I was thinking about one of my favourite places today, and while for me it is the high moors, there are other things to see in Ilkley. As a child I used to love stepping off the train into the old station, knowing there would be perhaps the visit to the church with the Roman altar to Verbeia. Or maybe we would walk down to the river and skim pebbles on the water. Or visit the stepping stones.
Most of the time, though, we would walk up through the little garden that borders the stream, popping the ripe seed heads of the balsam and watching the tiny projectiles fire incredible distances. Even then it felt wrong to make them pop. They had to be ready to explode at a mere touch.
As the hill rose higher, so did the Victorian mansions beside the road, until, with a final burst of pride, they gave way to the green and gold of the moors.
The next adventure was to choose which way. Go right and there was the long walk to the pool above Heber’s Ghyll, not quite big enough to swim, but enough to bathe in the cold, clear water. Beyond that stood the Swastika Stone, with its strange fire symbol, overhanging the moor edge.
We could go straight up.. there was White Wells and the old pool there, steeped, for a child in mystery. And once upon a time a café with a wooden veranda where we would get frothy Horlicks and share a table with the wandering sheep. Then we could go higher up the moor to the lonelier areas away from the tourists, where prehistoric petroglyphs were waiting to be found once more, barrows lie quiet and stone circles lie unnoticed in the heather.
Or we could go left, maybe up through the Giant’s Skirtful, past the hidden altar and beyond the Cow and Calf to my special place by the Haystack with its hidden, double circle of stones and the Giant’s head watching over the valley below.
And, of course, it didn’t matter. There was, perhaps, a pang of regret for a moment as we set off in one direction when I had hoped to go in another, but all the pathways led to wonders over a land I love. For me the whole area is magical and alive with legends.
But the land does not end at the edge of the moors, nor do the wonders. Many paths lead down from the high places, Like the rays of a star taking many directions towards a myriad destinations. The roads, paths and lanes are all joined somehow, as if there is only one road through the entire landscape, a labyrinth inviting the footsteps of the traveller, and all the roads lead to where the heart longs to be.
Life, it seems, does the same thing. Wherever we start, no matter what roads we take, we always end up where we are going. We may take a circuitous route or a straight one, we may change our minds along the way and think we have taken a different road, but really, they are all One, and all roads lead Home in the end.
SCIONS OF ALBION
Book Three of the Doomsday Series
Stuart France & Sue Vincent
“There had better be a damn good reason for all this…”
Wen has a plan and a dangerous glint in her eye. The crowbar and air rifle are not reassuring. Neither is the presence of a black-clad figure in the back seat of the car…
Albion, a land where standing stones choose to disappear and time itself is unreliable. Ancient stone, Norse gods, and the legendary staff of Joseph of Arimathea… Don and Wen are back on the trail, delving deep into mythology and symbolism to unravel the secrets of the Old Ones.
This time they are not alone. What is the mysterious Black Shade that haunts them as they seek answers to arcane riddles in a magical landscape.
And why is Ben wearing a balaclava?