Location

In writing these notes I’m respecting everybody’s privacy and inventing names for people & places. We live in England’s least populated county, around 600′ above sea level, off a C road halfway between a large village and a forestry hamlet, lodged between sweeps of hard rock ridges and many tributary valleys. The main wide river valley has a B road winding through it north over moors towards the border, south to our nearest market town and the A road running east west between motorways either side of the north Pennines. Our stone built house has ‘good standing’, dates from 1878, and was originally a shepherds cottage along with adjoining barns, shippen, piggery & lean to. The whole property was upgraded & converted to one complete dwelling with added double garage/outhouse and an acre of yards & gardens at the turn of this century. A quarter of a mile along the road south of us lies the farm to which the cottage was originally attached. (‘Southridge Farm’) To the south-west an even older agricultural holding centered around the ruins of a fortified dwelling house, which I will call ‘Bastle Farm’. To the east another working farm with converted buildings let as accommodation which I’ll call ‘East Farm’. We have 5 acres of rough grazing running from the back garden fence, encircling crags and dropping steeply to fen & carr. Our northern boundary there is with another holding which – unsurprisingly – I’ll dub ‘North Farm’. The farm itself is tucked away amongst firs in the steep valley on the other side of the twisting burn. This side of the drop is the much older original farmstead, now a handsome private house, orchard & new woodland which I’ll call ‘Oldstead’. It’s approx half a mile distant and, like us, lies on a popular long distance footpath. Apart from a few distant farms and isolated dwellings our uninterrupted view is one over undulating fields & fellside, forest & woods beneath a vast & ever changing sky, stretching for miles.

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