Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

i have visited so many places
each a painting in my mind i
return to, remembering the
beauty and isolation i felt stood
still, alone, surrounded by water,
trees, rock and earth, talking to
me, taking me to far away places
i never knew existed, clearing my
overwhelmed mind of the daily
stresses of life, helping me realise
my place in the world, a world i feel
i belong to in this place pf peace and
solitude where i can reflect and
ponder on the wonder of nature
amongst the raw and wild landscape
where i find my place in my heaven

This poem was inspired by my friend Rachel Lumb and her landscape paintings. This one is Morning, Heptonstall Moor.

More of Rachel’s paintings can be seen here:


Last Friday I did one of my more extreme runs, a run up to Alcomden Stones on the moor above Top Withens near Haworth. This was a planned run as I had checked the weather forecast and knew that heavy snow was forecast. With Alcomden Stones being high up and exposed I guessed that this would be my last chance to see them covered in snow for a while as spring and warmer temperatures come closer. I wasn’t sure how much snow there would be but looking out of my back window there was a decent covering so I assumed there would be a bit up on the tops.
On the drive up to Penistone Country Park I could see the snowline on the moors and knew I had made the right decision in going for a run. For me there is something special about running in snow that other weather conditions don’t have. I think it’s the fact that we don’t get snow very often and the way it changes the landscape and what you thought you knew makes it so special to run in. Clag (fog) is my next favourite as again everything changes and takes on a new perspective when you can’t see very far in front of you.
I parked up and knew that this was going to be a very different snow run to the day before when it was bright sunshine and stunning views for miles. The wind was blowing hard and visibility was limited even at Penistone. The top of the moor was obscured in a snowstorm but this didn’t put me off as this area is one I know really well and I was confident of my ability to navigate in bad conditions and be able to keep going if the weather worsened.
Soon I was running along the trail and through ice cold water. It’s a shock for a couple of seconds and then you get used to it. You have no choice but to if you want to run off road in winter. On the trail that leads to the Bronte waterfalls the snow was falling heavier and I still couldn’t see Top Withens as I can on a clear day. I was running well but being careful as the path was wet and ice could be concealed anywhere. The thought of falling and injuring myself wasn’t a very appealing one. I knew that if I did it could be a long time before I was rescued, and the cold conditions would make things worse. I had packed my emergency sleeping bag just in case.
I stopped at the Bronte waterfalls and bridge to take some photos. The waterfall was in full flow which doesn’t happen very often, and the bridge was glistening wet even in the gloomy conditions of the snowstorm. Over the bridge and up the hill to the path at the top of the moor that takes you to Top Withens. At the end of the path I could finally see Top Withens coming into view. It was hidden in the snowstorm but was beginning to appear from the gloom. I ran along the path as fast as I dared but I was happy with my progress. At the end the final climb loomed into view and I walked up to Top Withens.
Top Withens looked very dramatic in the conditions standing out like a dark monolith against the swirling white backdrop. It took on a sense of foreboding that it doesn’t normally have in better conditions and I knew that this view alone was worth coming for as it’s not a view very many people get to see. I took some photos of the house before I set off climbing again to my destination, Alcomden Stone high up on the moor.
The trail to Alcomden Stones was just visible and I began my climb to the top of the moor in deep snow. At the top the moor levels, out and I was able to pick up pace and even run in parts. I was running on memory and hoping that I was going in the right direction. A dark, grey object stood proud of the ground against the snow and I had reached the trig point on the moor. Relived, I could now see the stones a short distance away and I began to run towards them.
The snow on the top was deep. Grip wasn’t a problem but moving fast was because it was deep. I made good progress despite the deep snow and soon I was at the stones and able to take in how different they looked with a layer of snow on them but still looking bleak and black against the white and grey surrounding them. I took some photos of the stones and had a look at the path that takes you down to Ponden Kirk. I know there is a path there, I have run it in the past, but today I could see a start and an end but nothing inbetween apart from snow covered heather. I decided it would be too dangerous to try and run across this today as one wrong step and I could be knee deep in freezing cold water and a sprained ankle or worse.
I turned around and started my run back to Penistone Country Park. The weather had noticeably worsened by now. The wind had picked up and tore my jacket hood off my head. I carried on with droplets of ice hitting my face and head. My footprints had already been covered by snow and I was again running on memory and instinct. I made it to the trig point without any problems but then I started on the right path back to Top Withens and then convinced myself I was going the wrong way and went back to the trig point only to realise I had been going the right way in the first place.
I carried on this path and soon I could see the tops of the two trees next to Top Withens and I knew I was safe and off the top of the moor. At the house I could see the weather was changing for the better and snow was already disappearing in the short time I had last been here. The rest of the run back to Penistone was nice but uneventful. I kept a steady pace watching out for any ice and soon I could see Penistone and knew my warm car was there waiting for me.
It had been a short, exhilarating experience. I had never run in a snowstorm as bad as this or in one where I was so exposed to potential danger. I carried an emergency sleeping bag and had the What Three Words app on my phone, but the element of danger is still there and had I fallen and injured myself anything could have happened. It was worth it for me though to see the moors in their most savage and brutal beauty.

