You are already ‘on’ the moor once you reach the hotel… that is the beauty of the place for a weekend such as this. Good food, ale and wine, comfortable rooms and you have only to cross Hangingstone Lane to be on Rombald’s Moor. When the heather is still in flower on your doorstep and the sharp scent of bracken hangs in the air, there is nowhere like it.
By the time we finally arrived, our companions for the weekend had begun to gather. We found them at ‘our’ table in the gardens of the hotel from where we could sit and look at the Cow and Calf. As others would soon be joining us, I didn’t set foot on the moor itself that day. Perhaps that was the problem; I usually manage enough time to greet the stones and feel that unique spring in the earth beneath my feet. At that moment, it didn’t matter. We were there.
We were there until the sun sank into the soft pastels I love. We were still there when the light blazed above the rocks, setting molten flame in the clouds as night swallowed the landscape and hid all trace of time from sight. We could have been any-when… eyes in the darkness fixed on timeless glory.
The Cow and Calf rocks have to be one of the most recognisable geological features in Yorkshire. The Cow is a massive outcrop with an almost circular natural enclosure within it. I remember my grandfather suggesting it could have been used as a fortress. Now he had been a soldier, but it always seemed daft to me that anyone would barricade themselves into an arena from which missiles of every shape and size could be rained upon their heads. Certainly, the steep sides would provide shelter from the wind and it could have been used to contain livestock… You have only to walk these moors a little while, though, to realise that this is a unique feature and must have been seen as such. A ledge within makes a perfect stage and I have heard the echoing of a paean to the sun within its walls. That felt right… from the entrance you face the sunrise.
It had been a long day and we had covered many miles since sunrise. Dinner was a late and leisurely meal. We were joined by the last of our companions to arrive and we rose from the table well fed and about ready for bed. This was a shame as I missed an unexpected meeting with a friend. My head hit the pillow and I knew nothing more till the pre-dawn light woke me. Now I would get up onto the moor…