The hills are familiar. I recognise them as if I had them mapped out, like little triangles running along the roads on my map. The snaking road, with its curves and bends and turns, is reminiscent. My memories come back and it all fits perfectly – the stretched out grass fields, sporadic families of trees, the occasional home or farm house, white spots in the faraway that could be cows but it might as well be sheep, a constant rising of earth that goes up at times steeply, at times flatly, going down in often opposite strength. Even the sound of the raging car engine is familiar – though a different car – still a Land Rover.
“I only realised when sorting out my pictures and my blog posts, exactly how much I’ve seen of the Peak District. When planning this trip and going back to my trip of last year, I kept coming across names of places and towns I’ve been. You and S have literally driven us all around the District and I’ve seen so much. Thanks, for that.” I tell M.
If someone were to rob me of my senses, leaving me clueless as to where I am on this world, I would gaze around, letting my sight be overcome with the mighty hills and know – the Peak District.
I knew the road we would take to Buxton for I’ve taken this road before and this road has lead to many other, different places also. But it was different in the sense that it was new, as if I hadn’t been before, yet I knew that I had. I keep thinking how funny it is that I originally stumbled upon this route out of being a cheap ass and finding the cheapest way of transport from Ashbourne to Manchester. When I realised the gem I had discovered – a bus route straight through Peak’s, mum’s going to love that! – it wasn’t hard to make the decision. I hadn’t, nor could I have, realised that whether we showed up beggars or millionaires, we stepped off that bus in Buxton richer than ever.
From here, looking into the distance, they are like whales of moved rocks and sand, or like arched backs of giants of the earth. Their rugged ridges are almost like spread out vertebra and I can’t understand how a simple human would dare to take them up on their taunt to come on over and hike all the way to the top. And why the number of lonesome trees on the tops? Are they the marks of wanderers that made the climb, like natural lamp posts, daylight stars, that signal throughout the day that this mount was conquered? Or are they reminders of how nature works together, how the sea of land can shift until it slides in a triangle manner, an invisible hand pulling a single point upwards until it finds the edges are sharp enough?
King of the mountains is not the lion, but the bird that soars high above the sky, watching over the fluffy dots of white I’ve been told are flocks of sheep.
I imagine quiet steeps and silent reclines, but I’m far removed from it. The combination of the roaring engine of the bus struggling as it carries us up and then over the top of the hills and the howling wind that forces itself through the narrow opened windows that function as the only airconditioning and is welcomed placidly among the passengers, is much like the way you press a sea shell against your ear – persistent and present, thinking you hear the ocean but it’s only an echo of your own existence. We could have soared like the birds that swiftly dive between the crests of the hills, descending down into nature’s bosom, were it not for the fact that we are seated on hard surface and four wheels are carrying us up and down – the bus’ only protest coming from the struggle of the engine.
I am physically in the company of others, but in my mind I am alone and only allow to acknowledge my fellow travellers whenever my eyes meet my mother’s and we exchange the same look – the look of wide-eyed, fulfilled servants that turned to willing slaves and succumbed to the silence that comes with the bewilderment of such stunningness.