It may have been a bit of a mistake to try and take a Friday afternoon off work today but I have been trying to get up to my homeland for a few weeks. I am, thankfully I suppose, incredibly busy at work and a major bit of work landed on my desk just a few hours before leaving which, because of the nature of it, ruffled a few of my feathers. Still, I sorted it all out by 2.15pm and then drove for just over three hours through showers and bright autumn sunshine up to Black Hill near Clun, Shropshire. A favourite parking place rewarded me with a place at which to cook tea and a have an extensive view over the Welsh hills to the sun on the horizon and the remainder of the storm clouds. I've watched several sunrises and sunsets here in the past and as I then walked up onto the hill I was rewarded with a gorgeous amber light, salmon clouds and a tranquil landscape. My focus for much of the past week has been intense concentration at my computer screen and now, here, I felt an openness and space that I have been longing several weeks for. After a short walk, the light seemed to be disappearing rapidly. It was a very still evening with just the gentlest of breezes beneath a clearing star-filled sky. It was cool but not at all cold. Where the sun had set some clouds had edges lined with deep pink and a little later there was a large block of deep grey shapes that lingered behind the distant hills. I wondered if they were rain clouds heading this way.
Saw a distant dear and a quick glimpse of what was possibly a woodcock silhouetted against the sky amidst some conifers. A tawny owl hoots and its call echoes throughout the woods. It is good to see the hills again; to smell the damp bracken; to see tall conifers; to hear the bleating of sheep in distant fields and to drive, twisting and turning along the step narrow lanes with revealing beautiful views. I see a shooting star in the sky and the gentle twinkling lights of very high aeroplanes. Condensation drips gently from trees around me. There is no total escape from noise of man though. I can hear the occasional car and the heavenly rumble of the aeroplanes.
I probably manage to get up here about once a year as it is on the distant edge of my homeland haunts. It is the conifers that seem to mark the passage of time more than most things for me. I notice their growth over the years and how felled areas are replanted and new trees fill the landscape. I look forward to the time when the trees around the car park at Hopton Hill are felled to reveal the views once again, but I think that may not be in my lifetime.