Autobiographical slices of writing using sets of comemerative stamps as creative prompts.
info_outline The Peak District 07/15/2020
The Peak District A autobiographical podcast using sets of commemorative stamps as creative prompts. Probably as self indulgient as it sounds. This epsiode was prompted by the You can support me on Patreon You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Text I have always lived on the edge of the Peak District. There’ve been a few years here and there where I’ve spent time away. I lived in Sunderland for a bit, pretending to study for a degree. Then, over to Bradford university in order to take things a bit more seriously. But I never counted those places as home. My heart’s always been nestled into a Yorkshire valley, encased by soot blackened millstone grit. You can keep your ivory towers; give me my dark satanic mills any day of the week. Not that the Universities of Sunderland and Bradford had many ivory towers. They aren’t exactly what you’d call high prestige academic institutions. Maybe if I had gone somewhere a bit nicer my sense of belonging may have migrated. Maybe Durham, Edinburgh, or York could have stolen my affections. But I doubt it. My love of being on the fringes of the Peak District has been part of me from the very beginning. As long as I can remember I’ve found comfort in the fact that I live at a topographical dead end. The road comes into my town, strong and vibrant; pumping traffic, tourists, and homeward bound commuters into the centre and then dispersing them through the capillaries of the streets, lanes and ginnels. But then, the road peters out. It shrinks and empties and loses all urgency. It disappears furtively into the moors, carrying only those foolish few who choose to work on the other side of the hills. Jobs in Glossop, Tintwhistle, or Aston-under-Lyme. Foreign places with exotic names But in the town itself the hills of the Peak district are ever present. Rising up above the roofs. Enveloping, familiar, and always there. I rarely walk on the moors themselves. The slopes are steep and the landscape barren. Peat bogs lay heavy in my imagination, waiting for me to stray from the path and suck me in. But there are worse things than peat bogs hidden up there. Once, in an anecdote that in a parallel universe would have graced the pages of playboy, I came across a pair of lost Swedish 20 something women out on the moors. They were attempting to navigate their way back to their car using a tattered printout from google maps and a flat phone battery. They were way off course, and walking in the wrong direction. As I drove them back to their car I grasped for conversation. “There are dead children buried up here you know. The Moors Murderer? Back in the 60’s? This is where he hid them.” “Oh” they said. “Yes. It’s a good place to hide a body up here. No one would find it” “Oh” they said. “Don’t worry! I’m not a murderer!” I said. “Mind you, I guess that’s what a murderer would say wouldn’t they!” “Yes”, they said. We didn’t exchange contact details when I dropped them off. There are also wrecks of Second World War era planes on the moors. Monuments to men throwing themselves against each other in flimsy flying machines. Screaming infernos plummeting into the dark hillside. Too remote to remove entirely and so left to slowly dissolve into the landscape. My dad used to occasionally mount expeditions to find these wrecks. Armed with compass, map and scribbled co-ordinates he made pilgrimages to unintended memorials to brave airmen in desperate times. I was never interested enough to go with him. I regret that now. I’ve always lived at the edge of the Peak District. As National Parks go, it’s not flashy. It doesn’t have the rolling tranquility of The Yorksire Dales, the fame of the Lake District, or the mountains of Snowdonia. But it’s empty hills have always filled my horizon, and I think they always will.