|Scafell and Broad Stand as seem from Scafell Pike.Photo by Steve Partridge (see references).|
|Me in my natural habitat on Hallin Fell, Lake District.|
It seems so dramatic that you might think I must be lying, but genuinely - especially now that I spend most of my time in a city - one of the first things I do once I'm in the mountains is stop still in my tracks, close my eyes, take a big lung-full of sweet fresh air, feel the wind rush past me, and just breathe. Just this simple act floods me with a sense of serenity. When I was little, my family even had a special destination for this: on the long drive up to the Lakes, we would stop after about three hours in a lay-by, get out of the car, and breathe in Northern air, rolling in across the Pennines. Whatever the weather, we would do this.
For me and my family, perhaps this sense is something archaic - it may be that, even when I'm on my own, I find so much peace in landscapes like this because I associate them with the people I love most, and the experiences that unite us. Equally, perhaps it's the tie between physical exertion - which can be hard to find in a natural way, one outside of the gym and concrete jungles of our world - and elation. Perhaps it's the incredible success I feel at the summit of a mountain; the satisfaction of achieving a goal and looking down from the height of your achievement back over where you've come. Perhaps it's artistry, inspiration found from the landscape for words and paintings and photography. Perhaps it's detachment from the 'real world', into somewhere where I need my brain to stay safe and concentrate on the task of the climb, and I feel that the stress of the rest of my life is far away. Perhaps, it's simply because I want to see the view.
|Surprise View, Derbyshire.|
The culture surrounding British mountain climbing, particularly in the areas that I know, and especially in the Lake District, is possibly one of my favourite things. Everyone is so friendly - really, genuinely friendly - and when you look at other people, how you feel is reflected on their faces. There's a sort of collective sense of achievement and wonder that is almost tangible, and though I don't know the people, don't speak to them past maybe are "how're you", I feel united with them. Also, there are dogs everywhere, like, absolutely everywhere - and I love dogs.
I could write forever about the mountains of England, but I suspect that's enough for one post. I will say, though, how much joy it brings me that I'm not alone in my adoration, and how glad I am that the community of fell walkers within whom I feel so included, are as defensive as I am about the protection of these landscapes.
The world is changing, and we need to stand up for the places we love the most.
|View from Glaramara, Lake District.|
Coleridge: A Long Walk – and a Broad Stand. Ronald Turnbull.
Broad Stand photo: Geograph