Birthday walk for a four year old…
Up in Cheshire, up in Hill Country, a birthday has been celebrated…
Remember The Library in the Landscape, conceived in a poet’s head, then created and installed in a sheltered hollow just below the summit at Tegg’s Nose?
Each year since March 2013 Techno Son-in-Law (the Countryside Ranger in charge of Tegg’s Nose) and Ailsa Holland (Macclesfield’s very own poet) have led an anniversary walk out to a rather unconventional Library.
“Some people expect a massive building,” Techno Son-in-Law remarked on Saturday afternoon. He reminded the walkers of the idea’s origins – small free book exchanges, often in urban settings, in locations across the United States. The concept has had other takers in recent year; in the UK redundant village telephone kiosks sometimes now hold books for community sharing.
A mixed bunch of walkers had set off from the Tegg’s Nose building on a Saturday stroll. There were families and friends, as well as folks curious as to where this place could possibly be. The Poet and the Ranger reiterated the tale: the idea, the identification of the site, the crowd funding that covered the costs, the construction of the library box, the donations of books… Along the way pauses were made to take in the views: south to Shutlingsloe, at 506 metres regarded as Cheshire’s very own Matterhorn.
Then there was the gritstone quarry, an interpretation given of the Ice Age landscape and its geological evidence of a river’s route. Next the smaller children explored the quarry equipment before the final push to the hidden library.
Then, there it was – familiar yet different… Three winters had taken its toll and the box has been rebuilt in sturdier, more weatherproof form.
It was a celebration: brief speeches were made, excerpts from the Visitors’ Book were read and, more or less tunefully, ‘Happy Birthday dear Library in the Landscape’ was sung. “Hip, hip hooray” added the more youthful members of the group.
From a path above the party was discovered. A local lady (and her two spaniels) scrambled down the goat track, books in hand to return to the library. Then two other children arrived via the steep shortcut to see what the fuss was about.
Books returned and borrowed, the Library’s Visitors’ Book perused and signed, the walking group began to wend its way back to the Tegg’s Nose Centre.
“The heather is strimmed annually,” Techno Son-in-Law explained as the group regained height. Keeping it low is beneficial to the bilberry crop apparently. A return via the summit allowed for a geocache conversation – and then a view over Macclesfield, the town hazy in mist and Jodrell Bank visible only when the great telescope dish swung round. Further on fresh red earth thrown up on the ridge line indicated some very recent badger activity.
Back at the site entrance Shutlingsloe was more visible, the mist lifting further south. Inside in the newly opened gallery space, Ailsa the Poet had laid out the birthday food: tea, coffee, iced biscuits, ginger biscuits, scones and jam, with or without cream… What a delightful way it was to celebrate a quiet but much valued initiative – a scheme for all which involves free books, fresh air and stunning views.
Administration is minimal, and park visitors either delight in returning books to the outdoor book box – or equally, delight in discovering this hidden treasure.
Raise glasses then (specs or drinking vessels!) to the Library in the Landscape: long may she weather the weather and provide the printed word to weary walkers!
As for the boat – well, come back next time to read about blown fuses, front fenders, a brass T-stud – and a boatload of thermal clothing fit for a Summer Cruise…