Given the landlocked location of Ickornshaw, West Yorkshire, some of the imagery of ‘Above Ickornshaw, Black Huts’ might seem strange. From the first draft, mention is made of the ‘moor’s sea’, and the huts are described as ‘lashed down’, later ‘braced for Atlantic gales.’ The presence of a ‘ship’s chain’ adds to this nautical tone.
One reason for this can be found in the huts’ likeness to beach huts or chalets, but another derives from the landscape itself. Ordnance Survey Map OL21 – used by Armitage on this section of the walk - shows that one area of moor between Ickornshaw and Ponden is called ‘The Sea’. But, again, the red notebook reveals that the sense of the moor as a sea is one Armitage has been considering even prior to this: ‘with the low, wet , shifty horizon, what the view most reminds you of is the sea’ (day 11).
The image of the huts on the moor is used by Armitage to determine both the language of the poem and its form. From the outset, the lines of the poem are short and stanzas are brief. In the final version they become tercets which are not quite uniform, and so convey the similarity and idiosyncrasies of the huts they describe. This likeness is made clear in a later notebook where Armitage has drawn different types of hut alongside each stanza.