Caught by the River

Intersecting Pathways

Joe Devlin | 11th August 2018

A new short story from Joe Devlin. With illustrations by David Mackintosh.

From this lofty spot both absorbed in thought, the landscape laid out before us, we consider the numerous pathways, eyes travelling along worn courses, unravelling crossing threads, moving over trodden grasses and across the entrenched, age-old tracks, trails traversed by countless forepassed feet.

Cotton-sedge dotted fields, smatterings of wispy white growth in the dank blanket bogs, divided into irregular segments by a grid of trampled routes and yawning groughs. Boscage broken lines, to the left a monumental walked saltire quarters the sward, others that diverge, splitting and branching off in each and every direction.

Another leads straight-up the steep hill, cutting it in half, plumb, and, we presume, continues on the other side, maybe a wobbly run down, like one made by a rolled out ball of yarn that has bounced over bumps. It is circuitously cut through at various rising points by a looped trail grooved into the stone.

We opt for the spine, a ridge, this an elegant, elongated line that weaves its way above the pleated valleys and terraced hillsides. We progress – single file, focused on each step.

The layered landscape, at one time mud, now made up of slate, shale and scarps. Relics in the rocks, horsetail, crinoid and clubmoss fossils can be found in the seams.

We pass through a cluster of arrow straight conifers, thinking of the petrified impressions, before hitting a change in terrain from dark to white.  Meandering dales, Calaminarian grassland and limestone heaths replace the bleak, deep cut cloughs.


Content to Gather is the first collaborative project between Joe Devlin and David Mackintosh. It takes the form of a book published by Aye-Aye Books with writing from Devlin, drawings by Mackintosh and an afterword by Martin Holman. Limited to 500 copies. Design by Daren Newman. Priced at £10. Buy a copy here.