The Annandale Way

Annandale Way Creative Writing Project

The Annandale Way is a pathway which has been constructed for walkers following the River Annan, from its source at the Devil’s Beeftub, to its mouth into the Solway Firth – a total of 54 miles of accessible signposted and gated pathway.

The Annandale Way Creative Writing Project was set up by the Regional Creative Arts team and involved the author Linda Cracknell and various schools whose catchment areas lay along the path of the Annandale Way walk. The idea was that each school would go out and walk along a stretch of the pathway, taking notes on what they saw, felt and heard. Then with help from their teacher and Linda Cracknell pupils would, in a follow up workshop, use what they had learnt to produce pieces of writing and contribute to a poem that encompassed the entire pathway.

Mrs Forrest’s IK English class were the participants from Annan Academy. On a very wet, windy and cold May morning they visited the pathway at Barnkirk Point, Newbie and the area between the Welldale and Newbie. The work below reflects their thoughts and feelings on The Annandale Way.

In September when the walk officially opens work from all the schools involved will be displayed along the route.

 IMG_3460

A map of the river Annan

looks like the branches of a tree and

the steps of the Annandale Way

are like leaves falling towards the ground.

 

                                            Annan to Barnkirk Point by Annan Academy

 We took a walk

on the Annandale Way.

A Christmas tree washed up

under the railway bridge at Annan,

might make the river feel festive, but

the sunken scooter next to it

made it seem to us

a rubbish bin.

 

At Welldale, by the old piers,

it was just us, the wind, the water

and the curlews

where once had been shouting workers,

buoys ringing in the wind,

passengers hauling luggage for the ‘Victoria’,

shrimp boats chugging

and sandstone blocks banged aboard

to sail abroad.

 

At the small stone bridge

over which lines of Cochran’s men once cycled,

we dropped our pencils to race them in the creek,

named the colour of low-tide mud-sludge

khaki or drab,

the merse, a ‘white marsh’,

nodding with cotton grass.

 

We took a walk

on the Annandale Way,

the wet ground rough like sandpaper,

our feet scrunching towards Barnkirk Point.

The water swished

and the wind howled like

a wolf with no meat.

It swayed the hands of trees as if

they were a crowd at a football match.

 

We took a walk

on the Annandale Way.

We smelt the fresh coconut of gorse flower,

rough and prickly to the touch.

We saw the dull skies above the Cumbrian hills

and a polished pattern on a stone

was like a work of art.

 

At Barnkirk Point, the tide was coming in,

pushing the river back upstream

instead of flowing to meet other waters

for the party of the Solway.

Warring waves drew

a spiral pattern on the surface,

rough rippling as if fingers

had been dragged through sand.

‘Let me out!’ the river called to the sea.

 

We watched this battle of the elements,

the deep and dangerous river

desperate for its end,

and we named this meeting place –

first and last on the Annandale Way –

the ‘Devil’s Bath Tub’.

 

When the tide turned,

allowing the Annan to flood the Solway mud,

the river lost itself

un-named, unnoticed, forgotten.

But we knew its waters would, in time,

be sucked skywards

to return as clouds

to the hills of the Devil’s Beef Tub

fifty miles inland.

 

‘You again!’ the hills will say,

as they tear at the clouds, emptying them

so the waters once again

begin their descent and we call them ‘Annan’.

Looking for inspiration

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