the quiet on top of the world

When I knew that I was moving to Yorkshire, I immediately pictured wind-swept moors and long walks and time to just breathe in nature. Then I moved to York and discovered that it is a flat city located in a basin. It has taken over seven months for me to make it to the moors, but let me tell you, it was worth the wait. They are so beautiful!

Anna, Ness and I loaded up a car on Wednesday morning and took a leisurely drive north from York into North Yorkshire Moors National Park. We stopped at a village, Osmotherley, to eat our picnic lunch and to stare at the hills which were looming straight over us, instead of in the distant horizon that you occasionally glimpse from certain angles in the city. The gardens were full of flowers, and some of the homes had the front doors wide open, with people calling a hello when you made eye contact. York is friendly, but nowhere near as friendly as Osmotherley!

Thursday morning dawned cloudy with a promise of cooler weather, but Anna pulled out her paper maps and planned a route for us to Roseberry Topping and through a bit of the Cleveland Way to James Cook’s monument, and by the time we headed out, it was warm and sunny. It took us a few hours (due to some people…me… stopping to take photos and pick flowers), but we made it to Cook’s monument to find the moors laid out at our feet. I love the quiet that you find on top of the world. The peace, the proximity to Heaven. You don’t need to find words up there.

On the way down to Great Ayton, we got a bit lost in a pine forest. We had to climb barbed wire, ford a stream several times, and make our way where there was no path. Anna consulted her paper maps and memories of being in the moors before, and we each pulled on our different strengths (optimism, level-headedness, knowing moss grows on the north side of trees…and my iPhone, admittedly, because I am not such an intrepid adventurer that I left it behind) to find our way back to civilisation. And admittedly, it was the most fun that I’ve had in such a long time.

Friday found us driving across the moor. We had a picnic lunch with a view, then continued on to Rievaulx Abbey. We got caught in the rain and took shelter under some trees by a stream, and eventually made our way through pastures with cows (which I accidentally frightened when I tried to pet them…how bizarre, that I can frighten a giant cow) and back to the car, where we drove through the rest of the moors back to York.

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