Letters to the void – A conversation with the landscape of Tatton Park.

A Conversation with the Landscape of Tatton Park

Tatton Park is just down the road from my home and a delight to visit for its wide open flattish, hedge free landscape. A feeling of openness, freedom, giving long wide views to the faulted margin of Pennine Hills, way to the east towering above the Cheshire Plain.

On New Year’s Eve 2020 our lockdown treat was a walk through Tatton Park. A winter wonderland, crispy and crunchy under foot, white with snow, twinkling in the low angle winter sunlight with kids sledging down slopes on the west side of the road by Tatton Mere.

Of course I couldn’t stop myself talking about the landscape. I talk to the rocks and they talk to me even though hidden below my feet. So I talked about the sledgers’ slope – a scarp, a subsidence scar, left as a record of land sinking when underlying solid rock salt dissolves and turns to brine, the hidden supportive landscape disappears, the ground surface collapses, steep slopes and depressions form. There are more subsidence scars still on the move, crossing the road east of Melchett Mere giving a lumpy bumpy bike ride up the hill to Tatton Hall.

But when did the land collapse?

The sinking probably started on a Cheshire wide scale wherever there is rock salt, at the end of the last ice age, with the massive global deglacialization of 14,000, 12,000, 10,000 years ago. Then melt water below, within and flooding out of the 1000m thick ice sheet scoured and dissolved the underlying rock salt, creating sub-ice streams, torrents and valleys. Now buried beneath spreads and sheets of glacial debris, sand, boulders, clay and silt covering and hiding the sub ice landscape filling the scarred salt surface, and valleys.

How do we know about Tatton’s hidden landscape below our feet?

It could all be explained by one word: Porosity.


Here’s one definition

(After Tucker M 1991 Sedimentary Petrology ISBN 0-632-0264-7)

Porosity – the measure of pore space in sediments and rocks.

Absolute Porosity – the total void space, both voids around grains and within grains

Effective Porosity – interconnected void space.

Effective porosity governs the Permeability of sediments and rocks to Transmit fluids and gases

The same applies to ideas and concepts

Effective Porosity of interconnected ideas and concepts

Permeability of ideas and concepts

Transmission of ideas and concepts

So how do we know about Tatton’s hidden landscape below our feet?

We need to have a conversation with Tatton Park from a geological, historical and present perspective.

The transmission, porosity and permeability of the landscapes of time past on the landscape of time present.

Understand the hidden messages, ideas and concepts

Seek clues. Find patterns. Links

Amass and integrate knowledge and concepts, interpretations, viewpoints of influence of hidden past landscapes.

What is important is communication:

Reading the landscape

Reading the rocks

Earth to person/people

Person to landscape /earth

Person to person

And here’s a start

What caused the very recent (in geological terms) addition to the Tatton landscape the formation of Melchett Mere in the 1920s?


Tatton Park is a palimpsest of past hidden landscapes.

Tatton Park’s time present landscape is a product of the porosity and influence of many hidden landscapes formed over the eons of time past.

Tatton’s time present landscape and time past landscapes can be read to make predictions for time future landscapes.


On 12th April 2021 as lockdown eased and the sun shone brightly, I walked again in Tatton Park. This time with Tracy Hill to read the landscape, check it out, walk over it, to touch the traces of the messages transmitting from the past.

And what came out from this walk was a change and expansion my sphere of investigations my interests, my thoughts from:

Merging of conversations

Different perspectives

Going off at tangents

Different view points

Out of the ordinary

Push boundaries

Spark off new internet searches: rising and falling of peat bog surfaces, sound and seismic transmissions in peat bogs

Senses sounds links connections

New framework when reading newspapers books poems social media

Watch TV Videos Films without sound

Hunt for clues. Figure things out

Different focus. Different view

Documentaries of landscape wild life focus own interest not commentator’s agenda

EG: angle waves meet shoreline not the Orca crashing into surf to catch seals.

Ros Todhunter 27 April 2021

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