I’m sitting on a rough ledge, dusted white and overlooking a sheer drop. The sun is warm against my back, which is a truly unexpected kind of hug, especially here in the U.K. Wind roars past in frantic gusts, drowning out the periodic buzz of the crickets. When I catch the sound, like the spokes of a bicycle spinning as they catapult someone across the world, I think about the twisting roads that snake around these endless, sloping mountains, and how perfectly terrifying they would be to race along.
As I gaze out towards the view, I see dry-stone walls criss-crossing irregularly, climbing the hills in clumsy curves. They form squares, like the endless fields back home, but unlike those more familiar patches of greenery, these cross sections of land contain little more than scattered rocks and pale grass. People march too and fro along the path down at the basin of the valley, glancing up at the sheer faces of cold rock either side. I like to think they can see me up here, away from my home. I like to think that they would wave back at me, if I cared to try.
The sounds of the crickets catch my ear yet again, just making sure I know they’re still there. A wasp hovers around me absentmindedly, checking I have no petals or stem, before jetting off to find a more entertaining stop. I suddenly notice a small, purple flower just by my side. The way it stands strong beneath the battering of the wind is impressive, to say the least. It’s yet another brilliant dash of the unexpected out here in this hilly nowhere.
We’ve all come out here for a reason, I think, as a child in the valley below is held aloft by their parent. That jogger, leaping over discarded stone, the old woman pushing herself further than she should probably go, the hikers, all rucksacks, pots and pans. We’re all here, in this place, away from home. Not everyone’s come as far as me, but some have no doubt come further. Even the people who haven’t still stepped out of their front door in the knowledge tired bones and aching feet would be their reward. Why do so many of us bother?
Rolling hills peeking over the horizon cast a stunning tableaux of scattered villages and painted peaks. It’s almost unsettling, despite itself. That’s the world, the awesome, ever expanding world. Corners like this ledge, even as they cause pain and exhaustion to reach, are endangered in a peculiar sort of way. This magical, excruciating, difficult place might not be around forever. Once home to primeval silence, now to restless souls in search of an escape, we can’t let go of these little getaways so easily. They’re important, and they’re necessary, and most of all they’re just beautiful.
The cricket speaks up again, and I sigh, turning away from the self important sing song of my mind, and towards this invisible interloper. We have to share this place, the cricket and I. I’m sure both of us would prefer it if things were different, but in the end, he’s not so bad. We watch the world together, apart from it, in this not so distant hiding place. We watch the world together, and on it goes.