Monday, 7 March 2011

Maize Beck: IV

Upland rivers have a life a vibrancy that fills me with joy. They are young and reckless, capable of acts of destruction and acts that create the most beautiful places. In these hidden valleys where few people visit there are pools of water that are known only to the dipper and the otter. A dipper has been my companion for the last mile, flying back and forth, its white throat flashing in the grey of the day, a small black bullet skimming the surface of the beck. The water runs quickly now, anxious to get to the bottom of the valley. From its source in the bogs to the west to its confluence with the Tees the Maize Beck drops over 200 metres in something a little over 10 kilometres, not a particularly steep drop but one that keeps the water running fresh and fast.
Now the beck seems to be a series of small falls, one following the other as the water flows between square boulders, around rocks and slabs that have taken a strange orange-brown colour, as if stained by the peaty waters. Here it is possible to cross backwards and forwards from one side to the other at will. The rocks are smooth and flat, wide surfaces that make perfect steps. The water flows beneath me as I walk from side to side, feeling the pull of the landscapes, flowing with the water downwards towards the valley bottom.

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