A Year Around the Hill:

On the first Saturday of the month there will be an exploratory morning for young people (and older ones!) to see how they can discover the way that our hill changes over the year.

Meet at the orchard gate of Knucklas Castle site at 10.30, until 12.00.

For further details, contact Frances: 01588 640 525


January 6th: Waking the Trees: preparing for Wassail/making rattles

February 3rd: Shapes and Shadows: tracing the lines of the castle in the land/drawing and making the hill in clay

March 3rd: Leaping Life: What’s growing? Animal tracks/Preparing the allotment   Broad beans and sweet pea planting

April 7th: Spring in to Blossom: The flowering trees/planting the allotment

May 5th:    Into the greenwood: Celebrating the May blossom, May month and making May crowns/Planting the allotment

June 2nd:  Myth and mystery: Stories old and new, including In the Shadow of Knucklas Castle and making some stories of our own.Preparing for Allotment Day.

July  7th:    Solstice: The year pauses at its height: celebration of the longest day of the year. Allotment work.

August 4thOut of the landscape: the art within: making with stone, clay, pigment.  Allotment work.

September 1st: Pause for thought: Dreaming and planning. Where on the hill is your favourite place to dream?

October 6th:  Harvest Home: 10 (or more!!) things to do with apples/preparation for Apple Day.  Allotment harvest and tidying.

November 3rd: Frost and Fire: CANCELLED! Sorry, but watch for further information.

December 1st: Sleeping Hill: Winter work: Resting the allotment. Hibernating creatures.

January 2018

 On the first Saturday of the year, a small band of us met in high winds and freezing rain and explored the hill, finding some damage from the storms, shards of ice caught in the bracken, and beautiful striped snail shells amongst the ant hills. (We also discovered that there are so many ant hills you could almost jump your way across them to the summit…now there’s a challenge!) It was good to see that the bird boxes, and the trees supporting them, seemed to be undamaged, ready for this year’s nests.

At the top, we found ice in a cauldron and muddy slopes perfect for rolling down. We talked about the way the hill offered such natural protection and would have made vulnerable any marauders attempting an attack on the castle. We could see the threads below connecting us to the larger world: the river, the roads, the railway.

Running back down the hill to keep warm, we found in the orchard cooking apples, eating apples, cider apples, pear trees – and a medlar with some fruits still hanging on the branches. These were the exact colour of the cauldron at the top. We talked about the Wassail coming up, how Wassail is a well-wishing meaning “Be thou whole”, and the noisy procession we’d make to scare away the spirits that might harm this year’s harvest.

A sleeping hill, but we could see lichen, moss, tiny berries down in the grass – a sleeping hill, gradually waking.


…and the rain continues with a bitter edge, but the cauldron at the top of the hill is full of water now, not ice. The Wassail has shaken up the spirits and last week the bird boxes were cleaned and fixed: only one fallen, and a number of nests; one egg (a relic of last year).

There is vivid orange-red fungus on some of the fallen wood, shocking colour amongst all the grey. The slopes are scattered with grey stone, clean and sharp, as if the bones of the hill are emerging. The whitest wool catches your eye, twisted on wire and branches.

We talk about preparations for the family allotment: weeding ready for March planting, getting broad beans and sweet peas started. It is a way of dreaming our way into the growing year. Does Hetty the hen, lone queen of the hill, need a companion – and a hen party? Will we be able to replace the shed?

Our next A Year Around the Hill session is

Sat. 3rd March 10.30 – 12.00