I seem to be tied with an elastic band to Yorkshire as it pulls me back year after year. Upon my return from one holiday there my heartstrings are pulled taut and as the tug over the months becomes more forceful and relentless back I ping to the county where I grew up.
With an early rise on the day we travelled we successfully managed to avoid the worst of the half-term and Bank Holiday traffic (a national nightmare of school holidays!). As the A1 gloriously rolled its way northwards across the moors my heart fluttered and unconcealed joy shone on my face. A grin that was to last the week took a firm hold. For us all it was as if our souls gave a collective sigh when the locks to the weights of work and school clicked open and lighter, happier we drove to our cottage.
I knew it was remote; just not how remote. Leaving the giant golf-balls of Menwith Hill – one of world’s largest monitoring stations – far behind us we headed North. Now on top of the moors, a slight yelp of panic as familiar civilisation was replaced by complete isolation. No other cars, no mobile reception, just the odd couple of houses here and there grandly sign-posted as a far-flung village. From the main road we turned into a lane, then a smaller lane and finally a gravel track before travelling up a long drive-way taking us up to the cottage. In reverence we stepped out of the car. The vibrant silence struck me first. Total and absolute. In awe I slowly spun around; we were surrounded by the moors with the cottage and the owner’s house nestled in the valley. Then the sounds of nature penetrated my car-weary mind and the baas of the sheep, the tweets from the birds, the rustle of the gentle wind lulled my noisy brain. The tingle of the fresh air glistened upon my skin. Soon in a peaceful solace my husband and I sat outside enjoying the glorious views whilst delighting in the unique combination of home-made fruit cake, local Wensleydale cheese and home-made onion and ginger chutney. All courtesy of the welcome hamper – the most generous I have ever received and despite our best efforts we only managed to make a dent in all its contents during the next few days.
That first night was the most restful and refreshing I have experienced for a long time. If I woke the odd call from the sheep soothed my mind and contentedly I drifted back to sleep. The next morning I opened the curtains and in awe gazed at the surrounding nature – until my hungry chaps (husband and teenage son) started muttering about breakfast… Day after day my eyes feasted on the moors. One day as we took a a two hour drive across the central North Yorkshire moors en route to a tourist destination we encountered treacherous narrow lanes, soul-defying hills, steep road edges. Such amazing stunning scenery. Truly life-enhancing and again and again we stopped for photographs. Three hundred or so photographs later I am still busy sorting.
The beauty was not lost by the odd light shower and through the dismal drizzle we were rewarded as the sunlight pierced the grey/black clouds and radiant sheer light fell upon a patch of moor, beaming its purple hues across the landscape, lighting up the green brilliance of the fields below where sheep were scattered and across the valley hung a ghostly misty haze.
Slowly my heart is returning home, the elastic binding me to the moors is easing gradually and soon body and soul will be rejoined. Then during the year I know the grip will become more fierce, the wrench ever stronger and nothing can keep me from the visual and spiritual wonder of the moors.
‘Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.’
From ‘Keeping Quiet’ by Pablo Neruda.