|The Stainforth & Keadby Canal at Thorne|
|Information Board by English Nature showing the Nightjar (aka "goatsucker") to lure you onto wonderful Thorne Moors|
I know because I've already been chided for interfering with people's Christmas preparations, for encroaching on people's sleep late into the night with Kindles under the sheets and for lowering people's body temperature with the description of life on a Humber Keel in the middle of an icy February in that first chapter!
As soon as I first ventured out onto Thorne Moors, on the Humberhead Levels, back in the summer of 2005, my imagination was possessed and senses thrilled by this fragile and extraordinary wilderness wonderland. It crept into my psyche, whispering in the voices of my ancestors who lived and died around these bleak peatlands stretching for miles in every direction around Doncaster, to Thorne, Fishlake, Stainforth, Hatfield, Crowle, Epworth, Belton, Goole and Rawcliffe to the north.
Many of my people, like Thirza Holberry's family in "Goatsucker Harvest", were keelmen and women, mariners and water gypsies, born to live and work on the boats that came inland on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, the River Don and the South Yorkshire navigation waterways that zigzag across the peaty dykes and warp drains, joining this weird flat landscape to the restless North Sea.
|Beware of adders - a warning Thirza learns to heed from Bram in "Goatsucker Harvest" chapter 9!|
This bizarre backdrop is home to as many rare and precious creatures and plants as you will find anywhere in the UK: nightjars (the "goatsuckers" of the title), adders, lizards, dragonflies, cottongrass and sphagnum mosses. Somewhere in the region of 4,000 animal and plant species live here, including 25 of the rarest of all found in Britain, like the giant raft spider and the mire pill beetle.
If you aren't able to come to the moors today, why not explore with me in your wildest imagination? The landscape of "Goatsucker Harvest" is waiting for you, seldom travelled by the faint of heart, full of hidden treasures and unnerving mystery, be it unseen menace or life-enhancing transformation.
|Purple Vetch and Bracken on Thorne Moors|
|Noticeboard showing the Nightjar (aka "goatsucker") on Thorne Moors [English Nature]|
|Path towards Thorne Moors: the drama of the Levels|
|Peatland path across Thorne Moors|
|A wonderfully wet wilderness|