Carn Ingli, Mountain of Angels

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Longlisted for the Write about Walking A/way competition 2023


The sheep-tracks were secrets until we were upon them, 
rambling twists of heather and gorse
punctuated with rocks from a scattered fort.

Don’t bear left too soon or you’ll hit the steep bit, 
summit the lower part and walk along
- said Grandad, every year, but we’d still get caught

and end up in jagged loops round the top, 
scrambling back and forth. The sheep would stare. 
At the top of the outcrop we’d survey the horizon

down to the yellow and blue of the bay.
No angels would land but sometimes sent mists 
with exquisite sunlight filtering through.

We would have a picnic and sketch the rocks, 
the leaning grasses framing the sea,
the hut circles and wild horses,

the meandering course of the bay to the estuary 
where Grandad would unlock his binocular case, 
focus the lens and look for herons.

Carn Ingli was a dream of green and purple 
clustering over ancient ruins, and always 
another unravelling path to discover.

One year Mum told us this was where my sister was conceived 
and we both looked at her in horror.
We didn’t fancy picnics there after that

or, in the years that followed, mention the flow
of the estuary where Grandad’s ashes were thrown. 
We’d be silent, staring into middle distance,

while a lamb might skitter up the scree towards us 
or an old ram descend to the bay,
straightening out the secrets of the sheep-tracks,

sweeping the pathways clear.

isabella mead

isabella mead

Isabella Mead is Head of Learning at The Story Museum in Oxford. Her debut pamphlet, Dear Rwanda, was published by Live Canon in 2023. 

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