I love the Valley of the Rocks. It is majestic, with its cliffs confidently towering above the sea. At the same time it has an intimacy with its natural amphitheatre and crevasses inviting visitors and pilgrims to sit and gaze. There is no logic in the rock formations unless the logic is that there is no logic. The hills tumble into the sea which, through stealth and persistence, is claiming back what formerly belonged to it. The tide ebbs and flows. A lonely boat obeys the waves that hold it. Feral goats, long-term residents of the Valley, hang precariously and inaccessibly from the rocks, surprising walkers along the narrow cliff path. The sun moves across the landscape creating its shadows. And the world moves around it.
The Valley of the Rocks is a place of inspiration and invitation. The recently formed Pleasure Dome Theatre Company adds energy and imagination to the place with plays in the amphitheatre. It is a stunning location with the sound and sight of the evening sea adding even more drama. It was a joy to watch their adaptation of the novel Lorna Doone, whose author, R.D.Blackmore spent his childhood nearby, fell in love with the area and located his book on Exmoor and in this place.
Eighteenth century Poet Robert Southey describes the Valley as ‘rock reeling upon rock’, while, over one hundred years later poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon, experienced another side of the Valley, which for her was a ‘lone and barren place.’
Courageous rock climbers are drawn to the Valley by another form of inspiration as they struggle to tame the jagged landscape.
Valley of the Rocks: place of majesty and intimacy and loneliness. Gazing at the scene reminds me that everything and everyone has a place in the family of things. The goats bring wealth with their presence and their foraging. The huge sea sustains the lonely boat, keeping it afloat. People, drawn to the Valley, have their souls and bodies exercised and fed. Experiencing drama in the amphitheatre, the sun sinks into the sea leaving behind glimpses of transcendence.
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