I went for a walk on Hilsborough today; a hill that looms between ourselves and the sea. It is National Trust land and a nature reserve, and at the top is an ancient hill fort, although to the untrained eye or uninformed this is not obvious. I was on my own, OH was otherwise employed doing something mysterious in the garden. It is usually best if I vacate the house when he is doing something mysterious, especially if it is in the garden.
I have walked up this hill many times, although possibly not as many as I should. Today the grass that flanked the accent was meadow-like, dotted with umbellifers and buzzing with life. And there were foxgloves, hosts of foxgloves. As I was unhindered by a co-walker, I headed off my normal route, down an unmarked path and into the woods. I have always felt at ease amongst trees. But as the way began to drop steeply a voice in my head whispered “never give up the high ground”. Naturally I ignored this whining and ventured down, down around a silty series of hairpin bends. “This would be great on a mountain bike”, I thought, which is odd as I have never even owned a bike and am a commensurate coward. Just bravado. It is as well I didn’t say that out loud or I would have had to suffer sniggers.
I passed gnarled thorn trees and banks of ferns, hopped over exposed roots and bedrock erupting effortlessly from the ground and admired lichen and wildflowers. Every so often glimpses of headland and sea were spied through the sycamores. It was still unfamiliar territory, with signposts that told me little except I was on a road to somewhere. And the “going down” was still “going down”. Which of course means “going up” at some point. Life is unfortunately like that. Eventually things began to look familiar and I was striding my way home. I hadn’t doubted it for a moment.
Earlier, before I set off on my expedition into the unknown, I reached a viewing point and looked out to sea. When I was a child my Dad worked in Canada and the USA for several six month stints and we would all miss him terribly when he was away. At the beach I would look out to sea and wave in what I imagined to be the right direction, as a reminder that his family were at home thinking of him. I always think of this when I stand facing the mighty ocean. And I still miss him.
Although this time I could just about glimpse Wales in the distance, so I waved to my Mum and John instead. Not together of course. That would be very scary.