Above: The High Fields, Coverdale, limited edition print.
The first time I came to Coverdale I was driving from Durham to Dow Cave – a pothole in Wharfedale. As I pootled into Wensleydale I worked out that if I took the road over the end of Penhill I could cut off a substantial corner. It was one of my better decisions but I doubted its wisdom at first.
My little blue Morris 1000 van, nicknamed The Jellymould, struggled up the near vertical hairpin bends of Capple Bank with a groaning gearbox but finally made it to the highest point of the road. I pulled over and got out.
From here a great swathe of Yorkshire was laid out. To the left lay Wensleydale, with the ridges of Swaledale beyond. Ahead lay the Vale of York and, beyond, the North York Moors. To my right lay the undiscovered country of Coverdale but, looking across the grouse-chattering moor, I could see a promising line of fells.
I got back into the Morris, crossed the moor and came through a tiny village into a small (by Yorkshire standards) dale of green fields, heather and bracken uplands, and limestone farms. Lost in trees in the valley bottom flowed the little River Cover. I turned toward the Dale head and my destination.
I’ve made the journey to the Dale dozens of times since, and it’s always wonderful. As you drive east Coverdale grows narrower, the hillsides steeper, the ground more barren. Green hedges become drystone walls. Driving up the rise to the watershed, the bulk of Great Whernside looms up on the left. Across the moor to the right lie drove roads to Waldendale and Bishopdale. To either side of the cattle grid at the Dale Head is the Dark Age earthwork of Tor Dyke.
This place is close to heaven. Behind, Coverdale’s modest length of seventeen miles disappears into the distance. Ahead, the heights of Park Rash fall away into Wharfedale. Above, larks seem to sing in a summer sky, even in winter.
(From Places of Pilgrimage by Ian Scott Massie, published by SPCK)
Copies of The High Fields, Coverdale print and the book of Places of Pilgrimage are available from Masham Gallery. For print CLICK HERE, for the book CLICK HERE.
Below: Coverdale, watercolour
Places of Pilgrimage: Cambridge
The tour of my exhibition Places of Pilgrimage has reached its final destination: Cambridge Contemporary Art. This lovely gallery have represented me for many years and it's the perfect place for the exhibition's travels to end.
I'm including three images from the exhibition in this blog: Bridge of Sighs, Dawn, King's College and Stockport Viaduct.
In the book which accompanies the exhibition I give a description of my first visit to Cambridge:
"I parked on Queen’s Road where the broad paddocks look across to Trinity College. And, like a stroll through a country meadow, the path led to the River Cam and over a small bridge. I stood and looked at the iconic stretch of water. Like the warm, grainy footage of an old travelogue, punts were gliding beneath trailing willows, and mellow stone colleges lay between me and the city centre.
I entered Cambridge between the high walls of Trinity Lane. By great good fortune I had found my way into the heart of this beautiful city by the loveliest route.
On my right was the tower of Great St. Mary’s Church and the ethereal majesty of King’s College. Along the road to my left lay the great gate house of Trinity College and the Round Church. This short half mile of astonishing architecture, from the elaborate gilded beasts of St. John’s to the half-timbered perfection of Queen’s College, captivated me then and still does.
The atmosphere, even when this street is at its busiest, is relaxed, as though Cambridge wears her jewels lightly. Shadows span the narrow spaces, sun falls on warm stones and bicycles of every vintage glide between the buildings.
Many people strive to come here: to study where their heroes have studied, to dip into the huge river of knowledge which flows behind those college gates and, of course, to tread the hallowed boards of the university’s famed Footlights Society, where Fry and Laurie, Mitchell and Webb and so many Pythons and Goodies have learned their trade.
For me it is a place for browsing in bookshops, for lingering over a coffee, for picking up a pencil and sketching a Georgian cupola, a Baroque pediment, a Tudor tower. For an architectural pilgrim or an artist it is close to heaven."
The exhibition continues at Cambridge Contemporary Arts until May 1st 2017. I hope you manage to visit but, if not, you can see all the pictures from the exhibition if you CLICK HERE