Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Within a landscape of loss

14th April 2013

It’s been quiet on here since last February and part of the cause has been a life event. Within the last few weeks, my aged mother passed away after a short illness. There were other underlying medical problems too so we couldn’t expect the increasingly frail lady to be around forever. Yet, she went quicker than we would have grown to expect. In fact, it was my father who was of greater concern with his nearly dying on us at the start of January. Miraculously, he came from that but still needs round the clock nursing care. That has placed him in a nursing home and it’s not something that he is accepting easily; every so often, we have the pain of him inventing schemes to get away from there and it’s very far from being a bad example of the breed. Loneliness, grief and perhaps a certain amount of homesickness may be behind his ever more desperate and worrying suggestions. He cannot live as he did before so it would be great to see him settle where he is.

It’s at times like these that a good natter with a friend can mean so much, especially someone who intimately knows a little of the situation that is being faced. Also, there’s trotting through the countryside. Most of these are short strolls in nearby parks in Wilmslow and Macclesfield. There is something about purposeful striding that gets stress out of your system (much better than taking it out on someone else anytime) while also allowing a bit of head clearing thinking. Amusing encounters with other folk’s dogs lift the spirit too.

There was a longer trot in the sunshine of last Saturday from Hayfield to Glossop via Coldwell Clough, Kinder Reservoir, William Clough and Doctor’s Gate. It was the prospect of going through a less peopled countryside that was the cause of drawing me there. There wasn’t complete desertion though, even if there was more than plenty of space for everyone. It granted me the long episodes of solitude that allowed for gazing upon the surrounding moorland and dealing with any unevenness in the terrain; the Doctor’s Gate footpath was a little tricky due to subsidence and areas of banked snow, but most of my course was less taxing than this, even those snow banks I found higher up William Clough. Mostly, I wasn’t concentrating much on where my legs needed to travel and more on enjoying the experience of being out and about, of feeling that not all life comes to a stop when a loved one is lost.

Hopefully, there will be more of those longer outdoor escapades. My mother may wonder at where I went but she loved the outdoors too. Scenic parts of counties Kerry and Cork were particular favourites, but Connemara and Wicklow saw their way into her canon as well. She was the one who most appreciated any souvenir volumes of landscape photos that I ever brought as gifts. The last of these that I ever gave to her came from a trip to the Isle of Man, a gift for Mother’s Day. Of special delight to her was the exposure to sea air with many a trip to Irish seaside destinations such as Ballybunion, Beale, Ballyheigue and Banna (all in County Kerry as it happened, and she was a Corkwoman) resulted from this desire. Though I do coastal walking, I have never been a seaside person with my own preferences causing day outings to Gougane Barra and Killarney. In fact, the best ever visit to the latter also had the best weather of a hot sunny Sunday in May 2010. With a decline in my father’s well-being, that was our last such trip like that together and its memories are all the more important now.

It is from my parents that I got the hill country bug that has been the cause of so many excursions. Times may be trying now but they also may be the cause of my getting out and about more too. In times past, it may have caused some conflicts of its own, but the head clearing properties of a good walk are more than apt right now.


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