Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wet, Water, Woods

Ancient woodlands, tumbling chasms, bubbling river. Got to be Allen Banks, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, North Pennines.

The skies are glowering even while we imagine this promise of pleasure, and by the time we arrive in the flood-puddled car park, occupied only by one man huddled in a Jeep and a wet labrador jauntily sniffing a hedge, the skies are pouring like an upturned cauldron.

Shark, Squirrel, and Tiger are, like the happy dog, undaunted by this sudden deluge. They plunge straightaway into the wet wood, smell the wild garlic flowers tumbling down the banks, point to beech nuts and nettles, and squelch their boots into the sodden mud tracks, jumping puddles that should be shallow. They watch the river churn, see the swaying bridge and run to cross, because here is adventure of bubbling waters and bursting banks. On the other side there could be dripping ferns, owls and red squirrels!

But the rain only comes down, harder.

Scrambling over wet rocks and slippy tracks, we make our way up the ridge to find a path that takes us in a curving slow swing back to the car.

Shame on us. Me and Dig. Cold, wet, slipping over on sliding moss and bruising ourselves like the ancients we are, we've already quietly decided to give up, shorten the walk, backtrack, and bypass the gorge. I'm plodding; my footwear, saturated, is sending water soaking up my legs and I'm deeply regretting forgetting my wellies. Dig is worse; he's half dissolved. I'm picking up the bits that have dropped off him and stowing them in my pockets. We can wring the water out of him later and stitch him back together when he's dry. Then half way across the sodden field where the crows rise up, laughing at this inglorious retreat, I note even the children are slowing up now: the water has begun to penetrate their outer layers and it weighs them down.

We climb into the car, soaked to the skin. We're all sorry at departure. I console myself. I don't usually give in. Mentally, I file the beautiful Allen Banks on my Undone list. The walk we didn't do. I promise myself, if I have years ahead of me, I'll walk it again, and next time, I'll walk all the way round.

1 comment:

Irene said...

That really was very miserable. Even I got wet.