It starts with a run on a familiar road, a road I’ve run before. I approach a stile, the stile I glance at as I run past. But this time I turn, approach the turn stile and climb over it. Wild, open moorland stretches out before me, a narrow, baked, mud track, twist and turning its way through the moor and over the horizon. I follow the track cautiously. Experience has taught me to respect the moors with hidden dangers underfoot ready to catch out the unwary and over confident.

Past a farmhouse on my left I send sheep scurrying in all directions, my movement and noise enough to scare them. Down a ditch, over a plastic bridge, I step over and round stones and rocks that have lain there long before I set foot on this moor.

And then the horizon changes as I begin to descend and the valley before me opens up. Fields of straw burnt from the heat of the sun, the tops of trees motionless in the warm air punctuated by the greyness of tiles made from Yorkshire slate, for now the only sign that man has made his mark on this land.

Down I go, through an old wooden gate, across a road, through a garden and past a sign that says beware of the bull. Warily, cautiously I look around before picking up speed to clear the danger zone as quickly as possible. The thought of two tons of bone and muscle terrifies me.

The field ends and the track goes through some woods, this is harder, more technical, more rocks to be careful around as nettles and thorns sting and cut my skin. They remind me that I’m human ant there will be only one winner if I fall.

I reach another road, one I did not expect and run to another stile where the hard work really begins. Up and up and up through reeds almost as tall as me, obscuring the ground below me which despite being a hard baked mud trail has steps made of wood laid into it at irregular intervals. I slow to a walking pace, it is more important to be careful then fast. I leave speed for another day.

Up and up the steps I go as they get steeper and harder to see. Every horizon is false revealing yet more steps to climb. In my mind I start to believe that this climb will never end and I will end up at the gates of heaven, but then it does and as I stop to get my breath back I turn round and take in the beauty of my surroundings. If this is heaven I can stay here for all eternity. Mile after mile of valleys and moorland. For me this is perfection.

And in the distance at the top of the moor is my destination, the white pillar signifying the trig point of the moor, the high point. There’s still some climbing to do, but with the trig point in sight it makes it a bit easier. The path has returned to dusty, dry trail. Still with stones and rocks to watch for but now with no reeds to obscure the view.

At the trig point I stop to take in my surroundings. The views are far reaching. I recognise places that down on the valley floor would seem miles away. I see a church steeple and know what church it is. So high up when down below. For now  am higher that it. I see other landmarks through different eyes, reservoirs of shining water, tower blocks sprouting from the earth and the folly that dominates this landscape. With the folly always in view you can never get lost in this glorious land of valleys and moors.

And then it’s the run for home. Down the path I have just come up but this time with a turn to the left at the bottom and along the conduit that should carry water to the reservoir but has nothing but warm, hard stone showing its face for the first time in years to a clear blue sky.

Down to my right is the forbidden land of Castle Carr, resplendent in a tree leaves and grass of the deepest green that stands out like a lake on mars. I wonder if all the water has been diverted here to keep this small patch of moorland alive at the expense of other parts…

But I need to concentrate on the path before me or  may fall in the conduit and give it an unwanted kiss. I plough on pushing myself as hard as I dare, wanting this flatness to end and be back on the ups and downs of the hills that I love and inspire me to better myself, push myself and be the best I can.

And after what seems like hundreds of miles I turn and I am faced with the final run in to home. A reservoir that shines like molten silver under the gaze of the brightest star I know. My eyes are temporarily blinded by the brilliance of its beauty as it reflects he suns rays into my eyes and I have to gather my thoughts and push on to the other side.

A short climb, a stretch of sticky tarmac and I am back at my car. It’s been hard work but worthwhile just to experience the sensation of running in some of the most beautiful land in the world.


the ice came in from the outside

in through the gaps in the window frames

squeezing through the lead and the glass

to create other worldly patterns

to cold to touch, breath froze on them

they drew you in with their sparkling patterns

of swirls. spirals and curls, meandering everywhere

the milky way, andromeda, sombrero, appear

an interstellar transformation of ice crystals

expanding right before your eyes

a billion sparkling stars living

on your bedroom window

mesmerising, enchanting

unique, beautiful

and then gone

as quickly as they came

the salt palace

sparkles in the cold evening sun

crystals are clear as

light shines through in all directions

bouncing off to all corners of the universe

creating rainbows with pots of gold at the bottom

turning salt crystals into diamonds to

capture the beauty of the woman

who you dream of in your sleep

every star filled night…