Reflections on a year gone and a year to come

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Posted on January 11, 2016


Having seen another year draw to a close, the days are now beginning to pad their edges with a few more minutes of light – though you might not sense it beneath the clouds. It has been a dreary few months. But, as we head into 2016 and look forward to more light, we thought we’d reflect on what has gone by in 2015.

The month of December was dominated by floods in Scotland and the north of England, somewhat ironically timed in the wake of the COP21 climate talks in Paris. And then there was a U-turn by the British government suggesting that fracking might be allowed to go ahead in national parks. As ever, there are concerning issues relating to the environment. And our minds always turned towards these.

At the same time, though, there is the smaller and more personal, immediate experience of the world at our feet. We did this as much as we could in 2015 – from the wild flower meadows in High Borrowdale in Cumbria, to the high salt deserts of Atacama in Bolivia. I had thought of reviewing what’s happened in the year but it begins to sound like a laboured Christmas letter, so instead, here are a few links to blogs that capture some of the interesting bits:

Wandering words – sheep carrying poems into the Lake District fells    

Among the meadow flowers   

Blinded by the light in Bolivia   

With the Kazakhstan horses

Poetry on rosettes for Patterdale show     

Becoming a Millican Maverick   


In amongst these highlights we gave presentations at Keswick Mountain Festival, Keswick Mountain Festival and the Mountain Heritage Festival at Rheged in Penrith; Harriet presented her kinetic poetry work at Glasgow’s Ecocultures conference, and Rob led the photography panel at the Explore Conference at RGS (with IBG) in London and talked in Milton Keynes as part of a fundraiser following the earthquake in Nepal.

A lot of our time in 2015 has been spent planning for our next big project, The Long View: meetings with fairly ordinary trees in extraordinary locations. We are very excited to have the support of organisations who'll be helping us learn more about trees and their environment, as well as enthusiasm from farmers who work the land where the trees are. We have a year of walking ahead of us as well as public events at seven stunningly located trees in the Lake District and will be getting involved with trees in cities as well. Watch out for The Long View website, which will be live before the end of January.


Tempting as it sounds to spend all our time with trees, that won’t be the case. Harriet will be completing her MPhil, bringing together a book of prose and poems reflecting her time alongside farmers in the Lake District, and will be releasing a book of Meadow Poetry this spring, based on her summer in High Borrowdale meadow. Our ideas are always bubbling and other projects continue, including one that gives us a chance to mix photography and poetry with science: we are working alongside a team conducting environmental research through The Internet of Things in the Wild. This will take us off to the Conwy Valley as we learn more about the relationship between soil, rainfall and rivers, the part that sheep play in pollution, and the impact of water quality on the mussel fishermen at the mouth of the Conwy.

So we’re heading into 2016 with the prospect of a lot of walking, many opportunities to learn, plenty more poetry and photography, and a lot of time with seven wonderful trees. We’re feeling very excited to be doing so, and will share what comes our way as we go along.

One final thing: we have just launched this new website, which we love. Huge thanks to the team at SCK in Kendal. The only downside is that by taking on a new blog platform we have lost the history of comments on previous blogs, but it easy to have your say so if you want to share your thoughts do join the conversation. If you were already following our blogs, you’ll need to subscribe again. Just click the button.

Thank you for reading, and we look forward to having you along in 2016.

Rob and Harriet


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