“Stay out of the heather…” That was the final injunction before I set off for the north. Both of us knew that wasn’t going to happen. I only had about an hour before our rendezvous, but an hour in heaven is a gift not to be ignored. I parked the car for the fourth time in less than a mile and went out to play.
There are twin streams falling from beneath the road here, meeting in the steep-sided valley after tumbling down the hillside. There colours are intense in the dull light. Even the water… golden in the sunlight, black in the shade, stained with the earth through which it travels… earth made from centuries of heather and bracken that responds to each footfall, carrying you lightly. It is the most comfortable and intimate thing to walk upon that I know.
The stone feels like home. I believe there is a resonance, a particular ‘note’ in the geology of a place… a kind of tuning fork for the heart… and while certain places may sing to us with their beauty, others call heart and soul forth to join the harmony of a song that never leaves you and by which all others are measured.
From a distance the stone of this landscape looks dark and grey. A little closer and it comes to life, sparkling with crystalline flecks of quartz. Even the eroded stone that sands the pathways glitters in the light. Fairydust? Who needs it? The earth holds magic enough…simply to walk in such beauty makes the heart take flight.
From where I was standing on Burbage Ridge I could look over at Higger Tor and Carl Wark, an enigmatic site we have yet to visit properly. Although the earth is all the same age, some places feel more ancient than others. This is one of them. Perhaps it is the fact that the hand of modern man has been gentle here, perhaps it is the footfall of our most distant forefathers that whispers softly in the bracken. The land feels alive in a way that is lost when it is buried under asphalt and concrete and something within responds with a vibrant joy.
The city isn’t far away…indeed, we are right on its fringes here, so with ten minutes left before the appointed time I headed back to the car, reluctant to leave, yet eager to see my friend and settle down to a long evening of conversation… knowing full well that next morning, the heather and the hills would be waiting for us. You can’t ask more from a moment than that.