In praise of wild places

I’ve just come back from a week on the North York Moors. The farmhouse we stayed in was at the end of a single lane track through four gates and about one mile from the nearest road, which didn’t even merit any classification on the road maps.

Staying somewhere so remote allows you to immerse yourself in the landscape that envelops you. You are at the mercy of the elements that define these wild places. Yes man has shaped them through farming and industrialisation but these national parks, such as the North York Moors, are our true wildernesses.

No two days are the same. The silence is deafening and broken only by the howling wind, the chatter of sheep and the hooting of an owl. A wilderness throws you into the deep end of nature: you might not be able to identify all of the upland birds or wild flowers but the rawness of the moorlands takes your breath away.

Being in the centre of a wild place is a really emotional experience. Seeing the shadows of the trees and farm buildings in the evening sun is magical and the feeling of sleet on your face is electrifying and refreshing. I never tired of looking out of the window across the valleys and the hillsides encrusted with the brilliant purple heather jewels.

These wild places need protection and deserve our respect and love. This doesn’t mean preserving them in sort of 1950s sepia image. No they are a working landscape with joyous Market towns on the fringes of the moorland.

In you need to refresh your soul or take time out from the rat race then somewhere like the North York Moors is the place to be. You will be away from everyday digital distractions and you will find yourself thinking in poetry rather than prose.

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