Up hill and down dale, the North Yorkshire landscape is a gnarly encounter, lined with tracks and dry stone walls that criss-cross the lumpy fields. These markers are evidence of the relentless feet of livestock and the legacy of toughened hands, broad backs and the sheer determination of generations of ordinary men and women. The land is literally as old as the hills, imbued with Bronte and those bleak howling winds. Oblivious, it continues to simply be, with its back to progress and modernity. Despite the hues, the muted soaking colours, there is a quiet invitation to frame the topography in black and white, letting the shapes and wriggles take command.
We came looking to buy a house and found West Burton, snuggled in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We climbed upwards from the cacophony of a gushing waterfall, up beyond the self-embracing roots of trees that remembered a time before the Industrial Revoulution. Panting, we neared the weighty, rain-pregnant clouds as our small dog Flower, ran amok, intoxicated with the alien stimulus of what should be Britain’s fifth kingdom – Yorkshire.
Small gates and mossy stones interrupt our steps. Moss and plant life see every surface as an opportunity for self expression. And always the light, of God’s own country, picks out vistas and details alike.
Sheep stand steadfast and confrontational, unimpressed by our arduous hike. We go around them, doffing our imaginary caps. They know it is their land, not ours.
Hands wear the gate top, everywhere there are clues to the years of constant travel by people on feet, moving, working and living. Meanwhile, Flower keeps her nose up, watching for rabbits, foxes and movement in the grass.