The first draft of ‘Above Ickornshaw, Black Huts’ appears on Day 16 of the notebook alongside two other mentions of the huts. Above the draft is a paragraph headed ‘Ickornshaw Grouse Shooting Huts’ which lists real and imagined features of the huts (‘Black, pitch, creosote, […] whisky, cigar, liquorice’), many of which will appear in the poem.
On the page facing the draft the huts are briefly mentioned in the walking journal for the day: ‘Up onto moor […] Black huts; can see the line of wind turbines above Howarth – slightly and conveniently forgetting the fact that after I get home I need to set off again, so some kind of slingshot past my own planet.’
The focus of the journal entry is the journey home, and the black huts, glimpsed fleetingly, seem unimportant. However, an earlier entry (from day 11) suggests the subject has been considered for a few days already: ‘Sinister grouse shooting huts […] like gun emplacements […]. Again, a shock that the moors are not wild but owned and managed and manipulated.’
The repeated appearance of these huts, their ambiguity and their position on the moors, form the imaginative catalyst for an uncanny and unnerving poem.