Wider ‘contouring’ of Dukes Wood and Dukeries for Ordinary Culture. Beech trees in Dilliner Wood North and Silver Birch at Black Hill Clump within Clumber and Hardwick CP – image – Alison Lloyd
If you look at the Sherwood Forest Mansfield, Worksop & Edwinstowe OS Map 270 you will see that there is no ‘Dukes’ Wood. There is Pudding Poke Wood, Redgate Wood leading to Crowhill Wood, Nut Wood, Roe Wood, Dillner Wood, Hagley’s Plantation and Mansey Common. If you follow the right of way footpath between Nut Wood and Roe Wood along this narrow strip of woodland you can look out south to Broadclose Wood, along the Robin Hood Way. I have begun to ‘contour’ these woodland boundaries between sunset and moonrise.
My preferred walking terrain is a mountainous area, and if I cannot get out on to the hills in the Lakes, Snowdonia or Scotland I like to stride out across the bleak moorland in the Dark Peak in Derbyshire. I have also taken to walking at night with my head torch and spare batteries in lower lying areas, to re-enact some of my experiences hiking in geographically ‘remote’ places such as Glen Brittle in Skye, and the Cairngorms. Places that could be viewed as some of the few remaining ‘wilderness’ areas in the UK.
During these walks I am exploring my understanding of ‘wilderness’ and take with me a book by Paul Shepheard, ‘The Cultivated Wilderness – or what is Landscape’ and a paper written by David Reason, ‘Reflections of Wilderness and Pike Lane Pond’.
Walking in an area bound by fences, walls and hedges and private woods I am constrained from wandering freely, unlike my walking areas of choice. I could ignore the boundaries and climb over the fences and once more ‘stride out’ across the fields or meander through the private woods. I have chosen to follow the boundaries, which contradicts my particular excitement in finding places where I can easily roam and ‘contour’ off the beaten track to any point on the map.
We do not so much need to understand the form and nature of our emotional relationship with wilderness, as to recognise that the nature of wilderness is itself formed from our emotional being.
David Reason, Reflections of Wilderness and Pike Land Pond
The wilderness is not a landscape you visit, it is all around you, wherever you are.
Paul Shepheard, The Cultivated Wilderness – or what is Landscape
I will walk during periods of darkness to experience the site at times of discomfort, if not quite anxiety and fear.
Dukes Wood car park is about 1 kilometre from the nearest village (Eakring). The car park is regularly used for ‘Car Sex’ so there are times when I am not so sure that I want to be parked up there and walking solo and find myself accused of ‘Dogging’. Walking the area through 24 hours in an informal, disjointed way seems to go well with my desire to walk off the beaten track and to re-claim, a place as a lone woman walking artist.
I imagine that I am going against the grain, rebelling, redressing the balance of women artist’s striding out across the landscape; the lone figure in the landscape in what could be seen as an aggressive act.
I have been ‘walking out’ to eight ring contours around Alport Moor and Dale west of Derwent Reservoir and south of Bleaklow in the Dark Peak. The terrain is rough moorland and extends to five square kilometres.
image courtesy of Julian Hughes
Alport Moor is an area known for its Mountain or Arctic Hares. Its plateau-like contours were chosen because I felt it could stand in for the Cairngorm Plateau; a remote place that I could visit over and over again as a lone woman walker. I aim to re-claim this, ‘romantic territory’, which has been mainly associated with male artists who have walked out alone and focused to make their work. I am striding out on my own in way that could be described as an aggressive act of walking, to my own ‘summit’ and the eight remote ‘ring contours’.
In an email exchange with John Hammersley we discussed my reflection on fear, anxiety and awkwardness, and Petrach’s ascent of Ventoux, where there is something of the spirit of doubt and uncertainty in his journey. There is also doubt that he actually walked up the mountain and that his description of his journey was a metaphorical one.
image by Colette Ayers
I am noticing my fear, anxiety, and awkwardness in relationship to these places where getting lost or feeling lost can happen. I have also noticed a difference between fearing you are lost and fearing you have lost a walking companion – lost or abandoned. The paths to get lost on are the circular paths I am making in the ‘marking’ of the contours in the Dark Peak. A circular path that reflects the hermeneutic circle is non-linear and often a path for getting oneself lost on.
by Alison Lloyd