Michael’s Yard

Every time I drive down Station Road enroute to Kendal, I pass under a non-existent  sandstone railway bridge, with a high embankment to the left and, as I pass the Yard gates I am stepping out onto the platform at the station some seventy years ago.

My tri-annual journey by steam train from my home town on the north east coast has probably taken me the best part of a day through glorious country and with changes at Darlington, Barnard Castle, Kirkby Stephen, Tebay and Lowgill.

Ever since then railway stations have always held a special magic for me, because they have been the starting and stopping-off points for so many wonderful adventures in different countries.

In the fifties, coal and heavy goods arrived by goods train, with a few passenger trains including the school specials at the beginning and end of term.  These are history now and the yard has a lot of modern storage sheds, but still carries on the same business as before.

Yet, I can still hear the hiss of steam as the trains rumble over the Rawthey and the iron bridge from the south, or the sandstone viaduct over the Lune from the north as they both slow down approaching the station.

Where-ever  I am in the world, if given the choice, I will always travel by train and am convinced that the Romance started here, at Michael’s Yard, Sedbergh.


The Scotch Road

Sheep,wiser than the Romans
Not straight between two points
Follow the slope round and across
And contour to the col.

Drovers too would use this track
Humping sacks of wool
Or cursing cattle up the fell
And over into Scotland.

Soon, Windscarth Wyke and
White Fell Head
Are blown around in snow
Then Arant Haw and Hobdale Scar
Dance under white cloaks too.

And in the hills ,the story’s there
(No history book can tell so well)
By Standing Stone and track and ghyll
By names on maps they tell the tale.

Yet we have left the hills
To follow easy roads.
Will we come back
To walk the tracks of long ago?


A Hot Garsdale Tale

Purple cloud and double rainbows
Telescope the dale
Scatters the cars
Like metal petals.
Why do they need to leave?
Is beauty only in a sunny view?
The fells face feels the balmy freshness
Of the first rain for weeks.
Baked in the stifling valley
Waiting for this storm
Where does it find the patience?
The farmer’s learnt to wait
To take what nature brings.
He knows if you wait long enough
There’ll be a change.


Sedbergh 1940/2020

Seen and unseen enemies
Broom handles for rifles
Takeaways for Eat Insides
Going Through The Motions
Improvising Life.


March 24th 2020

Chasing the rainbow.
Up the hill today
To take the view from Crook
I contemplate the coming days, how the future looks.
The view was long, and I could linger in the glory of spring,
But my country needs me now!
There is talk of war.
I’ve been called up, to stay indoors.
Bubbles, wrap our home guard,
Those who fought our wars before.
Loved ones, historians,
The reason for our being,
In the front line once more.
There are no rules of combat,
This enemy is unseen,
And takes no prisoners.
It stalks and creeps by touch and words from mouths,
It carries on the wind, infiltrates our lines,
Holds us in captivity, plays upon the mind.

So today, as I welcome spring, I will answer the call,
And close my door to friends and all,
To look each day for rainbows.
I’ll wear a mask of positivity,
While my leaders sanitise the truth!
And feed us on the crumbs of Stats and chunks of fear.
I choke upon mixed messages,
We lose the hope of young,
Who venture still to meet their peers,
facing down the gun.
The rainbow….. came through people,
Community, being kind,
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers
All scrubbed up they stood and held the line.
A people murmuration! Though frightened by the unseen,
That was somewhere all around them,
Standing down never crossed their minds.


August 10th 2020 

Encouraged, we the people, Called up to stay at home,
Now venture to our doorsteps,
To drive the fight back home.
We clapped and sang, each time the rainbow grew,
So many hopes and dreams,
Placed upon the weary few.
The carers, drivers, Scientists,
Medics and more….. me, and you!
Those who stayed indoors and played their part,
Can lick our wounds but raise our “Standard” too.
As we inject the life back into life, our summer ends,
The war still being fought, may be coming to an end,
And I will climb the hill again and find that space.
Remember sunny days and views from Arrant Haw,
Where undulating earth and long skylines traced,
Would merge and melt, in distant summer haze,
The eyes run wild over such space,
Spying every dancing singing lark,
That up, and up, and up would go,
Until at last they leave you gazing into blue,
Where silver ships across the sky,
Lay trails of pink in evening hue.
…Its where you’ll find a rainbow too.