Today I took Moe on a walk. She did not have a good long walk yesterday, so I thought a romp in the woods would be fun for both of us, even if it was chilly and sprinkling a little rain.
Because I had plans later in the day I thought maybe an hour or a bit more, so we headed to a favourite place of ours, but took a trail we had not taken before. It appeared flat which was good. Moe could really run between the trees, and would return. It was a short trail that led to another which, I thought, we had taken before, only from the other side. So we followed it. The trail went from flat to straight up. Imagine Quebec City, or San Francisco, only wooded, with no downhill, just up, up, up. Between trees, over exposed roots, through pine groves and birch crofts, passed rocks which stood aloof from the forest rising 10 to 20 feet high. Ferns tall, coming up higher than my knees, covering, hiding Moe. She would stop and stretch up so her head popped above the green foliage to see where I was.
There were huge trees surrounded by much smaller, spindly trees. This was once sheep country. The smaller trees are ‘young’, sheep farming long abandoned, like the stone walls falling down, and cellar holes filled with plant life. Some of the stone walls were feet thick, standing like a raised road coming out of the forest floor, now with trees fallen over them, lying along the length of the wall, shattered; or broken backed having crashed over the wall. Some gaps between the rocks were small enough so only rodents could crawl through, others almost large enough for a lamb to be able to get its head stuck. In other places the wall was down and scattered like a giant marble game, played by some unknown forest creature.
We were not lost. We knew the area we were in, we were merely exploring it more than we had anticipated! Without a map, without a compass, and without water or snacks. Neither Moe nor I had eaten much before the hike. It was going to be a fairly short walk, where water flowed down streams for Moe to drink from. I could wait until we got home.
About two hours later, after an hour and 50 minutes of walking, no, some pretty intense hiking up hill, and up and up, then steep, twisting trails down, and down; tired, wet and sweaty, dehydrated and hungry, we were home. A late lunch and a large cup of tea for me, fresh food and drink for Moe, we had had a lot of fun seeing the things we saw, and imagining what it might have been like to walk these woods when they weren’t woods regularly to tend sheep. Or to live there a thousand years ago, hunting for a meal, or trying not to be hunted yourself!
Images and words, copyright 2016, Simon Brooks