Sunday, August 1, 1982

Silent hills

Sheet grey torrential Sunday morning skies. We were going on a hike, but Robert had a huge blister on his heel from walking home again last night so he couldn’t come with us.

Mum, Dad, and I set off in a mood to match the weather, parking at Busk Falls, the rain still spattering onto the car windscreen. We had a look round the twelfth century church with its squat, almost ugly bulk crouched behind a short tower. We bumped into a probation officer acquaintance of Dad who destroyed Dad's hopes for a future probation-officer job with a pessimistic and comfortless realism. As we trudged off on our walk Mum was close to tears.

We clomped up a narrow winding lane through Lowbrough, Stakethorne amid lovely limestone landscapes of boulders and stunted scrubby trees, the grass clipped lawn-short by rabbits and sheep. We leveled out onto a broad plateau crossed by tumbled walls and dotted with rocks, on our left the gaping eye socket blackness of Haw Cave beckoning high among limestone outcrops.

As we crested a rise we saw Swinmoss stone circle, which is hardly a circle at all with scarcely half-a-dozen members: the standing stones are short, round and split like broken teeth. It looked more impressive from a distance, nestling under a white wall side.

It was sticky and very humid as we climbed up to meet Scar Lane which snaked away across the hazy slopes towards Oaklass. Swinmoss calls itself the “smallest town in England” (there are only two houses, plus associated barns and outhouses), and here we blundered a bit, getting lost. As Mum struggled up the hill from Swinmoss she said she felt “shattered” so we took the last three homeward miles to Lowbrough easy, pausing a long time on the hilltop limestone clints and again past classic fractured rock outcrops by Haw Cave. We climbed up to its dark entrance and gazed out over the timeless fields and deathly silent hills.

I'm going to write in this journal only when the mood takes me so as to escape the daily grind of having to think up what to write. Some days I just don't feel moved. Hopefully by doing this the writing will improve and it’ll be more interesting for me to read.

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