Sample Writings

W#1 and 2/214: Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle


This is one of a series of draft writings which collectively form part of the ‘Handrail’ which guides readers through Jonathan Pitches’  forthcoming monograph: Performing Landscapes; Mountains. They comprise a series of short, allusive pieces of writing describing a collective attempt to complete all 214 of the Wainwrights in the Lake District in a dozen years. As a starting point it draws on Tim Ingold’s writing about walking as an intelligent activity (2011), placing centre stage the value of alternative intelligences when describing mountain landscapes, recognising, as Ingold argues, that: “cognition should not be set off from locomotion, along the lines of the division between head and heels, since walking is itself a form of circumambulatory knowing” (2011: 46). This first piece is: Beginnings. 


Mountain Rituals

All over the world, high above us, specialised acts are taking place, acts which are embedded in
their local environments, rooted in their regional histories and transformative for their participants. These special acts take many forms – one off pilgrimages, feats of endurance, annual remembrances, personal memorials, animal sacrifices  –  but they contribute to (and are provoked by) the characteristic features of mountainscapes: remoteness, danger, prominence, sacredness, local devotion. How might we make sense of the phenomena of mountain rituals?  What is their place in mountain culture? Continue with Mountain Rituals