When I think of England I think of the moors, for often have I walked the boggy paths that trace winding trails through purple heather and browning bracken. Far from the hussle-bussle of surging city life, the moors offer such peaceful tranquility that the linnet’s song and the bumblebee’s hum can easily be discerned. And when I stand on a moorland high surveying the vales below, I pick out the solitary farms, and follow the meandering lines of dry-stone walls, and pause with my face to the wind.
Such peaceful harmony, however, is not always the painted picture. The writer’s pen and the artist’s brush often show moors to be dark, forboding places where thick fogs conceal sinister crimes. And when seen in shadow, sulking beneath low-hanging clouds, it’s easy to understand why. Then, it’s heaven help the unprepared walker caught out in torrential rains.
As the old song goes:
‘Tha’s gonna (you are going to) catch the death of cold
On Ilkley moor, bah t’at (without a hat) ’.
England’s moors stretch up through the land from Dartmoor, in the south-west, to the North Yorkshire moors. Although Somerset’s Exmoor gets my personal recommendation, due to it’s green-sided valleys where stags stand motionless in morning mists and wild horses casually drift, the moors of Derbyshire I know best having climbed their craggy plateaus and jumped their clear streams more times than I can remember.
Yes, when I think of England, I think of the moors.