FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Driving to the Furness peninsula to say our goodbyes to family and friends. Suddenly, as we’re joining the M6 at junction 38, the sun breaks through low clouds and patches of emerald shimmer on fellsides. Familiar ridges appear through cracks in mist and broad fields are washed with vivid colours. This is one of my favourite places on Earth – the Tebay Gorge, the divide between the Howgill Fells and the Lake District mountains. Houses in Tebay reflect warm sunlight. The River Lune sparkles. There are sheep in the meadows and, somewhere, cows in the corn. And I get emotional and think: why am I leaving this? I’ve driven these roads hundreds of times. I know almost every inch of these fells, have climbed every summit, know the names of their becks, their crags and their gills. Then I think: perhaps I’ve answered my own question. Perhaps I need something new . . .
FRIDAY NIGHT: Askam-in-Furness, a post-industrial settlement on the Duddon estuary, is where I emerged into this world and where my family still live. I wander through fields of hay and buttercups with my granddaughter and my mother’s border collie, hoping to capture a memorable picture of Black Combe.
Black Combe is Lakeland’s most southerly fell and it dominates the Duddon estuary. It’s part of my life. As I wait for its cap of cloud to disperse, an old British Rail Deltic growls past on the Cumbrian coastal line pulling four coaches and a second Deltic. This pleases me no end because I’ve just used a picture of a Deltic on my introductory blog post. I’m two posts in, and already a theme has developed. Might be a challenge to maintain in Spain, mind.
SATURDAY NIGHT: Taking more shots of Black Combe, this time looking across the Duddon estuary from my mother’s garden as the sun sets. Getting nostalgic again over a lump of rock. The Scafells, Harter Fell, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Dow Crag and the Old Man hide behind a bank of cloud. Only Black Combe is visible.
The easiest thing in the world would be to stay here and gaze at its slopes for the rest of my life, watching cloud shadows drift across swelling landscape. But I’m off to live in Spain. Black Combe will still be here when I return. It’s been around for 500 million years. It’s not going anywhere. Not in a hurry, anyway.