Return To Mardale – Jonathan Humble

Return To Mardale

Confused, she stands at water’s edge;
a shadow, lost by this unfamiliar lake.
She wonders why the bells are silent.
No church, no school, yet still she listens
for well loved songs and laughter.

An eagle soars, commands ancient heights,
the realms of Harter Fell below his wings.
Her thoughts rise too, catching thermals,
heart leaping over High Raise climbs.

Old Chapel Hill and Bridge return below,
with Dun Bull Inn; dark snug and warm hearth.
Stone cottages now evoked in thoughts
once buried in Westmorland’s fairest valley,
before the flood, before the tears.

Over rutted track, a farmer’s cart rattles,
decked in ribbon, known faces smiling back,
with the echo of a lover’s voice in the air,
as Whitsun bells peel to call the dead.

Confusion gone, she enters Haweswater.
Now content to fade, as under trees in full leaf,
she walks a submerged path in a drowned village.
And singing songs, she meets again with friends
who once had lived in Mardale Green.


Note: Where today you’d find Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District, there was once the village of Mardale Green. Back in the 1920s, an Act of Parliament was passed allowing Manchester Corporation to build the reservoir to supply water for the urban areas of the north-west of England. Buildings in the Mardale valley were demolished, families were relocated and by 1935 the new reservoir was established. Occasionally, in periods of drought, the old dry stone walls and bridge make a ghostly reappearance, only to be submerged once water levels rise again. 

Jonathan Humble is a teacher in Cumbria. He writes poetry and short stories. His stuff can be found in a number of different publications and on his poetry blogs ( and ).


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