26 October, 2011

Locations: Edale, Derbyshire

On the far side another blind valley bit into the hills, and beyond it the fitful moon gleamed on a line of dark cliffs crowned by rocky teeth.
“That’s Kyndyr!” Lilla exclaimed. “Luned says there’s no way over it!”
Severa laughed, as clear and buoyant as the skylark’s song. “There is if you’re with me! That valley is Combe’s hafod, and I spent seven summers retrieving stray sheep from Kyndyr.”
“… a lung-bursting climb up an ever-steepening rocky valley that pierced the hillside like a sword slash…”
--Paths of Exile, chapter 14

“another blind valley bit into the hills”
View over the Edale valley from the south

Larger version of same photograph

This photograph was taken from the middle of the ridge that forms the southern rim of the Edale valley, and you can see how the uplands form a ring around the head of the valley, enclosing it. You can also see this from the contours in the topographical map link. There’s a road into Edale at the mouth of the valley in the east, but the only way out of the head of the valley is over the hills.

“a line of dark cliffs...”
Close-up of one of the gritstone edges overlooking Edale

“...crowned by rocky teeth”
Close-up view of one of the tors

“...retrieving stray sheep from Kyndyr”
Lamb perched on a ledge halfway up a tor on Kinder Scout, bleating piteously for someone to come and help it down.
(Yes, it did get down safely. After ten minutes or so the mother ewe arrived, they bleated back and forth a few times, and then the mother showed the lamb how to jump across to another ledge and then down to safety, probably the way it got up there in the first place).

“an ever-steepening rocky valley”
The upper part of Grindsbrook Clough. ‘Clough’ is used in Northern England for a steep or narrow upland valley. This is the route taken by the fugitive party in Paths of Exile as they climb out of Edale and onto Kinder Scout.

‘Combe’ in Paths of Exile is modern Hope (see map link at end of post). Hope is derived from Old English ‘hop’, meaning a small enclosed valley, particularly one that overhangs the main valley. In the early seventh century as imagined in Paths of Exile, the language spoken in upland Derbyshire is Brittonic (an ancestor of modern Welsh and Breton). So I translated the Old English ‘hop’ into its approximate Brittonic equivalent, ‘combe’ (spelled ‘coomb’ in Cumbria), also meaning a small upland valley.

‘Kyndyr’ is Kinder Scout. See earlier posts for pictures of the Kinder Scout plateau and some of its gritstone tors.

‘Combe’s hafod’ in Paths of Exile is modern Edale (see map link), the valley immediately south of Kinder Scout and separated from the Hope valley by the long upland ridge of Mam Tor and Lose Hill. Several of the hamlets in Edale have the name ‘Booth’, a Norse word meaning temporary shelter (related to modern Scottish ‘bothy’). I have imagined that Edale in the seventh century was used by the inhabitants of Hope for summer grazing in the valley and on the slopes of the surrounding hills. ‘Hafod’ is a Welsh term meaning something like ‘summer farm’, roughly equivalent to the Norwegian ‘saeter’ or Scottish shieling.

Map links
Scroll around to see how Hope and Edale relate to each other


Rick said...

The tor with the (happily-temporarily) stranded lamb REALLY looks like a troll's head! There should be a bridge nearby.

The valley slopes in the first image look deceptively gentle ... but I can't really judge the scale, and none of the cliffs appear in that image.

Kathryn Warner said...

Gorgeous pics, Carla! It's many years since I was last in Edale, so it's lovely to see it again.

Carla said...

Kathryn - thank you. I like the Edale / Hope Valley area very much.

Rick - how fascinating! I don't see a troll's head in the tor with the stranded sheep. Any chance of a clue?
The contours in the topographical maps will give you a better idea of the slope angles and relative heights. We aren't talking Alpine cirques with 1000m of vertical rock face in the headwall :-) The photo is a wide angle to try and get most of the valley in. The skyline on the horizon is probably around two or three miles or so from where I'm standing with the camera, and the plateau is about 1200 feet or so above the valley floor, if that is any help. You can pick out the change in vegetation above the intake walls from bright green improved grassland in fields in the valley bottom to rough dun-coloured moorland above - towards the right-hand side of the photo the change coincides roughly with the line of the cloud shadow.

The edges and tors are a narrow band along the edge of the plateau, for the most part just below the skyline (see the crag markings on the topographical map) and in the photo they've faded into the background. In some light conditions they show up better.

Rick said...

Admitting that I don't really know what a troll's head looks like :-) ... but the sheep is on his nose, and his forehead is rather anvil shaped.

Regarding the valley, I think there's an interesting scale question when you have only this image to go by. I think those 'hedges' are quite a bit bigger than I first took them to be - more trees than bushes? Looking carefully, the buildings do seem to be really tiny (or would be, if my initial impression of scale were right.

So the valley is perhaps roughly 3x larger than I first imagined. The topo maps would at first glance reinforce my distortion, since I'm accustomed to elevations in feet, not meters.

Also, looking carefully I think I can just make out some of the edge cliffs. All in all a rather challenging climb!

Carla said...

In the absence of a type specimen, your guess is as good as anyone's :-)
Someone else saw your comment and told me the sheep was at about eye level (the troll having very deep-set eyes under beetling brows) and had an Elvis-style quiff, which I guess corresponds to the 'anvil-shaped' forehead. I leave the thought of a troll with an Elvis quiff to your imagination..... Which just illustrates how the tors can be seen as all manner of strange things, depending on the observer

I used to think in miles and feet, but I've now more or less switched to km and metres as topo maps have become metric. It's tricky to shift from one to the other! The spot heights and contours on the map are in metres, and the blue gridlines indicate 1 km squares (the Streetmap site also puts a scale in the corner). Yes, the hedges are more on the lines of rows of trees, and the buildings are mostly sizeable farmhouse/barn/outbuilding complexes. Maybe I should set the picture size to be bigger (these are rather smaller than I intended, so I probably got a setting wrong somewhere) and add some comment about scale in the captions.

Rick said...

Someone else saw your comment and told me the sheep was at about eye level (the troll having very deep-set eyes under beetling brows) and had an Elvis-style quiff, which I guess corresponds to the 'anvil-shaped' forehead.

Whoever remarked on my comment interprets the tor exactly as I do - deep-set eyes and beetling brows - though it would not have occurred to me make a comparison to Elvis. But I can see why they made the comparison!

I'd love to see the valley picture enlarged more, if you have a bigger source image. Though I don't know whether anyone else had the same mis-impression that I did. Someone actually standing where you took the picture would be unlikely to have any confusion about the scale.

Carla said...

I can sort of see the troll now if I look hard enough, now that you and someone else have both pointed it out to me, but it still wouldn't be the first thing that occurred to me. Curious that different people see different things!

I've added a larger version of the valley photo - let me know if it helps. I always have trouble capturing landscape scale in photographs; I'm not sure if this is because the human eye/brain really does register scale and depth and distance differently from a camera (which after all just decides what colour to make each pixel), or if it's because my photography skills are limited :-)

Gabriele C. said...

Capturing landscape scale in photographs is a b**ch. I have the same problem that steep hillsides come out as gentle slopes in pics, and trneches never really look as difficult to cross than they do in reality.

Carla said...

I'm glad it's not just me :-) I reckon the human brain does some post-processing to give a sense of scale and distance, and cameras don't.