Offa’s Dyke – Shropshire and Wales


We are all as full of echoes as a rocky wood, echoes of the past, reflex echoes of the future, and echoes of the soil…

– Mary Webb, Gone to Earth (1917)

The photo above was taken late afternoon in a place that seemed to have come straight out of the Powell/Pressburger film of Gone to Earth, adapted from Mary Webb’s book…


6 thoughts on “Offa’s Dyke – Shropshire and Wales

  1. Your blog is such a treat! There’s so much here about stuff I love; Kate Bush, Penelope Farmer, myths, Alan Garner, Hardy, H.E. Bates etc. etc…

    In my twenties, I went through a very intense Mary Webb phase… well, such things go into shaping who we are, don’t they… so it’s probably an ever-renewing phase really!

    Gone to Earth and Precious Bane absolutely gripped me and spoke so many of the things on my mind when I first read them. The film captures the essence of Gone to Earth so well, I think. Again, the landscape as character…

    Lovely photos – full too of that essence that Mary Webb’s novel and the film capture. And what wonderful skies!

    • Really pleased that you enjoy it!

      Mary Webb’s description is incredibly rich and dense (and I found out that Cold Comfort Farm is a parody of it, which is interesting!). Hardy-ish hand of fate too.

      Glad that you like the Big Sky…

      • Yes, I love the unleashed power of her work – all that richness and density and spilling out… like the power of the elements themselves…

        It’s a testament, I think, to those links between Mary Webb, Hardy and also D.H. Lawrence that Stella Gibbons wove a bit of all of them into Cold Comfort Farm. It’s fun spotting the allusions! It’s a great read – and a testament in a different way too, really – you know something’s really hit home in the general consciousness when someone writes a parody of it!

      • I’ve yet to read Cold Comfort Farm properly which is daft because I really like Stella Gibbons – but I have seen a 1968 BBC version which really went for parody in no small way with voiceovers of the descriptive passages. They’re like a great spoof from Private Eye today, she’s incredibly sharp. It doesn’t diminish Mary Webb at all though, like you say, and it’s not dismissive – I think Stella Gibbons is similarly observant of the natural world in her other books, and it’s as much Hardy as Lawrence too, and Gibbon’s whole demeanour as a writer is a million miles from smug superiority.

  2. Love the photos and film clip. I have a copy of Precious Bane which was my mother’s but I have not read Gone To Earth. The Shropshire landscape is beautiful – I walked a bit of Offas’s Dyke a few years ago. I think Mary Webb is ready for a revival.

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