Anne Waggot Knott – Bibliotreks Part 4

Small derelict house-like structure in rural landscape at High Cup.

Bibliotreks: 4. Forest-in-Teesdale – Cow Green Reservoir – High Cup Nick

These last two walks were solitary, offering me space for reflection on the commission and planning for the rest of the project.

I didn’t really want to do an out-and-back here; I would have preferred to walk all the way from Forest-in-Teesdale to Appleby but the stars did not align. Or, more accurately, the “one bus a week on a Wednesday plus two more non-existent connections” did not align. If we’re going to prevent people like me consuming diesel for two hours to reach the start of a day walk, we need our authorities to get creative with public transport.

Following negotiations with cattle (I lost, scrambled down a bank, climbed a few walls I shouldn’t have, and took the long route!) I hit the Pennine Way. For a popular long distance footpath it was deserted. These peripheral areas really do take some seeking out. After two weeks of carefree sunshine the stifling flat light and low, grey clouds felt oppressively melancholy. It is downright delicious though, the combined luxury of solitude and a big, new landscape to explore. I drank it in.

Human-made structures popped up with increasing regularity and stature. I thought more and more about making, crafting, building, about utility versus beauty, or perhaps utility as a facet of beauty. I thought about vistas and structures punctuating the landscape. From the farmers’ ingenious dog-gates and the tatty red flags on the MOD firing range to the ancient steppingstones and Cow Green Reservoir’s hulking great concrete dam, they are all sculptures in their own right.

We engineer structures that connect us but also structures that keep us apart, that separate, compartmentalise, isolate, defend. We build structures for the here and now, but we still don’t consider keenly enough their eventual degradation and abandonment. After all, we won’t be here. Who will?

Anne Waggot Knott

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