Monday, 27 August 2012
Last Man on Earth Part Two.
After exploring the cool-looking waterfall and pretending to be Indiana Jones for a bit, I began to climb the western slope of the Valley of Desolation that led up through a pine tree forest then out onto open moorland.
Suddenly I saw a movement on the ground a few yards ahead of me and I froze. Out of the long grass slithered a Slow worm. I had only ever seen one of these before, this when I was a kid on holiday in south Wales. Although it looked like a foot long snake a Slow Worm is actually a legless lizard, you can tell by the shape of the head. I was able to get good and close to it and watched it for a while before it slid off into the undergrowth.
Filled with that happy feeling you get when you've just seen some unexpected wildlife I hit the open fells and climbed up to Simon's Seat. This is a jumble of crags and boulders that sits at the top of the fell and at 1,590 feet is the highest point in the area. Reaching the foot of the boulders I climbed them until I reached the summit then sat and ate my sandwiches while taking in the view.
I realised that I had not seen another human being in over four hours, something of an achievement on this overcrowded island. This was the solitude I had been looking for after the stress of my home city and I leant back against the crag and felt like the last man on Earth.
I descended from the fells and walked back along the river until I reached the camp site. After a quick wash and brush up I walked up the road to the village pub and sat at an outside table with a pint of pale ale. The pub was busy with families and couples and I felt a bit out of place sitting on my own. I wanted my wife or friends to be with me so we could talk about our day but instead I was the lone guy sat nursing a pint and gawping at the hills.
Getting bored of this I went back to my tent to cook my dinner. I realised that I had forgotten my camp chair so had to sit on the grass while I ate my half-cooked Savoury Rice and burnt can of Stagg Chilli.
After being eaten alive myself by the swarms of Midges that lived by the river I doused myself in insect repellant then sat back against the wheel of my car, drinking a bottle of red wine and smelling like a chemical factory while watching the stars come out in the darkening sky.
I was in my sleeping bag and snoring by 22:30.
I was awoken by a gentle quacking sound outside my tent and stuck my head out to see what was occurring. It was just growing light and a low lying mist blanketed the valley. I found myself face to face with a small brown duck. The rest of the camp site was still asleep so I brewed up a black coffee and sat on the misty ground sharing a couple of cold pancakes with my new duck friend.
The girl who ran the camp site was walking her dog and came over, asking me how I had enjoyed my solitude.
I told her it had been good but also said that I couldn't help feeling that solitude is better when you've got someone to share it with. She laughed and wandered off into the mist.
I broke camp and drove back towards the city. I was ready for people again.