• Tony Durrant

The great leap Northward

Updated: May 25


We've finally taken the big step back to the North. 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 you could say. However, these are the landscapes I sought out for escapism and enjoyment; 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.

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.

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 the snug belches smoke.

We watch the light-show over the fell from the back window with constant excitement 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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