Carol Hughes beside 'The Lake' poem
Trail with a rhyme and reason
By Laura Joint
The Ted Hughes Poetry Trail has been opened in Stover Country Park in South Devon, featuring 16 poems by the late Poet Laureate who made Devon his home.
Some of Ted Hughes' best loved poems are being displayed on a new poetry trail at Stover Country Park near Newton Abbot.
Sixteen of the late Poet Laureate's works are on 'poetry posts,' and each of them have a theme relating to the natural world.
A number of his children's poems are also on show in a specially created children's trail, which has a huge story-tellers chair carved out of wood.
Although born in Yorkshire, Ted Hughes moved to North Devon in 1961 and made the county his home until his death in 1998.
Ted Hughes loved nature - and he loved Devon too
The poetry trail in his name has the backing of his widow, Carol Hughes, who has lived in Devon all her life.
She said: "When Devon County Council first approached me with this idea, I was very moved that Ted's life and poetry were to be recognised in this way.
"Now, seeing it come to fruition is intensely rewarding.
"I feel delighted to see it finished, to see all the poetry posts in position, to see the children's trail and the giant story-tellers seat. Everything just feels absolutely right.
"Ted lived in Devon for most of his life and his passion for its countryside, moors and rivers is clear from many of his poems.
"He also devoted much of his time to projects involving education and conservation at local as well as national level.
Carol Hughes in the story-tellers chair
"I am sure that he would have felt deeply honoured by this celebration of his work in such an imaginative, natural setting."
The trail has been two years in the making. The idea came from Ed Chorlton, Devon County Council's director of Environment, Economy and Culture.
Stover is managed by the county council and is a local nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest because of its rare dragonfly species and invertebrates.
The siting of the poetry posts have been carefully selected, reflecting the creatures and wildlife which can be found in those spots.
Among the Ted Hughes poems chosen are An Otter; A Cormorant; Nightjar; Trees; The Lake; The Kingfisher; The Thought-Fox; and Dragonfly.
'The Lake' poem beside The Lake at Stover
Mrs Hughes said: "It's quite interesting in a way because Ted used to say that you should not site a poem with an image that reflected it completely because he felt that was almost too trite.
"But I think in a countryside setting, you can get away with it. It really works and I think it enhances one's excitement about the poem and one opens one's eyes more, looking at the natural world and really seeing if you can see that fox; that whatever really."
Mrs Hughes believes her husband would feel humble that such a trail has been created in his honour.
"He loved Devon passionately. It was his home for the major part of his life. He was very committed to Devon - to its rivers, to its moors, everything about it really.
"I think Ted would have been pleased with this. I think he would have felt very honoured too. Because the environment here has remained so natural, I think he would have felt that if it was going to be anywhere in Devon, this is fine.
"And this keeps a living presence for Ted's work."
The main trail has 16 poems and takes about two hours to walk. It is suitable for wheelchairs. There are also plans for the poems to be done in Braille form. The children's trail is suitable even for very young children.
For more details about Stover Country Park, visit the website using the link on this page.
last updated: 22/02/2008 at 10:32