Ammon Wrigley - "The Scouthead Road"

The following is a transcription of a work by Saddleworth poet Ammon Wrigley (1861-1946).

The Scouthead Road

The road from top of Austerlands that swings out to the east—
Where is there another road half so good for man and beast?
Half so good for lusty tramping for an ailing man, to find
A way to make him hearty and sound in limb and wind.
It’s not a sleepy lowland road that goes its way in dreams,
But a gripping mountain road, bolder even than it seems;
It leaps up out of Lancashire and revels on the down,
A joyous thing that’s broken from the trammels of the town.
Air and light are cheapest physic, and believe me they are best;
If you doubt this then I pray you put them to the test.
Go striding up through Austerlands, and set your face to meet
The wind that’s over Stanedge from the moorlands clean and sweet.
If you're feeling fagged and weary, and your coat hangs on your back,
If you cannot face your breakfast, and your waistcoat’s getting slack,
Get you out to Scouthead meadows, to a place that makes you feel
A pound of steak and onions will only serve for half a meal.
Do not sit beside the fire in a moping mood and sad;
Shake yourself, and foot it on the Scouthead road, my lad.
Rip your shirt neck open, tear and fling your waistcoat wide,
Let the wind blow through your lungs and sweeten you inside.
Get you up to old Newhouses; get you soon or get you late,
And I’ll wager pounds to pennies that you'll jump a five-barred gate.
But what’s the use of talking, wasting words will do no good;
What you want is nature’s tonic flinging sunrise through your blood.
The breakneck and the hurry of your weary week of toil,
The clamour of the driving wheels the cotton dust and oil,
There’s a royal road to slip them if you care to test its worth—
The open road and tramping are the finest things on earth.
Let them stifle in their cities half a dozen in a bed,
Let them struggle through the crowd till they’re nearly choked and dead,
Get the joy of breezy acres where there’s room to stride about,
And the God of all the gods puts the sordid things to rout.
If you stand out east of Pastures and look downward o’er the land,
You have got four English counties in the hollow of your hand.
There is Lancashire and Cheshire, the mountains of the Peak,
The brave strong hills of Yorkshire, that battle for the weak.
The high wood over Grotton that is brown with throstle wings,
The bird loved fields of Wharmton where first the skylark sings,
The farm lands over “Brunedge” that are restful to the eye,
The swarthy moor of Alphin that goes climbing up the sky.
Out o’er the level meadows and the long green cattle tracks,
You see the town of Ashton and its herded chimney stacks,
So faint on summer evenings, and so far away it looks,
A city of old romance that you read in fairy books.
When August comes in shouting of the bonnie heather cock,
And the rough lands over Badger where the golden plovers flock,
And the bent begins to whiten in the pastures on the hill,
Oh that’s the time for tramping and to feel your pulses thrill.
Then hey for top of Austerlands, and hey for all it gives;
For the freedom and the freshness for which a mortal lives.
The road that calls the weakling and makes him lithe and strong,
And takes away his whining and fills him full of song.