Day 16: Slowly Dying (aka Hiking)
Our sleepy ears were greeted by reverberating sniffles and coughing which proved to be an effective and highly unwarranted alarm this morning. I had managed to achieve what all good friends inevitably do but are (surprisingly) not often thanked for. Helen had now joined me in the land of sickness and disease. After all, sharing is caring, even when it comes to the nastier stuff.
While strolling through the valley floor, the morning only seemed to grow louder, with a low flying plane greeting us as we started out.
We knew that this easy walking wouldn't last forever and while we enjoyed our lungs not imploding, we did lament that while pretty, the valley floor, had nothing on the rolling green hills from the previous day.
Within no time we were back amongst the clouds, in the moment between the land and sky converging.
Apparently though, the map doesn't have directions to where the sky meets the land. Luckily for us, it does have suggestions for how to navigate through the hills, even when our path is less clear.
Usually one joy of hiking is the forced detachment from the outside world. Turning off my mobile phone, putting it at the bottom of my bag, and knowing that everything else can wait is a joyous and freeing feeling.
Of course, there are exceptions to this . Our campsite, at the bottom of a valley, had quite poor reception. By observing the local wildlife, I discovered that the best point for communication, if required, was in fact in a sheltered location at the plateau of the rise that we had just climbed.
Like any good creature, mimicry is at the heart of learning behaviour. Also Helen hadn't had the chance to put more credit on her phone. The pause also gave us the opportunity to gaze dramatically over the landscape, and capture the moment on film forever.
Our next stop was for lunch, and despite the English telling us it was Summer, both of us spent this time contemplating what sort of real summer required wool clothes, raincoats and beanies. We found this little rock alcove, which we made our lunch "nest". It also provided an excellent chance to relocate ourselves, and plot our afternoon course.
Our attempted photo shoot was hindered by the sickness that plagued us the entire day. Helen managed to capture this beautiful photo of me sneezing, instead of what, I guess we will never know.
The afternoon welcomed us with expansive open spaces, and occasional glints of sunshine peaking through the clouds. These instances were met with delighted squeals and proclamations of "magical" and "required appreciation moment". After our chilly morning, any illusion of warmth was greeted with excitedly flailing arms.
We arrived by this stream (which turned into a lake) quite late in the afternoon and took a break. The sun truly started to peak out from behind the clouds at this point, so we rejoiced by lying in the dewy grass and chatting. The beauty of the long summer days in the UK is the chance to spend a bit more time hiking, or taking a few more moments to gaze at the clouds!
Coming back down into the valley, the clouds and sunshine danced for us. It was the perfect reward for our day's efforts. Despite my nervousness about hiking in a foreign country, with very little planning, it seems that our countless past experiences together, from getting lost to surviving torrential downpours meant that a few lazy day hikes amongst the hills of England (even if we were half dying) was almost effortless.
Also, just magical.