Today, we hiked in a cloud. We rose out of Osmotherley, where we enjoyed our best trail dinner thus far, and rejoined the Coast to Coast as it entered into the North Yorkshire Moors. From then on out, fog surrounded us. Wainwright describes today’s terrain as one of the most open and wild sections of the trail, yet our world was small and quiet. The water hanging in the air deadened the noise of the highway far below and created an eery, blustery silence shattered only by our voices and the carbide tips of our trekking poles grating harshly against the hard sandstone of the path. Our world was quiet.
Our path wound through a forest, with dense trees hemming the path. Yet, this world was far more alive than the hilltops we had descended from. Birds and other small critters had gathered in the wood to outlast the storm. The soprano of their mutterings and murmurings shrill against the din of rain. Nestled under branches or underground, they waited for the cloud to move on. For us, the rain fell heavier here, collecting in the canopy of leaves above us before crashing to the ground below. The wind sent cascades of water down as we passed under trees young and old. Soon, our path left the forest, returning to the unsheltered heights above.
As we climbed over ridges, the wind rose up to greet us. It pressed hard from the northeast, peppering the left side of our bodies with tiny droplets of water. In such moments, the pitter patter of raindrops disrupted the silence of our misty world. Never oppressive, but ever present.
Such moments reminded us of how thankful we are for the advancements in Goretex and other breathable membrane fabrics being used today. We were dry, which is more than I could say for the world around us. Everywhere we looked, water clung to the plants, the rocks, or the animals. The moors, normally blanketed in purple heather, were covered in a what appeared to be a twinkling pink flower. Peering through the mist, this flower turned out to be a simple plant with no real color that grew among the heather. Yet fastened to each branch were countless droplets of water, refracting the deep colors of the heather beyond. Each watery sphere twinkled in the muted light of the day. Such a delicate balance of simplicity adorned with shimmering beauty.
On occasion, windows formed in our misty world, allowing us to peek out at the Vale below with its far off fields of green and gold. These views were fleeting and constantly in motion as the wind pushed them out of sight just as quickly as it had created them. Once they passed, we were alone once more with each other and the heather. Even the sheep were few and far between. Since we left St. Bees, they have been our most consistent audience, giving us quizzical looks as we pass by. Today, we saw few. We were alone.
Late in our walk, we came upon a sea of dark pillars rising out of the mist: The Wainstones. These dark protrusions from the heather stood as sinister obelisks in the shifting mist, conjuring memories of dark, turreted fortresses. The cluster of spiky rocks provided shelter from the gusts of wind and the beads of water that danced upon them. They marked the end of our day. Soon after, we descended from our cloud, returning to the muted colors of the world below.