|In Baldersdale. Low Birk Hatt Farm is in the bottom centre|
We walked in Baldersdale this morning. It is accessed by two narrow roads that run either side of the reservoirs - Blackden Reservoir and Hury Reservoir. At the end of the valley both roads peter out, giving way to the wild moors that reach over to Cumberland. It is the roof of England.
This was the landscape of Hannah Hauxwell's first sixty years. She hardly left it. After all, she had no vehicles and she had no money. She lived in dire poverty at Low Birk Hatt Farm, unable to cope with the demands of making her inherited farm profitable. As she said herself, she was more of a dreamer than a farmer. But she never complained. Happiness and optimism shone from her like heavenly light. She knew very little about the outside world. To her Baldersdale was everything.
If you do not know who I am talking about, I blogged about Hannah Hauxwell last October. Go here.
|Low Birk Hatt Farm today|
Reading her story made me want to visit Baldersdale. When she was in her early seventies, Hannah left the only home she had ever known and went to live in the nearby village of Cotherstone. Low Birk Hatt Farm was sold to a doctor and his family. They modernised it and perhaps they remain its inhabitants today. I heard a man coughing like a coal miner, clearing his lungs but I didn't see him.
Close to the farm there are two meadows that Hannah Hauxwell never treated with herbicides or pesticides. They were purchased by The Durham Wildlife Trust and have been left in a pristine state for posterity. Butterflies and other insects flutter amongst the wild grasses and meadow plants. In her honour the fields are now called "Hannah's Meadow" which is a lovely way of remembering her.
|Insect life and thistle plant in Hannah's Meadow|
|The house in Cotherstone where Hannah Hauxwell lived for seventeen years.|