Take a walk around the countryside that surrounds Grimalhame and all the clowders of Arcadia.
The Great Arcadian Forest consists of all of the wooded areas in Arcadia combined. However, each section of woodland or forest has a name so creatures can find their way around. For example - Grimalhame resides in Oakwood, Orishame in Hazelwood, and Marishame in Birchwood. Because the area that surrounds Grimalhame is so large, Grimalkins decided to map the area so that travellers and scouts could find their way easily without getting hopelessly lost.
The Clowder of Grimalhame is the centre of a whole network of smaller clowders and settlements that fall within a 600 mile radius in every direction. Apart from the main clowders of Grimalhame, Marishame and Orishame, there are the gypsy communities of Freecloud, Lochan Hathai and Munin Òetiri. Shilgrene, Margrene, Grindlerigg, Marleyrigg, Kerry and Meade are all permanent mini-clowders with their own councils, but still fall under the protection and jurisdiction of the Clowder Mother.
The clowders of Marishame and Orishame lie south of Grimalhame. It is south of Marishame that one can find the oldest cairns, earthworks and weather stations. There are not many abandoned settlements here as there are further north as many Grimalkins decided to stay put. Despite being a lot less densely populated that they used to be, the permanent southern settlements are still thriving with their own traditions and cultures. The bogs and mires still retain their old cross-border names.
To the west lies the Marshlands of Argyre, Garren’s Moss and Shawsdale Moss and quiet, self-contained communities of Yllaw and Migginscroft and, to the south, are the communities of Greater and Lesser Hoggside.
On the maps are several settlement ‘markers’. These are settlements long since abandoned by Grimalkins, some for more than nine-thousand years. Almost nothing remains of these settlements as the inhabitants took everything they had and moved to more sheltered places such as Shilgrene, Margrene and other permanent settlements.
Closer to home are the areas known as the Barrows and the Willows. Both places are not strictly settlements, but places in which a travelling Grimalkin can rest and make camp for a while. The river Hestia runs between these places so is an ideal spot in order to get one’s bearings.
East of Grimalhame are the plantations that supply the clowders and settlements with timber. The plantations are small but many, enclosed within established, ancient forests so that harvesting and coppicing does not leave huge scars on the landscape. The plantations are also enclosed to allow the citizens living within the forests to look after them without being too exposed to the elements during the winter months. There are clowders that are solely responsible for the maintenance and harvesting of timber. They are Nightfolds and Hibblescroft in the forest of Winterweald, Hraitharholme in the forest of Greater Larnside, Isenheard in the forest of Whitewillow Moss and Reiverguards in the forest of Lesser Larnside. Every two centuries, the plantations are moved to another part of the area such as Alderwood, Shawsdale Moss, Garren’s Moss, Birchwood or Wyldenweald.
The uninhabited grassland and forest of western Arcadia. However, this pretty part of the country is popular with holidaymakers and those wishing to take a break from busy clowder life.
In the west and north of Eluinn Bay is a busy place consisting of five mainland clowders – Feathershiel, Marram-by-the-Wind, Carragheen, Cannockeel and MacGillesheathenach – one island clowder – Mizzleguards and the only island clowder in Arcadia – and a settlement – Kellcowrie. The clowder of MacGillesheathenach is an anomaly as it is actually inhabited by wildcats and not forest cats, and far removed from the tundra of Anshar and the other wildcat strongholds in the north.Furbelows is a seasonal settlement only occupied during the spring and summer. Grimalkins use this settlement and its facilities while they fish the fertile waters of the Sea of Echoes, and for travellers in search of rest. A stodurendi lies not far from the settlement so one can reach central and eastern Arcadia in no time. Unlike Kellcowrie, Furbelows is exposed to the elements and the fierce wind coming off the sea and so not suitable for habitation during the autumn and winter.
To the north and northeast are Larchwood and the Great Lake Danir. If one travels due north for four-hundred miles, one would reach Anshar, the land of the wildcats. Anshar is the last outpost before one reaches Siluria and the pole. You will notice that the place names are very different. That is because wildcat communities are always marked in Old Grimalkin. Anshar’s place names are frozen in time, a time when all cats spoke in Old Grimalkin. In a way, the old names reflect Anshar itself and sets it apart from the lands to the south. Here, north of Kellisdruinn, the clans of the north hold sway. Kellisdruinn sits on the border and is the northernmost point of the sphere of influence of the Clowder Mother.
