I stare at the YHA building undecided, memory has tricked me; I thought the start of the path up was to the right of the building, now I see it was always to the left. I remember that it was a stiff climb to the first gap in the trees large enough to expose the villages below. And this is what I need: to gain perspective.
I’d woken again in the night stressed that at my mum’s I have no sense of direction: I’d arrived from the north, Reading and London should lay to the west, but I couldn’t make the trains run logically. 2am I am frustrated enough to try to sketch it out, shifting the river, then the railway, re-drawing the road till I find reassurance in an east west layout not the north south of the bigger picture. And now, reaching a clearing, the layout below resembles the sketch; it makes sense.
As a child this hill took hours to climb, but 10 minutes later I’m at the top. ‘Toy Town’ – that’s how I thought of it in my teens, underscored from seeing ‘real hills’ for the first time (north of Rochdale).It’s partly old memories, partly thinking about and being with my mum, but I’m nearly in tears now, there’s always this feeling when I come to stay that I could get stuck here, never reach the terminal velocity needed to break free again.
This diary snippet – written last year – forms part of a ‘work in progress’ display at VARC. Research, texts and drawings are arranged by date and altitude. I will be talking about the project thus far and facilitating a complementary walk on Saturday 23rd of April (details on the Events page).