On Saturday, Dan and I had the day to ourselves and headed to one of our favourites, Helmsley for a nostalgic pootle around the charming market town and an explore around the North York Moors. I absolutely love being up there and always have. For me a visit to the Moors, no matter the season, is absolute bliss: a real tonic to nourish the soul; a haven of calm quelling the noise in my head and dissipating the demands of our busy days.
When I am on the Moors, I am light, tranquil and dreamy. I could spend hours just gazing at the view, being reminded of the beauty of world we are gifted with. As I breathe in deeply the wonder and grace of the moorland, I feel my shoulders drop, my head lean back and almost feel like I could float above it, swathed in the hold of the cool fresh scented breeze….
It’s not a chocolate box view, it’s not dainty or pretty. Some find the rugged expanse foreboding, but the rolling hills of weathered heather and yellowed grassland are to me safe and secure. I would never feel frightened out there, not even in a lashing storm or darkening night. The craggy climbs are at once brooding and majestic and as I admire the shafts of glowing sunlight pouring into the valleys below, I do feel as though I am witnessing the blessing of God’s own country.
On a Spring day like Saturday, I love looking up to the uninterrupted expanse of a pale watery blue sky stretching far and wide, filled with billowing rolls of cloud leading my eyes to the horizon, amazing me with the breadth and scope of the space around me. I love looking at the detail of the gorse bushes illuminated by the first buds of yellow or marking the different patches on new-born lambs unsure on spindly legs and huddled against their mothers on the roadside. There is no place quite the same.
One of the things I enjoy most about being on the Moors, is the liberating perspective it gives you. I am always reminded of my inconsequentiality. I am reminded of Tess of the D’Urbervilles:
“Not quite sure of her direction Tess stood still upon the hemmed expanse of verdant flatness, like a fly on a billiard-table of indefinite length, and of no more consequence to the surroundings than that fly”.
Yet I find no tragedy in this notion, it comforts me. The mistakes I make are insignificant. I don’t look at this as a perfect excuse, rather a perfect invitation to keep going. Where some might feel this belittles their achievements, I don’t; I recognise that I am part of a much bigger universe but that we all have a role to play and I hope my contributions can ripple out, in ever increasing circles.
When I think of Tess, I also think of the history of the landscape and the many people who have wandered over the heath, characters battling the elements, determining on by foot without the luxuries we have today. The people who have farmed the unforgiving stubborn land, those forced to move from place to place in search of work. The challenges that so many have faced were real and physical. I am reminded of the providence of the life I was born into and filled with a sense of duty to make the most of my own opportunities.
On the Moors I am rooted, tethered to nature, by a past as recent as my grandparents. As a girl they would take me on drives over the hills, asking if I was asleep as I fell into silent reverie, breathless even then at the wonder before me. Filling my head with stories of their adventures as young adults, going to dances at Hutton-le-Hole, Grandma helping herself to gin at the Jolly Sailor, driving merrily from one remote village to another with a car and even a boot full. They would talk too of more idyllic, childhood memories of potato picking season, of dying eggs and rolling them down hills at Easter, of the freedom they had to roam as children. All images of a simpler time….of a life with less material comforts yes but with less expectation, a greater ability to just be and to relish more basic pleasures and I am encouraged to do the same.
Even just writing this, I can feel the sense of space, the quietude, the peace of being on the Moors. If your head is full, I urge you to pay a visit to this splendid place and if you cannot go that far, then find any walk. If you take a good look around you, it is so much more than a breath of fresh air.
ps thank you to Pinterest for the image