Most of the land between clowders is open country; hills, heather moors, rocky outcrops and meadows. Such is the variety of natural features it is hard to get lost when travelling from one clowder to another. Lone trees (mostly oaks, pines and hawthorns) mark the way to the clowders and settlements and are well-know. Some even have names. There are also well-worn, well-trodden paths that criss-cross the landscape from north to south, and from east to west (and sometimes round and round), from clowder to clowder. But a wandering Grimalkin will no doubt find some interesting and helpful things that will help them along the way.
Ley Markers - The countryside is littered with markers and other features that help a Grimalkin find their way around. Ley markers and standing stones, often carved with intricate designs – can be found all across Arcadia. They mark the point in which a ley line, a concentrated path of earth energy, can be found. If two, three or four ley lines meet, it will be marked on the stone with lines or symbols. Sometimes a ley marker will also act as a signpost to the nearest clowder or settlement.
Metes – A mete, or boundary marker stone, is also a common feature of the Arcadian landscape. They can be found as far south as the Aerion Hills and as far north as Glennmannoch. Elders of the ancient clowders erected metes so a travelling Grimalkin could find neighbouring clowders easily but, over time, wandering Grimalkins erected their own if they felt that a place was not signposted well enough. There are literally thousands of metes all over Arcadia, some richly decorated with spirals and cup-and-ring markings, whereas others are crudely carved with a place name, direction arrow and distance in miles (or sometimes paces).
Stodurendi – Stodurendi is the Old Grimalkin word for dolmen, an ancient structure consisting of a large, flat stone supported by two or three upright stones. A stodurendi is no ordinary dolmen. It is a portal to other places in the Far Pavilions. There are many stodurendi in Arcadia, the nearest situated west of the Anatura Cascade. If one passes through a stodurendi, one can be transported anywhere in the Far Pavilions. A stodurendi is distinguishable from an ordinary dolmen by its intricate and complex spiral patterns.
The Summershiel Trail that runs from Madder-by-the-Weald to Archangel is well marked and goes through a series of hills and two mountains – Miramora and Sfaiganfell – and past Merrysorrel Tarp (distinctive as it is covered in purple heather), then turns east to form the Wynstra Trail that leads to the clowder of Hollybriars. Cairns act as markers which guide travellers along the right route if they are not following a traditional trail. Some cairns are more than nine-hundred years old and very large, stones added by generations of wanderers and inter-clowder commuters.
Archangel, in the forest of Cleaverfeald, is the last outpost before one reaches Tharsis. A convenient stodurendi allows Grimalkins to go north. Equally, northerners will come south via the dolmen to take advantage of the milder winters, especially the elderly. Snow lovers will head north to enjoy the snows and the magnificent festival atmosphere of Grimalhame and its surrounding clowders.
Thingoes – in ancient times, before the Clowder of Grimalhame was established, elders and clowder chiefs used to meet in the forest at certain times of the year. They met on small grassy hillocks called thingoes. Many thingoes are naturally occurring but some were artificially created if the nearest thingoe was too far away. They became unofficial meeting places for ordinary Grimalkins who wanted to discuss important matters, or just to tell stories. Thingoes are still used to this day, especially in the summertime.
Burial Cairns – Burial cairns have been used since time immemorial and they are found all over Arcadia, sometimes in the most remote places. Grimalkins have several ways in which they can be committed after death.
Lookouts and Hafods – It is not uncommon for a wandering Grimalkin to happen upon a small wooden hut on the top of a remote hill in the middle of nowhere. But such huts -or hafods – serve a purpose. They provide life-saving shelter to the Grimalkin who finds himself caught out by the weather, or is simply too tired to continue his journey. Hafods are a basic affair with a small stove, tinder, logs and flint. A simple bed is provided as well as woollen blankets wrapped in skins to keep them dry. A small cabinet will often have jars of preserves, bread, salted meat and fish, and casks of ale, mead and cordial. Far from being ramshackle buildings, hafods are well-maintained and clean.
Erratics - Most erratics were deposited some six-hundred-thousand years ago during the last ice age in the Time of Dragons, or the Time of Stars and Numbers in the Grimalkin annals. In ancient times, erratics were believed to be the spines of the Great Earth Dragon that lies beneath the earth while others believed the stones were put there by the Great Mother Goddess to help lost Grimalkins find their way. Whatever you believe, erratics have become an essential part of the landscape and several trails were deliberately formed to include the stones as significant markers.
Glacial erratics can be found all over Arcadia and Northern Tharsis. Erratics are large stones and boulders that have been deposited by slow-moving glaciers long since melted. The largest and most famous erratic can be found at the clowder of Sigaldrien, a clowder built around it. Standing at twelve feet high and over seventeen feet in circumference, the Sigaldrien Erratic forms the meeting place of many clowder activities, the most important being the Kittening of youngsters.