agatha: Five Little Pigs, 1943, Harper Collins 2007

Ellis, Vian: Green Country, Intro by Bob Mann, Longmarsh Press, 2008

Galsworthy, John: Wembury Church from Poet’s England Volume 7, Brentham Press, 1986

Masefield, John: Hall Sands in The Speaker, 16 May 1903

Oswald, Alice: Dart, Faber and Faber 2002

Sheriff, R.C.: Journey’s End,  Secker and Warburg, 1928

Waterhouse, Gordon: Wildlife of the Kingsabridge and Salcombe Estuary, Orchard Publications, 1992

Williamson, Henry: The Innocent Moon, Panther, 1961

Wreyford, Paul: A Literary Tour of Devon, Orchard Publications, 1998

Yeats, Jack B. Collected Plays, Secker and Warburg, 1971


With thanks to The Society of Authors as the Literary Representatvive of the Estate of John Masefield for permission to quote 'Hall Sands'.

With thanks to The Henry Williamson Literary Estate for permission to quote passages from 'The Innocent Moon': Henry Williamson

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