Friday morning saw us on the road heading even further north… towards Ilkley and the moors. We could have been there in a couple of hours on the motorway, but we chose the long way round, going cross country through landscapes that revealed both the wild and the homely beauty of Yorkshire. There comes a point when I will start grinning like a Cheshire Cat. My companion is indulgent… even though we have somehow ended up at my favourite place for his birthday…
We ate, then booked into the Cow and Calf Hotel, already high on the hills. When the first touch of pink kissed the clouds, we were climbing the sodden pathways above the rocks, skirting Backstone Beck, to watch the sun set in the west, gilding the edges of the veiling clouds. There is such magic in feeling the course of the sun in such a place of ancient sanctity. We were in no hurry to leave the moor, in spite of the fading light. It may have been a better path, walking along the moors to the great, looming bulk of the ‘Haystack’ and tracing its enigmatic petroglyphs with a familiar eye…or it may have been an excuse to linger a few moments longer before the darkness closed the moor to us for the night.
The nice thing was though, that we still had something to look forward to that evening… we were finally going to meet James Elkington, a man whose love of the moor matches my own and whose knowledge of it far surpasses my own. It was his photography of a place I love that had first caught my eye. He lives close by and has spent years getting to know the pathways and the mysterious and sacred sites of the ancient past. The last time we had tried to meet, we had missed each other by minutes. This time, the arrangements were clear and… we actually met.
The few hours the three of us spent around that table in the window embrasure seemed to pass in minutes. We none of us stopped talking… and yet barely scratched the surface of the discussions we could have about the area. There are so many places I remember from my childhood that I would be unable to find without a map or a guide. James knows them all. Sadly, James was unable to join us for the planned walk next morning… though hopefully it won’t be too long before we can get back to Ilkley and go out on the moor together. Still… we would be able to get on the moor….