• Tony Durrant

The great leap Northward

Updated: Oct 8


We've finally taken the big step back. Well 'back' for me but not for Sal. For many years home was the Kent Downs, but now, among the fells and dales on the Yorkshire-Cumbria border, I'm properly at home.

I'm not originally from this part of the North, my roots being far more urban: post-industrial. The landscapes I live among now are those I sought for escapism and enjoyment as a youth and younger man; places where the houses are old and stone-built, dogs herd sheep along the roads, and men with weathered faces sit by pub fires. Life here has a rougher edge; closer to nature.

I was pleased to find there are still some locals among the incomers strung along the valley, or off-comers as the locals call us. The locals all know each other, and each other's lineage.

I'm pretty sure some of them could probably trace their lines back to the first viking settlers who farmed these harsh hills.

On the whole, they're welcoming, more so once they establish we haven't bought the old place as a holiday home but are moving in permanently.

The winter, as expected, is a world - and climate - away from those of Kent, but we face it as an adventure rather than something to be endured. The winds howl up the dale from the west, and when it swings round from the east the fire in our snug belches smoke.

We watch the light-show over the fell from the back window with constant admiration and we're eager to see what wildlife our first year here brings - other than the field mice we regularly evict from the pantry.

Winter walking


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