Monday, October 01, 2007

A good walk

Hiking has always seemed to me like an endurance test with beauty as a side dish. Sometimes the serenity, the solitude and the views are worth it. Sometimes the seasoning seems flat.

Today I and a dozen fellow walkers covered 6 ½ to 7 miles on the moorland of Lancashire, in the Forest of Boland. It’s one of 41 preservation areas designated for its natural beauty.

Our trek took us through muck – it rains 80 inches per year here – up rocky streambeds, over heather-covered hills, along country lanes past cows and black-faced sheep. Through and area of mossy, peat marsh and tall grass that felt, as one of my fellow ramblers put it, like walking on cotton candy.

Was it worth it? On this fine day, yes.

But it wasn’t just the views that stretched for miles – all the way to Pendle Hill,
where herbalist women were once burned at the stake and where, in 1652, George Fox had a vision that led to the creation of the Quaker faith. Or the remoteness that led to a six-week delay between the end of World War I and the transmission of that news to a farm tucked into the hillside here.

It was all that we learned about the area from our guides, David Padley, and Paul Greenall, of the Lancashire County Council’s countryside service.

The dry stone walls that have stood for centuries are built without mortar, wedged into place by through stones and by placing the large ones at the bottom – a ton of stones per yard of fence. Some 75 percent of all the world’s heather grows in Britain, and this is one of it’s strongholds, providing a rare habitat for the endangered owl eagles; 17 of the world’s remaining 20 breeding pairs live here.

Beautiful. But for this desk warrior, a double cocktail of Aleve is in order.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see an Irish terrier :)
Do you know who it belongs to?