A dome of blue seems about to open up above, but cloud thickens. Following the serpentine escarpment edge should be easy but the Lyth Valley is lost in fog and I walk in a small circle of visibility, hair in my eyes, the lockdown motif. Style went a while ago. Few walkers in the fog but I’m not the only one who is loving the evocativeness, the solitude. Almost mid-day but soon after I turn my back on the Lyth Valley the sun begins to bun off the mist and a mass of roiling cloud drifts north with fell-tops peeping through. Cloud is all that I see. Whether mist or mountain it’s all cloud- so no confusion. Cloud- the word signifies craggy fell and atmosphere.
The day is the closest I’ve come to the mountain experience for a while- walking in and above the clouds. For a moment, in the silence, in the solitude there is something primeval about it.
‘Do you walk here every day?’ she asked.
‘Your question suggests that you do.’
We stopped to chat, reflecting upon this odd year, on how this latest lockdown felt compared to spring 2020. Not the same, we agreed. The first felt friendlier, everyone, almost everyone greeted you and wanted to share their story. Everyone came here. On a rainy day, when the weather is poor, there’s almost no one walking, she said. So, it feels different. A weariness has set in, she thought. And she hopes when this odd time is over, when we’re back to ‘normal’, life will be simpler. We’ll have learnt something. What we value. We note the quietness, that we hear birdsong. She hopes people will leave their cars at home, where they can. I hope so. We have learnt there’s much to discover in exploring closer to home. A greener future. No kudos in boasting of long-haul flights: wrecks the planet, spreads the virus. Flying is for birds. I like the sense of community we have experienced this last year, meeting our neighbours. A close-knit community.