I arrived early, hot tyres crunching over gravel, pulling into a deserted car park. I killed the engine, the sudden silence loud in my ears, a warm breeze scented with bracken shyly floating in through the open window.
I climb out of the sticky seat, the temperature already rising, this UK summer refusing to back down. Cramped muscles stretch as I throw my handbag in the boot and lock up my new car. It’s our first long trip, me and Mario. The sun glints off his rooftop, diamond in my eyes.
Endless shades of vibrant green carpet the hills leading up to the moor. Grey rocks loom, proud and expectant, drawing me nearer. Far below, a woman whistles and a Labrador bounds to her side, unrivalled joy evident even from here.
I climb and slip and climb some more, dust and shale, parched paths gasping for rainfall. Steep, a shock from the upholstered comfort of the long drive, but welcome. I remove my jacket and stretch my arms to the sky, that warm bracken breeze wrapping itself around my skin, taking me further upwards.
I reach the top of the path but hold myself back from the lure of the view. One foot in front of the other, I pick my way along the top of the rocky outcrop and stand, feet right on the edge, nothing below me but rock and then nothingness, the stone cutting sharply back into the hillside, a gap, the void underneath filled with light.
Only here do I raise my eyes. Only here do I feel that immense view hit me with full force, like I knew it would.
All those greens, stretching out in front of me, an vast spectrum lit up by the bright sunlight. My eyes hungrily drink it in, my senses on fire, a brain clamouring with joy at just being here, being alive in this world, feeling my feet connected with the solid ground and my hair tousled in the ever moving air. I stand and breathe in deeply, as if to draw the scene into me, deep into my self and replay it over and over.
I turn away, dragging my attention from the hugeness stretching out as if for ever. I bring my sight nearer, picking out smaller detail, a world living together but separate. A kestrel perches on a rock, hip height, a small, clear stream babbling around the stone. It sees me, bumbling human, and soars into the air, flash of brown and grey and a high, keen call. It circles lazily overhead, directing scorn for my way of movement, loud and crashing compared to the lightness of animals. I watch it distance itself from me then hang, scouring the ground, still in the sky, only a wingbeat.
The stream gurgles over pebbles and peat and I dip a trainer toe in, just because.
Wandering back through waist-high bracken, I smell childhood adventures, tall tales and taller plants. More people are about now, in those few moments, single souls and canine friends, the need to be above the valley inexplicable in all of us, yet so real.
Mario waits for me, warm, metallic and mine. A 20 minute jump into a different time, a different space. I turn the engine and a small spell shatters. I look back, a sliver of a moment, and then we head off, Mario and me. We head back to go about our day.