Land's End to John O'Groats
A sequence of poetry, prose and music associated with places on the way from Land's End to John O'Groats. With readings by Claudie Blakley and Greg Wise.
Today's Words and Music plots the route from Land's End to John o'Groats, featuring literary characters and situations, writers, poets, historical events, and music associated with places along the way. Beginning on the Cornish cliffs with Henry Alford, through Devon with Sir Henry Baskerville on Dartmoor, to Somerset where secret agent Jim Prideaux is lying low in Taunton. John Betjeman's bells in Bristol, across the Severn Bridge into Monmouth, and more bells in Ledbury described by Wordsworth. A recipe from Shrewsbury, witches in Lancashire, and a composer searching for inspiration in the Lake District. Across the border into Scotland and a fugitive hiding in Galloway, old photographs from Glasgow, a fair maid in Perth and a lovely lass in Inverness. Excerpts are read by Claudie Blakley and Greg Wise.
Producer - Ellie Mant.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
The Land's End, read by Greg Wise
Daphne Du Maurier
Jamaica Inn, read by Claudie Blakley
Sir Henry John Newbolt
Laudabunt Alii, read by Greg Wise
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles, read by Greg Wise
John Le Carre
Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy, read by Claudie Blakley
Bristol, read by Greg Wise
J. Endell Tyler
Henry of Monmouth, Volume 1, Memoirs of Henry the Fifth, read by Claudie Blakley
St Catherine of Ledbury, read by Greg Wise
The Compleat Cook
Expertly Prescribing The Most Ready Wayes, Whether Italian, Spanish Or French, For Dressing Of Flesh And Fish, Ordering Of Sauces Or Making Of Pastry, read by Claudie Blakley
Redburn. His First Voyage, read by Greg Wise
Carol Ann Duffy
The Lancashire Witches, read by Claudie Blakley
Amsterdam, read by Claudie Blakley
The 39 Steps, read by Greg Wise
Some Old Photographs, read by Claudie Blakley
The Fair Maid of Perth, read by Greg Wise
Culloden, read by Claudie Blakley
Robert Naylor and John Naylor
From John O'Groats to Land's End, read by Greg Wise
Farewell to the Highlands, read by Claudie Blakley
Today’s Words and Music plots the route from Land’s End to John o’Groats, featuring literary characters and situations, writers, poets, historical events, and music associated with places along the way. Excerpts are read by Claudie Blakley and Greg Wise.
We start on the cliffs of Cornwall, described by Henry Alford in his poem The Land’s End, and accompanied by one of Malcolm Arnold’s Cornish Dances. Then to Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, the location for a story about wide-scale smuggling on the Cornish coast – a theme also used in Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers. Henry Newbolt says in his poem Laudabunt Alii that nowhere in the world can compare to Devon, though for Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the county is fraught with danger; just as well Sherlock Holmes is around to help. On to Somerset, where secret agent Jim Prideaux is lying low in Taunton in Le Carre’s Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy – Holst’s Somerset Rhapsody provides the accompaniment. John Betjeman represents Bristol, with his description of bell ringing sounding across the Avon.
We cross the Severn Bridge into Wales with Grace Williams’ contribution to a piece written by eminent composers of the time to celebrate its opening in 1966. A brief stop in Monmouth, and a historical account of the birthplace of Henry V. Back in England, and Wordsworth’s sonnet describing Ledbury bells sounding as high as Malvern’s cloudy crest – this of course followed by Elgar. Shrewsbury is celebrated with a 1658 recipe for Shrewsbury Cakes, paired with one of Butterworth’s Songs from A Shropshire Lad. Then to Liverpool where Herman Melville’s Redburn has docked on his first voyage. Carol Ann Duffy’s The Lancashire Witches takes as its theme the famous Pendle Witch trials of 1612; Lancashire-born William Walton accompanies with music to depict another famous set of witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In Ian McEwen’s novel Amsterdam, composer Clive Linley desperately tries to find inspiration for his symphony while walking in the Lake District, underlaid by Maurice Johnstone’s Cumbrian Rhapsody.
Across the border into Scotland, and John Buchan’s character Richard Hannay is hiding from the police somewhere in Galloway. On up to Glasgow, and Liz Lochhead’s evocative poem about old photographs taken there; an old recording of Alfred Deller singing a folksong called Lowlands seemed to suit the nostalgic mood. No trip through Scotland would be complete without some writing by Walter Scott – I chose an extract from The Fair Maid of Perth, a novel which was given an operatic treatment by Georges Bizet. Through Drummosie Moor, famous for the Battle of Culloden – Beethoven’s Lovely Lass of Inverness mourns the loss of her menfolk there. The next extract is from the journal of two brothers who did the first recorded walk of the route in 1871, stopping in Wick for a herring breakfast. The programme ends with Robert Burns’ poem My Heart’s in the Highlands, and Haydn’s setting of the melody for piano trio.
Producer – Ellie Mant