Coincidentally, the very next day I was myself looking into grykes on the limestone pavement at Malham Cove. We had the place almost to ourselves in the early evening as the sun cast long shadows (see my photograph below). It’s true that there are miniature worlds in these fissures, although you can’t help noticing the odd bottle or sweet wrapper too.
Limestone pavement, Malham Cove
Back in Skipton I discussed with my friend who the ideal poet of limestone landscapes would be and he suggested Auden, thinking of ‘In Praise of Limestone’ (1948) which talks about ‘the one landscape that we, the inconstant ones, are consistently homesick for.’ Peter Davidson, in his book The Idea of North starts his list of features that make up the Audenesque landscape: ‘Limestone moors, high fields enclosed by stone walls, lonely pubs, upland farms, isolated junction stations...’ The poet Blake Morrison, reminiscing about his childhood, has written of Malham Cove and the Dales: ‘What I love is the dry stone walls, the sheep, the limestone that inspired WH Auden's poems. It's not a straightforward love. I've made my life elsewhere, but the Dales will always be the source of my imagination.’