Standing on Dunkery

Any hill will do
They all are sacred, but
Dunkery at twilight
As mist seeps up from
Purple heather
Horizons broaden out
And valleys settle into shadow

Sheep bleat, asking for their land back
But we walk the broad path
To a scattered mound of stone
Skirting nervous wild ponies
As the sun paints them golden

Ponies never ask, it is always theirs
As it belonged to the mound builders
Five thousand years ago
As it belongs
And doesn’t belong
To us all
But especially tonight
To me and mine

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond


Written in response to this weeks EarthWeal challenge “Sacred Landscapes“. Exmoor is very special and it’s highest point, Dunkery Beacon, even more so.

28 thoughts on “Standing on Dunkery

  1. As it belongs
    And doesn’t belong
    To us all

    That’s the key line for me – that’s the sign of a sacred place – it belongs to everybody, and yet transcends that.

    I’ve just looked it up and I’m 40 miles from Dunkery Beacon. We tend to head south to Dartmoor, but I’m going to add this to my list of places to explore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you Read Ring the Hill by Tom Cox? He would love this poem, as I do. Hills are definitely sacred. I love the way Dunkery rises in the first lines, through the mist and heather, the bleating sheep and skittering ponies. I especially enjoyed going back in time to the mound builders.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Any hill will do
    They all are sacred” took me to hills in my life, and mountains, too. Then as I read the specifics of your wild populated un-owned hill, I imagined mine at other times and places. Like the seashore, fenced and “no-trespass” hills must still dream of being sacred for all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dunkery is owned and managed as a nature reserve by the National Trust — so has open access. Although you can walk over much of Exmoor on public footpaths
      Elsewhere in England, you can walk to most hill summits if you use public footpaths, thanks to large demonstrations in the 1930s. I’m very grateful for that!

      Liked by 1 person

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