The Aune Identity

14/06/2016 - 12:31



The River Aune is a delightful river with a wild, old-world atmosphere for much of it's journey through Dartmoor National Park. It rises in the bleak and desolate Aune Head Mires on Ryder's Hill 460 metres above sea level, in fact it's name is from the Old Norse 'audhn' (meaning "from a bleak and desolate place") - this apt naming of the river by the Danish Vikings appeals to me far more than it's alternative name of the River Avon.



Bluebell leaves upon the mossy banks beside a dog-leg flow around a vast boulder on The Aune

(This is a 'Vertoramic' stitch of 5 overlapping 'landscape format' frames)




The word Avon comes from the Brythonic language meaning 'River' - and is remarkably similar to the Celtic & Modern Welsh variant Afon. The many Avons we have in England as basically then the 'River River' in each case, so Aune, for me at least, wins in it's better narrative naming.




As well as the sinuous vistas, there are myriad opportunities for intimate studies of tones,

flow, form and textures




Despite a section of the river being dammed to form a reservoir, high above Shipley Bridge, it has a significant flow year round and reassuringly the vast majority of it's moorland descent is in a natural state.After heavy rains it's level quickly rises, along with the volume of the music of it's cascades. To think of the flowing water as being the sole essence of the Auhn, is somewhat short-sighted. This as with all rivers, brooks, burns, bournes & streams I feel are the sum of all the surrounding elements, as well as the water. The rich diversity of species of lichen, fungi, mosses, ferns, grasses, wild flowers, beeches, oaks, rowan, holly, the fish, the insects, the water-carved burnished granite ledges & boulders - all amplify the mindful celebration of this place and other characterful stretches of flowing water. Then of course the weather, the light & shade all play their part in the theatre of these places.




“There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.” 

Dejan Stojanovic





I liked the way the curved grass, the bluebell leaves and the upper cascades directed energy towards the egg-shaped boulder






With the shading of the trees above in full leaf, there are opportunities for chiaroscuro studies





A mindful approach to wandering such stretches of whitewater in sublime landscapes will help you 'see' the possibilities. Trophy-hunting for the 'pretty' iconic vistas by 'looking' only (rather than the contemplative nature of 'seeing' when attuned to your environment) will likely lead to missing out on the minutiae. I have wandered along this stretch of the Aune more times than I can times I can remember and yet each time, there are new things I notice - and I ask myself how I had not noticed them before. Never stop exploring the 'familiar places' when you revisit them, there's always more to see!





"To know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime's experience. In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts, not width. A gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields - these are as much as a man can fully experience."

Patrick Kavanagh







Will Dawson
19/04/2020 - 16:10
Thanks, I always wondered why the Aune Valley had a river Avon running through it. I guess that Aveton Gifford should be Auton or Auneton Gifford. Best wishes

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