Stefan Escreet and Peter Macqueen walked from Grange at the South of Derwentwater into the Borrowdale Valley to visit Millican Dalton’s Cave. Millican Dalton was a self-styled “Professor of Adventure” who spent summers in a cave on the side of Castle Crag for nearly 50 years, from the 1920s through to the 1950s. In the winters, he spent his time in a hut in Buckinghamshire. He wasn’t a recluse, though: Millican Dalton used to lead walks and share his philosophy of simple living. The cave has since become something of a place of pilgrimage.
In 2016 Stefan and Peter worked together on Peter’s one-man show The Professor of Adventure: with Peter as the performer, and Stefan as the Director. The play is set in the cave.
For their Artful Way, Stefan and Peter walked again to the cave, and made a new sound recording.
Answering the three Artful questions
What does creativity/culture mean to you?
We pondered on this as we walked through the woods. Chimney Sweeper Moth!*
We agreed that we all tell stories to reach out and connect with others, to make sense of things, celebrate things, raise questions about things. Ringlet!* Peter and I happen to do this professionally. Life feels better, richer, more meaningful when creativity and culture are allowed to flourish. Small Tortoiseshell!*
*Peter is a butterfly and moth expert and kept spotting them among the grasses and ferns.
Covid-19 has forced us all to reimagine ways to connect. What have you missed – and what new possibilities have opened up?
We have both missed the buzz of collaborating with other people on live performances.
Both of us have had opportunities to work on digital projects – something that might not have happened before it became a necessity in the pandemic. Peter has enjoyed developing the filmed versions of a new work called The Butterfly Collector (see it on his website Pmac Productions). Stefan worked on the production of a trio of short audio plays for the Keeping the Lights On project for Ragged Edge Productions.
How can we, collectively, and artfully, better care for our environment?
We realised that The Professor of Adventure was an attempt to do this. Millican Dalton was ahead of his time in some of his thinking on environmental issues and the play’s central theme is freedom. Unless we all make changes happen we stand to lose the freedom to enjoy the natural environment that has brought so much joy and peace of mind.
When we got to the cave we recorded a speech from the play where Millican listens to the melodic sound of the water dripping and let’s his imagination run free.