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Thursday, 2 November 2017

Dorset: Kenneth Allsop, from In the Country, November

From November, In the Country, Kenneth Allsop, 1972:

“…I am happiest here in the intricate and moody countryside of South Wessex. There is nowhere like it, this one hundred square miles bounded on one side by the Great Heath – Hardy’s ‘haggard waste of Egdon’ and on the other by the Great Marsh.
      Crushed between are terminating rock seams from east and north, colliding in a mad pile-up. There is a tumbled anarchy of hills, contracted Pyrenees: long hogbacks of chalk, sheer limestone scarps, billows of down, knaps and knolls and batches, and high conelets of sandstone like emerald plum puddings…Take two steps in any direction and your surroundings are rearranged like the painted scenery of a toy theatre.
      It is a geological madhouse. A new hummock inflates before your eyes; an unsuspected valley has unfolded. It is easy to feel disorientated. It is also, if you enjoy it, easy to allow yourself to be lost.
      Old green-roads and droveways and tangled tracks wind into mysterious furzy coombs where on a summer afternoon you hear nothing but the bees and the wail of a soaring buzzard, and in winter perhaps the bubbling trill of curlews flighting down to the estuary saltings”.

Kenneth Allsop (1920-1973) spent his West Dorset weekends at Milton Mill, West Milton. He moved there in 1970, three years before his death. He is buried in Powerstock.

His writing and environmentalistic journalism, praised by many, was not always appreciated by local people. He was sometimes seen as an interfering incomer. Judge for yourself:

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