I just spent a weekend in a cottage with no TV, no Internet and surrounded by hills. I could have stayed for a month or three. This, coming perhaps surprisingly from a blogging, tweeting, instagramming, facebooking chap. It’s really very nice to just sit quietly and read a book or have some thoughts. Although I’m not that good at sitting still actually, as Anita kept telling me. But I tried to do some ‘mindfulness’. Then realised maybe you just have to be mindful.
I got into the mindfulness groove a bit more up on Moel Penamnen. The things I was mindful of:
– Both my boots are leaking now
– that wind really is very strong
– my achilles tendon has been aching a lot on the last few walks
– the clag up here just isn’t going to lift is it?
Last Saturday I completed the last 12 miles of the 87 mile Ridgeway Trail (actually, 14 or so by my reckoning, when I count some off-track wandering in the Chiltern woods). A day I’d been looking forward to for a couple or three reasons:
- it marked the end of the trail (if you go with The Ridgeway being up to Ivinghoe Beacon and not the whole ‘Greater Ridgeway’ that stretches 363 miles from Dorset to Norfolk). It’s always nice to tick a goal off a list and all that.
- the day started in Wendover, my old home town. Well, Halton RAF base next door was the actual location of the ten or so houses we lived in over the years – but Wendover is definitely more of home-town shaped location.
- most importantly, I was hooking up with my daughter Lian at Tring, around the 9 mile mark, so she could escort her old man up to the beacon (which is the site of an iron age fort).
I stumbled across a tree stump a couple of weeks ago, which was remarkable, as the higher parts of the Marsden Moor estate are now a treeless landscape. That wasn’t the case 6000 or 7000 years ago. I know that because peat is everywhere; testament to the fibrous disintegration of tree trunk and branch, leaf and root as well as grasses and moss.
I’ve seen bits of wood sticking out of some of the peat channels and cloughs during my wanderings over various parts of the moor. Some of it so well persevered through lack of oxygen, buried feet below the surface, that you can tell it’s birch by the still-visible white bark. Those branches or roots are occasionally exposed through the action of water and peat bog creep. Continue reading