Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Moorland

The wind caught her hair as she drove the open-topped car down the slip-road. She was pleased to be leaving behind the busy dual-carriageway and its hoards of day-trippers, all making their way, lemming-like, to the coast.

The road rose slowly up from the verdant, fertile Vale of York. Up through fields and sleepy hamlets, to the market town of Pickering. It was a pretty drive; the hedgerows lined with tall rosebay willowherb and cow parsley. In the fields, delicate scarlet poppies bloomed, profusely, among the tall, golden stalks of wheat. The farmers would curse, but it looked so beautiful. It was very hot; the sun beat down, mercilessly and rivulets of tar ran off the road and lay in dark, glistening pools by the road-side. It would be cooler up on the moors.

She drove through Pickering and took a minor road. A rugged ascent up the escarpment and onto the Dalby plateau. Hare's-tail and sheep's sorrel were abundant in the fields and the broad-leaved trees such as sycamore and beech, gave way to hawthorn, hazel and briar scrub. In the Autumn, blackberries would stain the local children's fingers purple, but now, blossom still clung to the bushes and butterflies and bees were busy, flitting from flower to flower.

At the crest of the hill the road divides and the wider, more important route, leads to Scarborough and all the faded, genteel Victorian buildings of a typical seaside town. It passes the fascinating and peculiar hollow, known as the " Hole of Horcum" and then wends onwards to Whitby. Ah, that lovely picturesque town, with its hauntingly beautiful ruin of an Abbey, its steep-sided, cobbled streets and fishing boats moored in the harbour.

But she did not take this route. She preferred the road "less travelled". She wanted to find somewhere far removed from the tourists. She wanted to be alone. And so she steered the little car down a narrow road that was barely more than a track. It was much stonier than the main road and the car bounced and swayed as she headed, slowly, across the moors.

She loved this place. To the casual, untrained eye, it could sometimes appear desolate and bleak, but she knew that foxes, badgers and little lizards were hidden among the crags on the hillsides and ling and bracken covered the ground in thick pink and green drifts. Here, the oranges and purples of gorse and heather were more beautiful than any formal, Chelsea Flower Show, display. Nature, hearty, raw and wild ! Here there was no guile, no artifice.

The broad floors of the moorland valleys are occupied by small streams and, today, they tinkled and bubbled and sparkled like silver ribbon, in the hot Summer sun. But she had seen them become raging torrents; tumbling and crashing over the rocks as rain, or melting snow, sent the water rushing towards the foss* and the rivers far below these lonely moors.

She passed the cutest little cottage, no doubt a sheep farmer's abode. Its barns and outhouses were weather-beaten but the walls of the house were whitewashed and the garden was full of bright flowers. A picket fence surrounded the pretty garden, to protect the plants from the roaming, moorland sheep. But huge, drowsy, pink cabbage roses hung their fragrant heads over the boundary and two intrepid lambs were nibbling at the drooping stems.

By now, her head was throbbing. The sun was high in the sky and she needed to stop, to rest, to think. She pushed down, hard, on the accelerator and the engine roared and carried the little car, swiftly up the steep track and back onto the top of the moor. There was an area of ground that had been made into a rough sort of lay-by and, here, she brought the car to a halt and unbuckled her seat belt. Beside the road there were some grey outcrops of stone, marbled with lichen and moss. She got out of her vehicle and leaned against the cool rock as she sipped from her water bottle. Taking a sandwich from her tiny picnic hamper, she gazed around at her surroundings. A sky-lark high in the cloudless, blue sky and a startled red grouse, that fluttered and bustled its disapproval, were her only companions. She was master of all she surveyed.

At last she had found a place to think,to mull things over in her head. She had been feeling trapped, pulled hither and thither by opposing forces; torn between two choices. Here, where everything was simple; no phones, no internet, no distractions. Here she could make a decision.

*foss .... a waterfall.


The above piece is my offering for this week's Countdown Word Game. This is the game that was invented by Matt and details can be found on his page at http:/miblodelcarpio.blog.co.uk

This week, the words to be included were;

REMOVED, HEARTY, MASTER, CUTEST, BLOOMED, ORANGES, HAMPER, STONIER, BOUNCED, THROBBING


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