Above: Old Goyt’s Lane now vanishes beneath the waters of Errwood Reservoir. But in Vera and Rolands’ day this attractive walk would have ended in the picturesque hamlet of Goyt’s Bridge.

It’s poignant to imagine the two lovers looking across to the Goyt from the packhorse bridge. Neither realising that tragedy was just around the corner.

Having recently moved back to Buxton I decided to join the Civic Association as I’ve always felt they do a fine job campaigning for the preservation of important sites in the town.

My membership pack included their magazine, which carried a piece about Vera Brittain, author of ‘Testament of Youth’, who was brought up in Buxton. Her memoir of living through WW1 and the tragic deaths of both her brother and fiancé makes poignant reading.

Her fiancé, Roland Leighton, was also a writer, and like many of his fellow soldiers, found solace in poetry. I was interested to read that Roland’s last poem, delivered to Vera along with his blood-soaked uniform, may describe a walk they both made down Goyt’s Lane.

Lt Roland Leighton (1895-1915)

The sunshine on the long white road
That ribboned down the hill,
The velvet clematis that clung
Around your window-sill,
Are waiting for you still.

Again the shadowed pool shall break
In dimples round your feet,
And when the thrush sings in your wood,
Unknowing you may meet
Another stranger, Sweet.

And if he is not quite so old
As the boy you used to know,
And less proud, too, and worthier,
You may not let him go –
(And daisies are truer than passion-flowers)
It will be better so.

Vera wrote this poem in memory of her fiancé.

Vera Brittain (1893-1970)

Perhaps (To R.A.L.)
Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.’

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

Topic tags (click for similar posts): Buxton | Goyt's Bridge | Writers & poets