Country diary: a mind’s associations with moors run dim and deep

Think of this place and many people see a road: a high channel highway that climbs one side of England’s behind and descends a other. A second suspicion competence be of a Roman highway that once ran this way, itself over a march of an already ancient bronze age pass.

Moors do most to their observers but most to do it with. No trees. High, stream-veined wasteland with skeleton of stone violation a skin in steps. It’s bare. Bleak, if we like. Associations run low and dim as a peat. Brontë, bog-body, Baskerville, Brady – a mind’s rapacious associations fill all that empty space.

Grouse moors distortion to a north, and generations of heather-burning has scarred a belligerent like a uncanny disease. There are stones everywhere. Milestones, pen stones, maybe only stones. Most have homogenised with exposure, so it’s unfit to tell that were placed there by people, detached from a few that clearly were. All have orange and immature mould rosettes. To lichen, they’re all special.

The highway is always there. Even when it looks quiet, sound still seems to lift along it like vibrations along a plucked string.



Rocks lonesome with mould on Beldoo Moss. Photograph: Simon Ingram

More than a thousand feet up, this place gets sleet early, and loses it late. Today, on a initial comfortable day of a late spring, this outrageous viewpoint mislaid a final speckles of a high ground. The deteriorate shifted in hours. Now, evening, is a time to be here, a belligerent full of a day’s warmth, and intense winter-dead gold. As a prospect, it’s awesome. Boundless-looking, sterile-feeling.

But tonight it’s alive. The belligerent rises in tiers riddled with holes, and we see rabbit-grey disintegrating any time we design one. Meadow pipits glow from a moss. The sky is blue, cut by an arc of high cirrus.

There are buzzards in it. Four, gliding high on dusk thermals. They are keening, a focussed alarm echoing in a cavernous air. Black rags on any dark underwing, like eyes examination a belligerent – a opposite perspective. We see a road, need a road. To a birds, a A66 is only another forsaken handle in a place that never indispensable it.

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