A slew of charming terms that sweetly evoke the essence of our glorious countryside

From basking in a sun-scald to strolling down a lesser-trodden strodi – these obscure terms sweetly evoke the essence of our glorious British countryside.

Not many today would recognise a currick – a pile of stones left to guide travellers on the hills – or be able to identify a ystum – the old Welsh name for a curve in a waterway.

Allow us to guide you through some of the weird and wonderful words describing our rural landscape which are in danger of being forgotten forever…  

Sun-scald 

Let there be light: A sun-scald is a patch of bright sunlight bursting through the clouds onto the surface of water, like this scene in the Lake District

Let there be light: A sun-scald is a patch of bright sunlight bursting through the clouds onto the surface of water, like this scene in the Lake District

Let there be light: A sun-scald is a patch of bright sunlight bursting through the clouds onto the surface of water, like this scene in the Lake District

Strodi

Hit the roadi: Or rather the strodi — a path between walls — one of hundreds of old words describing our countryside

Hit the roadi: Or rather the strodi — a path between walls — one of hundreds of old words describing our countryside

Hit the roadi: Or rather the strodi — a path between walls — one of hundreds of old words describing our countryside

Shivelight 

Lightbulb moment: Robert Macfarlane, who teaches English at Cambridge, has unearthed the perfect word to describe the bright shafts of sunshine that pierce a wood — shivelight

Lightbulb moment: Robert Macfarlane, who teaches English at Cambridge, has unearthed the perfect word to describe the bright shafts of sunshine that pierce a wood — shivelight

Lightbulb moment: Robert Macfarlane, who teaches English at Cambridge, has unearthed the perfect word to describe the bright shafts of sunshine that pierce a wood — shivelight

Currick

Show me the way to go home: In the days before maps and compasses, let alone GPS on smartphones, locals left piles of stones — or curricks — to guide travellers on the hills

Show me the way to go home: In the days before maps and compasses, let alone GPS on smartphones, locals left piles of stones — or curricks — to guide travellers on the hills

Show me the way to go home: In the days before maps and compasses, let alone GPS on smartphones, locals left piles of stones — or curricks — to guide travellers on the hills

Ammil 

Ice to see you, to see you ice: A brilliant picture of ammil, the historic term coined in Exmoor for the delicate slivers that form on foliage when a new freeze follows a thaw

Ice to see you, to see you ice: A brilliant picture of ammil, the historic term coined in Exmoor for the delicate slivers that form on foliage when a new freeze follows a thaw

Ice to see you, to see you ice: A brilliant picture of ammil, the historic term coined in Exmoor for the delicate slivers that form on foliage when a new freeze follows a thaw

Wurr 

Wurr and peace: This obscure term collected by academic Robert Macfarlane in his book Landscape refers to the hoar frost covering this silent winter scene

Wurr and peace: This obscure term collected by academic Robert Macfarlane in his book Landscape refers to the hoar frost covering this silent winter scene

Wurr and peace: This obscure term collected by academic Robert Macfarlane in his book Landscape refers to the hoar frost covering this silent winter scene

Polly-dishwasher 

Flight of fancy: Surely a pied wagtail would find it hard to help out in the kitchen, so why old-timers in Hampshire gave her this domestic moniker is anyone’s guess

Flight of fancy: Surely a pied wagtail would find it hard to help out in the kitchen, so why old-timers in Hampshire gave her this domestic moniker is anyone’s guess

Flight of fancy: Surely a pied wagtail would find it hard to help out in the kitchen, so why old-timers in Hampshire gave her this domestic moniker is anyone’s guess

Shreep 

Morning has broken: A view across the Fens to Ely Cathedral as the slowly clearing mist — or shreep — lifts. These ancient words are a hymn to the beauty of nature

Morning has broken: A view across the Fens to Ely Cathedral as the slowly clearing mist — or shreep — lifts. These ancient words are a hymn to the beauty of nature

Morning has broken: A view across the Fens to Ely Cathedral as the slowly clearing mist — or shreep — lifts. These ancient words are a hymn to the beauty of nature

Smoot-hole 

The animals came in two by two: It’s a gap in a dry stone wall to let them into the next field

The animals came in two by two: It’s a gap in a dry stone wall to let them into the next field

The animals came in two by two: It’s a gap in a dry stone wall to let them into the next field

Glossamer 

Now that's a web sight: Glossamer is the shining filaments spiders spin across the countryside and are usually best seen at dawn

Now that's a web sight: Glossamer is the shining filaments spiders spin across the countryside and are usually best seen at dawn

Now that’s a web sight: Glossamer is the shining filaments spiders spin across the countryside and are usually best seen at dawn

Witches knickers 

The modern curse: An Irish phrase for plastic caught in bushes — and we can all say knickers to that!

The modern curse: An Irish phrase for plastic caught in bushes — and we can all say knickers to that!

The modern curse: An Irish phrase for plastic caught in bushes — and we can all say knickers to that!

Wontytump 

Don’t make a mountain out of a wontytump: Yes, that’s what Herefordshire folk call Mr Mole’s hills

Don’t make a mountain out of a wontytump: Yes, that’s what Herefordshire folk call Mr Mole’s hills

Don’t make a mountain out of a wontytump: Yes, that’s what Herefordshire folk call Mr Mole’s hills

Ystum 

Round the river bend: The Welsh have an old name for a curve in a waterway — but the pronunciation is a bit of a tongue-twister

Round the river bend: The Welsh have an old name for a curve in a waterway — but the pronunciation is a bit of a tongue-twister

Round the river bend: The Welsh have an old name for a curve in a waterway — but the pronunciation is a bit of a tongue-twister

Knott 

You learn summit new every day: If you wondered why there wasn’t a word for rocky outcrops at the top of hills, well the Cumbrians always had one — a knott

You learn summit new every day: If you wondered why there wasn’t a word for rocky outcrops at the top of hills, well the Cumbrians always had one — a knott

You learn summit new every day: If you wondered why there wasn’t a word for rocky outcrops at the top of hills, well the Cumbrians always had one — a knott

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