Cross Fell- North Pennines

After a walk in the North Pennines, something strange seems to follow, a connection which remains with you for days – an emptiness or longing not unlike the feeling you have when you miss someone you love. The landscape seems to heal your mind, troubles disperse and the mysterious relationship between man and the land brings peace.

Often I’ve been aware of this feeling, none more so than my recent walk over Cross Fell, the highest point in the North Pennines at 2,930 feet, the highest and broadest piece of land in England.

The wilderness seems to filter through your body and you can’t rid the feeling nor wish. I spend days looking at my photographs, transfixed as though something is calling me back. The hold upon you is almost disturbing. Putting my feelings, (which I don’t understand) into words, is very difficult. Val can often be found trying to make sense of feelings and thoughts.

I’m still carrying the views and sounds in my mind, I’m certain if you put your ear to my head you’d hear the Helm Wind. Both inspiration and devotion I’ll never tire of the clouds and shadows racing across the burnt sienna and yellow ochare hills. There are moments when the mist descends its cloak, only for the wind to tear holes through the cloud revealing the nature reserve on one side and the equally stunning Eden Valley to the other.

While walking, we found the source of the great river Tees. A humble, gurgling spring emerging from rocks. Further down the valley the Tees becomes one of the most beautiful rivers in the British Isles with centuries of history along its banks.

Mines also splinter the landscape reminding us how difficult life must have been for people in the past. Loppyside Mine, Swathbeck Mine, Hunter’s Vein Mine are all names which sit between the contours of the map.

If any of you reading this feel a similar connection with a landscape I’d be interested in hearing from you.


22 Replies to “Cross Fell- North Pennines”

  1. When I go to the beach and just take my time to take it all it, which is every time I go, and often at that. I seem to forget all of life’s issues. I get a sense of peace as I look across the vast sea, where is meets the clouds. Clouds that build up in a far distance that, maybe, I don’t know, stirring the ocean. But it’s just peaceful. I take my eyes off the sea and stare at the shoreline. The sometimes gentle ripples that do nothing less than make me wonder how they know to stop there, and not consume the entire land (God’s borders). And of course to bring me even more Aw, it the stirred up sea with it’s large crashing waves, yet still, they seem to stop before they time, as though those crashers have been told, “You can crash this far, and not more.” Who knows, who cares. It just is and it is so beautiful, peaceful and relaxing. After a day enjoying my visit with the sea. I sleep like a baby, and dream of going back for more.

    Keith, you tell a wonderful story with all of your artworks, but this story of yours hit home the most with me of all of them so far. I hope you can relate to my shared story.

    Your painting is wonderful. I love the way you draw people.

    Deb xx

  2. Thanks Debbie, I really enjoyed reading your response on the ocean. I like your term ‘God’s Borders’ You describe a feeling very similar to my own and I can relate to much of what you say. Isolation also makes you more aware of your surroundings. I remember you once painted a watercolour of a lonely figure on a beach. It stuck in my mind. Thanks again for taking the time to reply. I’d love to learn more about the island you stay on.

    1. It’s a strech of land 25 miles off shore from the mainland. It has 7 villages, “Cape Hatteras, Frisco, Buxton, Avon, Waves, Rodanthe, and Nags Head.”
      Nags Head is the larger populated of the seven, where the others are small and quaint, with each being a bit different from the other. Buxton, and Frisco offer the most beach driving and it a lovely place to fish if one likes to fish offshore, as my husband adores. He can just drive right up to the shoreline with all of his gear. The beaches of these area are very private, or at least one gets the feeling of such, being that there are not many people around, except during the summer peak season. And still there is much beach to go around to feel as though no one is around but self.
      The environment of the other side of the dunes now would be right up your alley with all the of nature to be explored and creatures to adore, and the deer are a plenty which I find odd, but there are many, many here.
      You can find more information of the area by Googling “Cape Hatteras Island” in North Carolina as well as checking out the images of the area once Googled. (top right corner of your page).

      My husband is out fishing now as I type and I will be in today to possibly draw or paint something.


  3. I now have a geographical fix on the islands. I found a stunning picture of Hatteras Island on google with cars parked on the end of what looks like a sand bar with racing tides on either side. Not so strange to see many familiar place names on the mainland, Richmond twenty miles from where I live and Norfolk which is very flat. I’m thinking this area is flat too? I wonder what specious of deer you have? The fishing sounds great, is that from the beach or a boat? Sorry, still more questions. I also read it’s good fun for kite flying, this also sounds right up my street. Looks to be a beautiful part of the world. Do you have a holiday home there? Love the lighthouse stripes.

    1. You can fish right from the beach as my husband does. We just drive right on up to a beach spot we like, park, set up our chairs and umbrella. I read…sometimes. and he fishes. I fish once in a while too if the biting is good. And of course you can fish from a boat if one has one.

      Kite flying, oh yes! It’s the perfect place for it. Breezy, wide open, with the beach at your side and the dunes on the other.

