Friday, October 1, 1982

Dark in the sun

Dad and I had a last outing together. We went to Bethany and took The Harp of the Sky with us to retrace Charles Herbert’s final struggle at Tunscarr Edge (it's in Harp as “Anwell’s Craig”).

At Tunscarr Manor we took a stony walled lane which headed up onto the moor. Dad found a newt. We then had to head across rough grassy hummocks, past a derelict farm, over broken walls to a narrow path that clung to the valley side as it disappeared around the shoulder of a hill below the Edge. This steep-sided, forgotten valley is called Glenbeth. It was dark and bleak and at the valley head we crossed a stream and climbed sheer decaying steps up to the Edge itself, its black granite towering above the bracken-choked slopes.

I got the impression that despite its notoriety, there are few visitors. At the top we looked out over the narrow valley below: a huddle of trees marked the Manor. The distant green fields were dotted with white farm buildings. The day she was last seen, Vaughan said she was going to walk to the Edge, and I searched half-seriously for some carved inscription or long-forgotten memento hidden away in a crevice but I didn't find anything. There was no wind and everything was silent save for the burbling water below: behind the Edge, the moorland swept away toward Lancashire and we had enticing glimpses of waterfalls and rock outcrops silhouetted on the horizon. I like this type of country better than the Dales; it's what I’ll remember in my darker hours at Watermouth.

I took a small lump of rock as a souvenir: perhaps one day, when I’m older and everything is worked out and I’m established as something, I’ll come back here and return the rock to its home. “You should do it when you're successful” Dad said (whatever that meant). I think he was referring to money but I mean something like happiness. I don’t know what I want out of my life.

On the walk back we stopped to admire the Edge from a distance and the sadness of leaving really struck me. A skylark burst from a rock nearby, the valley was dark in the sun, the wind was blowing, and I thought of how all this will still be here, so free and windswept while I'm four hundred miles away.

I felt pessimistic in the evening, homesick already, even though I haven’t gone yet!

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