Land of Singing Waters - A Walking, Music and Folklore Residential in Northumberland
Upcoming Dates - Monday 16th to Friday 20th October 2023 at Dunstan Hall near Craster
Land of singing waters
Winds from off the sea
God bring me to Northumberland
The land where I would be
from 'Northumberland' by W W Gibson
The vision for Land of Singing Waters residential
For many years we have been aware of a special magic that appears when we walk through the land with our senses open to music. There is a confluence where the music and the walking meet and we find that the songs open themselves up in new ways and we somehow belong with them more. The land too sometimes opens as we walk and imparts belonging mysteriously. Sometimes we can offer songs to the land like a gift as we travel through the places where songs and stories are born.
We find this meeting of the currents of walking, music, story and folklore very inspiring and for a long time we have dreamed of bringing together people who also love these things and sharing such experiences. This is the heart of our vision for the 'Land of Singing Waters' residential and we would love to invite you to join us.
We will be gathering for four nights in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from Monday 16th to Friday 20th October at a place called Dunstan Hall near Craster which dates back to the 11th century and is full of history. Whilst there we will be spending time together walking in some of the beautiful landscapes of north Northumberland. We have planned the walks to be satisfying but hopefully not too demanding, varying in length but not exceeding 8 miles in a day with one day likely involving a bit of hilly terrain and the other two taking in predominantly flat, coastal terrain. Our ramblings will take us to such places as Bamburgh, ancient centre of power and culture during the golden age of Northumbria; Budle bay where it is said that a laidly serpent once regained her maiden form with a brother's kiss; inland to the the Iron Age hill fort of Yeavering Bell and the Anglo-Saxon feasting hall of Ad Gefrin; and across the tidal sands in the footsteps of countless pilgrims to the holy island of Lindisfarne where Aidan of Iona founded a monastery, bringing Celtic Christianity to Northumbria in the time of King Oswald.
There will be lots of music with an intimate concert one evening from The Brothers Gillespie and on another evening a concert from a wonderful guest musician. We will be eating together at the long dining table of Dunstan Hall and we imagine spending our evenings sharing conversation, poetry, music and each others company in and around the hall . We will also be visiting some fine Northumbrian pubs for a couple of meals out together over the course of the week. Places are limited so it will be a fairly small gathering and we hope there will also be opportunity for peace, solitude and reflection in the midst of our time together.
We have always found this part of Northumberland very magical and over the last couple of years we have found ourselves growing more deeply involved with it through our work with Hazelsong Theatre troupe, creating pieces engaging with the rich history, mythology and folkore of the place and feeling the powerful dreams of its physical and imaginary landscapes. We aim to bring some of this into the residential and in addition to our house concert we will be telling some stories relating to the place that we hope will resonate with our experience of walking through the land together.
There is a large element of the unexpected to this which we invite! Much of the magic will be created by the people who come with us and the synchronicities that there are amongst us. All are welcome and it is open to non musicians and musicians alike, poets and non poets and everyone in between! We hope that friendships might be forged and that the experience might be soul-nourishing.
We also hope this is something we will do again, perhaps many times, but at this stage we don’t know so it may well be a one off.
Accommodation is available at Dunstan Hall which dates back to the 11th century and also at the adjacent Hemmel House which is newly built in traditional materials and has a light and airy feel. The categories of room available are ensuite double and twin, non ensuite double and twin, non ensuite single and non ensuite shared rooms (small dormitories). In dormitory/shared rooms there will not be more than 4 people (and the 4 person dorm is effectively two adjoining rooms). Please note that we envisage the double and twin rooms being for couples or friends sharing and we are unlikely to be able to accommodate single bookings in these rooms. Self contained single rooms are limited so the majority of space available for folks booking on as singles will be in shared dorms. For those in non ensuite rooms (only relevant in the Hall as Hemmel rooms are all ensuite) there are are two well appointed bathroom/ shower rooms with toilets on the 1st floor of the hall and also two toilets on the ground floor. If you send us an enquiry we can advise further on the available accommodation options.