I wake early, pull on some warm clothes and drive bleary-eyed through deserted streets and away from the city. Leaving the car in a deserted car park, I stride into the woodland in the blue gloom of the pre-dawn. I was nervous about the time, not wanting to be too late. My pace was quick, feet slipping on mud-slick stones, the weight of my pack tugging on my back, my tripod banging against my legs. I wasn’t sure how long it’d take me to climb to the top of the tor, and so I marched through the misty woods. Lichen-wreathed trees gave way to open moorland, strewn with clitter and scattered with bracken.
Breathlessly I pushed on up the torside, feeling hot from exertion and from too many layers. The sky is pastel, chalk dust blue above fading to an ochre yellow smudge on the horizon. The wind is high on top of the tor, buffeting constantly - a powerful blast from the east. It swirls around me, flapping my hair against my face, cuts through my clothing. I find a smooth stone from which to watch, and pour a cup of hot tea. I gratefully clasp it in my gloved hands, as the steam is whipped away, almost horizontally. As I wait, I sit and ponder, trying to find perspective on the troubles of student life; relationships, coursework, money.
The wind roars around me, the granite outcrop on which I was sitting appearing to split the clouds like the bows of a great ship; they roil and flow past on either side. They hang low over the landscape - like gazing into a fast-flowing stream, the trees and hedgerows appearing like pebbles in a streambed. With a thrill, I become aware of the brightening horizon, and my eyes are drawn eastwards. The sun creeps above the edge of the dawn-dark clouds, causing the sky to turn egg-yolk yellow and burnishing their gossamer edges with gold. Rays of fluid light spill forth over the edges of the banked clouds, and the flanks of the tor falling away in front of me glisten as the sun reflects off mica in the granite. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face, despite the wind, and it’s exhilarating on this cold February day. I can’t help but stand up and spread my arms wide, whooping into the wind. The rushing sky rips the air from my lungs and draws forth spontaneous praise. I’m overcome by wonder. I glance around self-consciously, but I am completely alone. I lose myself in the sun, heaven come to earth.
The bright amber sun rises fully above the weather and the mist glows bright, obscuring the fields and villages below. Everything is touched by warm light. My spirits lifted, my flask empty, and my body temperature continuing to drop, I decide it’s time to leave. I descend from the tor, retracing my steps. The once-dark woods are now bathed in the risen sun, casting long shadows with their half-lit trunks. I reach the car, and breath a satisfied sigh. I had gone up the tor to find peace, but instead came away invigorated.