      Ask me anything else you can think of and I will do my best to answer it for you.


  4. Hi Keith,

    The left brain right brain theory is credited to the 1981 Nobel prize winner, Roger Sperry on split-brain research. He noticed the two sides of our brains serve different functions.

    Our Left Brain is your verbal and logical brain. It thinks sequentially and breaks it down to numbers and words. It’s the analytical, objective side.

    Our Right Brain is the non-verbal and intuitive part of your brain. It thinks in pictures or patterns and doesn’t understand “breaking down” to numbers and words. It’s the subjective and holistic side.

    In essence, the ‘left brain’ is logical, rational using words to describe concepts and able to manipulate abstract ideas, numbers and the concept of time. The right brain, in contrast, takes a wholistic approach, sensing relationships and patterns, tends to be intuitive and irrational, and has no sense of time.

    I think your Right side brain enjoyed it !
    cheers Danny

    1. Your right of course, I seldom use the analytical side. Working in the creative services for nearly thirty years hasn’t helped. A few years ago I re-sat my maths at a local college, I passed but it was hell. Thanks for the link Danny.

  5. Whenever I take walks like that, I find I spend most of my time concentrating on not standing in something natures beasty’s have left behind.. lol.. I jest.. It sure is great to get out there and really connect with nature isn’t it.. Great sketch to Keith..

  6. It’s hard to even tell what the landscape is where I am. I can tell you about buildings, streets and subway lines, but not about hills or dales. I envy you sometimes. Lovely sketch. It’s raining here today too, but instead of ducking under rocks, I would stand in a building doorway or go into a store.


    1. Good to see you Carol. There’s a lot to be said for ducking into shops. We live in a small village half way down a hill, I often try and think of the shape of the village without the buildings. At the top of the hill there’s a Saxon graveyard where no buildings were ever built, I think it extends down our hill too. Did I go off subject?- sorry, I do that a lot these days. Thanks again for visiting.

  7. Hi Keith. I think humans need to be part of their landscape, although most don’t allow the intensity of the relationship to surround them. In my opinion, that is a loss. I read somewhere that people need ‘fractals’, repeating patterns such as those found in snowflakes, waterways, the dendritic patterns of trees and so on, to keep their brains healthy. All I know is when I am in certain places, no past or future matters, only the present time and the ability to ‘be present’. One of those places was overlooking the deeply eroded waterways in the valleys of the Dakota Badlands. Jane

    1. Strange to think the landscape watches us all come and go. We play our part yet change very little. You sound very much like me and I enjoyed reading your reply as much as writing my own post. I’m interested in learning more on fractals and the Dakota Badlands, so I’m off for a google.

  8. Keith, Again I find your art and words engrossing. They are quite beautiful. I hear the lusty wind and can imagine the view but I’m sure is much more spectacular in person.

  9. I am always in awe as to how you capture people and bring them to life. As far as having a connection with nature, I think you know that I feel so slimilarly, but like you I find putting it into words very difficult. Although, I think you express yourself beautifully. I take pictures to express the connection. When I look at the pictures they bring me back to the moment. However there are many moments that are captured only in my memory and I relive them often.

    1. Amber, we both share the simple aspects of our landscape, tiny flowers and rock pools. Your pictures capture a moment that tell a story, that’s what I search for in my sketches of people, creating empty spaces for the conversation. Those moments we capture in our mind are often those we remember the most. I’m lucky to have so many like minded people reading my posts. Thanks once again.

  10. I’ve been in places that have left me feeling like that, Keith, but curiously the one that has that effect most often is where I live. This place ‘called’ to me, I believe, possibly for some years before we ever found it. I believe that. I know it sounds daft, but I believe that.

    Thanks for the mention… I’ve been thinking about you. Curious, isn’t it?

  11. You’re so lucky to have found that ‘special place’ and make it your home. If my wife would agree, I’d move tomorrow into one of the old farms below Cross Fell. I do connect with your posts and the things you write, kindred spirits of a sort. Good to have your comments-made my day.

  12. Reading this post is reminding me even more that I haven’t been to the mountains (in other words somewhere more wild like you’re describing) for ages & I’m determined to go next week-end I hope. I think it’s hard to describe what the draw is , it’s complicated. For me maybe it’s getting away from the mundane, escaping constant noise stimulus, that uplifting feeling of being up high looking out over large expanses, the vastness of the sky, the call of birds, the wind in the trees, a sense that this is life & it’s real & happening. Then ithe memory helps keep me sane (I hope!) during the week. Will come back yo look at your other posts but no time for now! (another thing that wild places are good for is the sense of timelessness that’s constantly removed in daily life!)

    1. Interesting how many of us feel the same connection. I agree with ‘escaping constant noise’ and how the memory keeps us sane. I imagine
      you must have some beautiful walking areas and vistas, from your paintings it looks to be a very lovely part of the world.

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