I've just arrived back to Gateshead from walking through the Hen Hole in the Cheviot region of the Northumberland National Park.  It was a fresh, crisp and windy day but the sun was out shining beautifully.  

The Hen Hole at one point was also known as Hell Hole.  This area was, according to the Border Ballad Black Adam of Cheviot, the home of the rider of Cheviot  - Black Adam.  There are also many stories about faeries beckoning in people to the Hen Hole.  These people have never returned from the Hen Hole.  Unfortunately for one of my walking guides, her ring was lost whilst climbing through the Hen Hole.  Could the ring have been stolen by one of these faeries?   

Once we reached the top of the hill I was able to look down onto the Hen Hole.  The wind nearly blew me from my feet - it was the closest feeling I have ever had to being a bird. I really am very jealous that the Ravens can fly over the Cheviots and enjoy sights like this from the air!

So far I have some melodic lines brewing in my head.  These will take shape and I'll arrange parts for the group of musicians gradually.  I also want to incorporate into the first section of the music, one of the Border Ballads - Black Adam of Cheviot.   This will hopefully be read by the wonderful John Nichol (http://www.johnnichol.co.uk/) who is based in the Scottish Borders.  He will be reading an edited version of the ballad to which I will set an atmospheric piece of music.



AuthorShona Mooney

Sensing the Park

Today I visited the Whin Sill, Moss Peteral and Thirwall castle which are all within the Hadrian's Wall area of the park. Myself and Georgia began by climbing up to the top of the Whin Sill. Wow - it took my breath away, quite literally! This past week I haven't been doing much exercise (touring around Germany in a van with The Shee) and the hike to the top was invigorating, challenging but incredibly satisfying once I had reached the top to admire the view. The wind was howling and the clouds looked ominous, grey and heavy. We decided it would be best to climb back down before the rain set in.

Later in the day we were joined by one of the Rangers of the park. Together we drove up to a farm called Moss Peteral. I was greeted by a big flock of turkeys which were presumably being fattened-up for Christmas dinners. As we walked through the farming field, past a flock of sheep, I began to see a soft orange coloured carpet. I was told this was a blanket bog, sometimes referred to as a mire. I could see patches of black around the edge that looked like black butter. This was of course peat and it is incredibly ancient. I was amazed when I was told that we know what the environment was like millions of years ago through sampling peat deep down into the bog. The park has found ancient birch trees in the peat which means that these trees were living at one point in the area.

I will be taking a walk up to the Henhole on Friday, so stay tuned for some more ramblings about my rambles in the park!


AuthorShona Mooney

A few months ago I was commissioned by the Northumbrian Exchanges project to start writing a new piece of music for the Northumberland National Park.  My brief is to capture a sense of place by evoking the inspiring natural beauty, history and cultural heritage of the region.  I am really delighted to have the chance to write some new music again.

The piece will be around 30-40min piece focusing on the four distinct areas of the NNP.  The sections comprise: Cheviot; Coquetdale; North Tyne & Redesdale; and Hadrian's Wall. It will be scored for a small group music graduates from ICMus at Newcastle University.

Paul Knox - Northumbrian pipes and fiddle

Shona Mooney - fiddle

Amy Thatcher - piano accordion and clogs

David de la Haye - electric bass and live sound effects

Andy Watt - acoustic guitar and mandolin


AuthorShona Mooney