Five Miles of Letah Wood.

Grid Ref: NY939604

Several miles into the first walk of 2019 & it dawns that we haven’t seen another human for over an hour; delightful! The madness of Christmas – the crowds of the city, the familial madness, the workload rush of last minute haircuts, the oversold train carriage – all fall away; the shoulders loosen & the breath evens. The mind begins to detox as the blood flows & the clutter dissolves; it feels good to have escaped ‘the people who are trapped in a permanent state of suppressed aggression’ (Raymond). And, with escape, it feels good to be able to revert to a more primal, animal state.

Raymond, Malcolm & myself are stood at the edge of Letah Wood pondering our favourite animal noises. Raymond moos, Malcolm brays & I am recreating the sound of an elephant. All at once, two humans appear from the quiet path behind us. We see them, a flash of purple waterproof, at the very last moment. “Oh, good morning!” says Raymond. The couple hurry past us, their backs to the wire. They smile, nervously. “Hello,” they say and disappear up the path with the occasional glance over shoulder.

20190109_103313Lunch boxes:

Malcolm/ corned beef, spring onion, boiled egg on brown with salad cream. Followed by a banana. Water. He has lost his flask. He suspects that he left it somewhere near Planky Mill on the last walk of 2018. We discuss the likelihood of it being still warm (zero) & wonder if a squirrel is stood over it trying to figure out what it is. Although the news of Malcolm’s flask is quite sad to hear, I enjoy the synchronicity of things as I unscrew the cap from my own, new, flask. The tea steams & warms my throat & belly on this cool, clear January lunch break in Hexhamshire. I wonder how I ever managed before with just water.

Raymond/ “slither of un-iced fruit cake.” Sweetened, black tea. I note this meal with some delight. “Buddhist as fuck,” I say. “Indeed,” says the retired headmaster.

Nick/ chicken pasta salad (uneaten), scotch egg. Tea! Cadbury’s Creme Egg. We discuss the wonders of both the scotch egg & the Creme egg. A heron flies overhead in that wonderful slow motion manner they have.

Silver Birch

There is a fire on the horizon. The smoke drifts across the landscape. Someone is burning off the old heather to make way for the new.

IMG_20190109_13014920190109_104600-1Stood around a frozen water tub on Cocksure Rig. We talk about our Christmases. Malcolm tells how he came to meet Yorkshire’s pole vault champion, ‘a canny lass’, who can clear a single decker bus. “You don’t meet too many pole vaulters,” says Raymond as he taps a stick on the frozen surface of the rainwater. He passes me the stick. “Here, try this. It’s really quite satisfying.” It really is.




Sometime later, we arrive back at the car. I climb in the back. As we pull off, a silver coloured flask rolls out from beneath Malcolm’s seat.

“Is this your flask, Malc?”

4 thoughts on “Five Miles of Letah Wood.

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