Rising from a bed of ragged dreams I strode into the morn.
The whole village slept, even the cars, tucked in, bumper to bumper along the narrow lane; curtains drawn in cottage windows and me, strolling along the middle of the road, under a dawn sky fading from blush to blue.
Passing the woods, I stood and held my phone aloft to record the morning chorus. From every corner of the valley different sounds, a cockerel, wood pigeons, rooks, blackbirds and so many more I didn’t know. Not a dog barked, not any sound at all but birdsong. Why oh why, didn’t I do this more often when I couldn’t sleep?
Crossing the beck I cupped my hands under a little waterfall, the peat softened water dropping from my fingers as I splashed my face. Did my ancestors do the same long ago? Sheep stared as I started the climb, calf muscles pulling deliciously.
Sitting on a stone stile atop the field, the morning stretched before me, the blues and greens and greys of this northern rural landscape, old as time. Lapwings soared, curlews pee-witted and a tiny but brave little bird landed on the wall only feet away from me and considered me gravely.
Boulsworth is a tough little hill and from Trawden, you’ve already walked a 2 mile gradual incline before you get to the foot of it, so once on the hill proper, I didn’t feel too bad stopping every hundred feet or so to have a breather and inspect the view. This was I admit, the earliest in the day I have ever climbed Boulsworth. I came up once on New Years Day around 9, but I’d not been here at 6.30!
What can I say? The peat was slightly frozen, my boots crunched and squished into the soft mud below, last year’s heather scratched, moorland tufts of grass tickled, wind found its way inside my collar. My legs ached, my lungs gasped and my heart blew itself wide open with the sheer joy of it all.
I startled moorhens, their throaty cackle echoing across the wide expanse. But other than their indignant call, all was silent. I headed for the huge boulders that dominate the ridge. From the village they appear to be no more than 4 equi-distant piles of stones, but as you climb you realise the might and size of these glacial boulders. The path I’d chosen to climb this morning was the most direct one, practically straight up to Little Chair Stones, where the formation of the boulders provides a ledge tucked away from the wind and up there this morning, the wind was chilly. After days of unseasonable warm weather in this last week of March, that had seen youngsters baring shoulders and legs, I was only just warm enough in thermals and a woolly hat!
I love the walk across the ridge of Boulsworth; the black of the peat, the grey and rust of the coarse grass, the views as far as the Lake District to the North and nothing but moor after rolling moor to the South East. It’s a place to feel alone but never lonely. I leaned on the trig and gazed across to Pendle hill, its outline soft in the morning haze, my first hill at age 3 or 4 and the hill I’d seen in the moonlight above me as I camped out many times with friends in my early teens. Where have all the roaming teenagers gone I thought? Where are the kids building dens and messing in streams. You just don’t see that anymore. Will they one day walk and climb and find joy in the outdoors like me?
“Hello Dad, Hello Mum.” I said out aloud to my long lost parents. I turned and made my way back to a sheltered spot and lost myself in thought as I sipped hot coffee.
Skirting the boggiest bits, with the wind behind my back, I was soon at the start of my descent. The Countryside ranger’s land rover was parked half way up the hill and I remembered choosing my A levels many years ago, Geography, Biology and Maths, because I dreamed of being a forest or countryside ranger. How I ended up as a Finance Director is another story.
Gradually down, all the while with that glorious long distance view of flat topped Ingleborough and the haze clearing from a milky sky. Zig sagging down as Dad taught me many years ago, reaching the old roman road that skirts the moor and leads to Wycollar, I sat upon a big slab of granite that I call my thinking stone and poured another cup of coffee. It was 8am. I’d been up and down a hill. The tension has drained from my body through the soles of my boots into the very earth and as I scribbled ideas for poems in my little notebook, the countryside ranger made his way down the hill in his land-rover and drawing level with me, he wound his window down to say ‘Mornin’ and I grinned and said “Good Morning to you too.” Never a truer word.
If you'd like to hear the birds as I did, for a glorious 2 minutes, please follow this link.