The track is mine and I enjoy the novelty of walking without the expectation of seeing anyone. I’m alone with the sound of my feet crunching stones on the track and birds going about their business above. A herd of deer scatter on the hillside to my left, a rabbit bounds away through the wood. A solitary sheep fixes me with a steely gaze. For the first time in the walk, I feel like I’m properly testing myself in this unfamiliar terrain.
The track climbs and splits, echoing the behaviour of the watercourses, which fragment into their tributaries. Tracks on the ground that are not shown on the map. But the streams are, and navigation switches from the man-made to the natural. The chosen allt gurgles over the large stones in its bed as it joins with its sibling. I head upwards with the allt carving and curving its way through the darkened heather.
As I gain height, the view opens up, ahead and all around me a sea of yellows, browns and some greens. A cloud-broken blue sky overhead. Nothing man-made spoils the view, although the course of man across the moor is clear to see.
Channels mark the slopes ahead, the paths of long-forgotten streams or signs of the peat fragmenting, and signalling more difficult walking to come. The stream splits again and I eventually find the right fork. Navigation is less straightforward. Everything looks the same here, yet at the same time there’s infinite variation. A stare at any segment reveals abstract patterns that mesmerize and threaten to disorientate.
No people, nothing to do except make my own progress across its expanse, no easy escape, no comforts of home within easy reach. To some The Moor is a vast mono-coloured expanse of homogeneity. To me it is a riot of earthy colours, patterns and textures.
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