When I reach Dryburn Moor at 03:20h one day in late March there’s a veil of white mist hanging over the heather. It’s -2C up here; it’s also windless and dark.
This particular patch of Northumberland is marked on Ordnance Survey maps as Flow Moss and its raised dome of peat bog, sedges and heather is the watershed between the river valleys of the West and East Allen. It’s early but not quiet. The cold dry air is punctuated by the explosive calls of red grouse and somewhere high above there is a golden plover: I imagine its slow circular display flight overhead whilst listening to its languid song falling down from the pale grey sky.
This is a treeless landscape and the gathering songs are mostly delivered from the wing. Curlews describe low arcs announcing their names whilst lapwing and redshank waver and warble. The chorus peaks before sunrise as skylarks, Shakespeare’s ‘ploughmen’s clock’, rise up and disappear into the air as silver pinpoints of song.
Read ‘Ears to the Ground’ – an introduction to Chris Watson’s work and his Kings Place residency.
This sound installation can be heard from 26 February until 15 March 2020 ahead of all Nature Unwrapped concerts taking place in Hall One. Access to the installation requires a concert ticket for the relevant main event in Hall One.