By Alice Lenkiewicz, 2019
I first moved to Litherland in 2012. I had lived in South Liverpool for the last ten years so North Liverpool was unknown territory. I had been used to exploring Waterloo and ‘Another Place’ in Waterloo with my children when we used to travel from Toxteth in the hot Summers for our picnics but at the time we were unaware that there was a beautiful valley very nearby that would one day become a significant part of my life.
Having first moved to Litherland, I decided to explore and I remember being pleasantly surprised to come across the canal by The Red Lion Pub. I have a dog called Poppy and at the time I had another very old dog called Honey.
They both needed to be walked so I was seeking places that I could take them. Honey loved being in the countryside and being walked and allowed to run freely. Exercise was an important part of life for my dogs and for me and together when we used to stroll out together, there was a wonderful feeling of freedom and wellbeing.
Once the walk is over and the dogs have had their daily burst of exercise, everything becomes calmer and more relaxed. People tend to forget about dogs needing parks and countryside but if they were not there, it would actually be quite a dilemma to deal with.
So, I began exploring along the canal by the Red Lion and we couldn’t believe it when to our amazement the canal opened up on to a beautiful plateau of greenery, what seemed like a very large nature reserve. Could we be so lucky as to have this huge valley on our doorstep? As myself and the dogs explored further, we couldn’t believe it. This valley was huge with woodland areas and pathways and meadows. It seemed to go on and on and was exciting as you would feel like you were in magical maze, walking through one pathway, only to come out yet again into another beautiful meadow.
Myself and the dogs were very happy to find this beautiful valley. We felt as though we were the only ones who had discovered it which was silly really but it became our magical secret place and the more we explored it the more we discovered. The summers at Rimrose Valley were heavenly, great tall patches of yellow and purple flowers swaying in the breeze and the sound of birds singing. I really felt there was something special about this place. Myself and my husband would go to Rimrose for long walks in all seasons and even in the winter we enjoyed its strange bleak vastness that emanated an alienish and otherworldly atmosphere that would make you think more about life and it would help you alleviate any stress. After a walk in Rimrose Valley, you get home and you get on with things felling more inspired and more energised.
I grew to love Rimrose Valley. My little dog Honey eventually passed away in her old age and myself and Poppy would be alone exploring the valley. I am an artist and I enjoy filming the area. I created short films about the flowers and trees. I used to love to watch them swaying in the breeze. They looked so beautiful and there was something quite surreal about them. The whole place was very alive, buzzing with energy. It was so wonderful to see a space where there was so much beauty and nature in front of you and it reminded you of how rare this is in our day and age. I remember as a child walking through country lanes and it is strange that this is a far away memory. We should be able to say this about our lives now, not just relating it to the past. We all want our children and us ourselves to appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of nature. The walks through the meadows and country lanes of Rimrose during the summer are so calming and enjoyable. I have also filmed a few glorious full moons rising in the sky at Rimrose on a winter night.
I remember once, about four years ago, my daughter became pregnant with her first child. I said I would paint her somewhere beautiful. I wanted her to look like a pre-raphaelite woman in the painting and it was an automatic decision that it had to be painted in Rimrose Valley. It was a damp but fresh autumn day. I had to do the painting at that time as I was putting this piece of work in for exhibition in London. I took a large piece of green velvet curtain with me and my oil paints, my canvas and a chair. My daughter wrapped herself in the green velvet and I sat down against a tree in the woody area of Rimrose to paint her. I remember all the leaves were a lovely dark golden colour mixed in with yellows.
My daughter’s green velvet robe contrasted beautifully against the autumn leaves. We were a little cold so we didn’t want to stay too long. I completed the first sitting and then we went back another day for a second sitting. The painting is now at my home. It has been a topic of discussion for many people who have often asked about it. It is also a wonderful memory of my daughter and my grandson who had not quite been born yet.
I will never forget that magical autumn day in Rimrose Valley.
I used to see people walking through Rimrose Valley and I often wondered who they were. You would see cyclists and dog walkers and mothers pushing prams with their kids. You would see people just enjoying the sunshine and laying on the grass. Everyone I ever met there was always polite to me. I never had any problems and there was a sense of community to the whole valley.
I was deeply concerned when I heard that Rimrose Valley was to be turned into a motorway. It was a violation of human and wildlife rights in my mind. Who on earth could be so lacking in vision that they would want to destroy this beautiful place? I just couldn’t understand it. I thought it was a silly rumour or something that was just made up at first and then I discovered it was true. It really was a horrific thought. This beautiful valley was going to be demolished? I felt very sad as this was an important chunk of the community. I thought about all the wildlife and their little nests and all the flowers and trees being bombarded. It was such a horrible thought. There would be so much destruction to so many important things.
A campaign started on Facebook and people started coming forward with ideas to raise awareness. I became involved in an art project in the valley and a group of artists and myself all rounded up and created an art exhibition in the valley to raise awareness. I decided to do a painting on the pathway and I created my Goddess Trail. All the people I met while I painted it were very supportive. I enjoyed painting it and I felt very much part of the landscape as if I was contributing to something very primeval and sacred.
Creative writings also started to come out of it, poetry and publications and everyone was writing and becoming involved. Word spread about the plight of the valley and its campaign.
In this day and age, we need our natural environment more than ever. Much may change, but when it comes to nature, people don’t change. We all enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the countryside. We all enjoy the exercise and sense of community that beautiful surroundings bring us. We all enjoy watching nature develop and take its natural course. Rimrose is also an educational area where children and adults learn about nature and wildlife.
Please don’t destroy Rimrose Valley. Rimrose Valley has served the community well and can offer so much more than a motorway ever will.
Alice Lenkiewicz, 2019