Writing workshops and short stories will create a deeper understanding of the South Pennines landscape

Posted: 18.06.12

Anna Turner, the writer in residence for the Watershed Landscape project, managed by rural regeneration company Pennine Prospects, has so many ideas for her residency that she may have problems fitting it into one summer. Plans for three workshops are already in the pipeline and she’s also started work on four short stories set in key locations in the South Pennines.

“This residency is a fantastic opportunity for me as I’m a keen walker and runner, with a lively Collie, and I therefore spend a lot of time out in the landscape. This brings together so many things that I love,” said Anna, who has lived in Hebden Bridge for nine years, with her husband Johnny, and three children Poppy, Izzy and Wilf. Two years ago she ran a marathon with Johnny to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary and the couple plan to walk the Coast to Coast with Wilf this spring.

The writing workshops are in the planning stage at the moment, as Anna explained: “Initially I’m hoping to take a group of adults with learning difficulties up to Cant Clough Reservoir, above Burnley. I’d like to record their responses to the landscape so we can create electronic postcards.

“For the second workshop I’m planning to run an early morning walk during the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival on Saturday, July 7. The walk will finish at Gibson Mill, in Hardcastle Crags, where we can then record our emotional responses through a writing workshop. Places are always so different in the early morning, when you hardly see anyone else but instead you can spot wildlife, such as deer and rabbits. We will be running a similar workshop for families in the afternoon.

“And finally footsteps will be my inspiration for a workshop to take place during the Walk and Ride Festival in September. Through this workshop I hope we can examine the way in which we make temporary footsteps in the landscape, either in the mud or snow, or more permanent markings by walking the same path over many years.”

The early morning workshop, incorporating a three to four mile walk followed by breakfast, will take place between 7.30am and noon, on Saturday, July 7, starting from Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags. Places cost £10 and include breakfast. Booking, which is essential, can be made by phone on 01422 842684 or online at www.hbaf.co.uk. Later in the day families are invited to create their own version of an alternative walking guide in a free family friendly walk, of approximately one mile. Maps and instructions can be collected from Anna between 2pm and 4pm from Gibson Mill. Booking is not necessary.

Anna also plans to write a daily blog during the two week festival. And as all this planning continues she has already started work on the four short stories based in the South Pennines.

“I’ve chosen Standedge Tunnel, at Marsden; Cant Clough Reservoir; Blackstone Edge, above Littleborough; and Ogden Moor, as the locations for my fictional stories as these all demonstrate the juxtaposition of the wild moorlands and man-made elements, either as remnants of the industrial revolution or as part of our modern-day power system,” explained Anna.

Standedge Tunnel, the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in the UK, is the site of the first short story, although Anna admitted to her fear of travelling through it in the traditional manner: legging, in which a narrow boat would be propelled through the 3.25 mile tunnel by men with their feet against the tunnel walls and ceiling.

The combination of the man-made sheddings, created by limestone quarrying and the wildness of the moorland makes Cant Clough Reservoir an ideal location to examine the combination of natural and man-made; as does the line of pylons that runs across the moors at Blackstone Edge, where the Pennine Way winds its way from the M62 to Stoodley Pike, above Todmorden. And the power theme continues with Anna’s choice of the windmills on Ogden Moor, high above Ogden Reservoir, as her fourth location. The stories will be published in electronic and printed versions.

Anna teachers fiction writing for the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) and had her first novel, Falling Through Clouds, published under her maiden name, Chilvers, in 2010.

The Watershed Landscape project, managed by Pennine Prospects and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and South Pennines LEADER, aims to enhance and protect the important ecological and heritage features of the landscape for the benefit of future generations and celebrates the uplands as a place of inspiration for all to enjoy.

For further information please contact: Anna Carter at Anna.Carter@pennineprospects.co.uk or on 07582 101321.

Photograph: Anna Turner in the South Pennines

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust