Every now and then, the sky, laden with clouds, affords a scatter of rays.

Settle and Ribblesdale

I walk along Lambert Lane up towards Warrendale Knots and Attermire Scar. The lane, which is deeply cut into the landscape, affords extra protection from the elements with its drystone walls. The walls are what make this place special, cutting up the dales into honeycombed parcels, orchestrating the containment and movement of sheep - a vascular network of stone held together by compression.

Looking south from High Hill Lane beneath Sugar Loaf Hill, I feel like a fly on a billiard table. Every now and then, the sky, laden with clouds, affords a scatter of rays - and for short moments, the walls shine like silvered ribbon.

Looking out along the drover’s lane I think about the energy invested in these walls over the countless years of their making. Some of them have medieval cores. Each wall is laid by hands that stretch across generations. I’ve heard that, at the time of their making, drystone walls are invested with bones and bottles - amulets that are apotropaic in nature. It got me thinking. Does the rubble core harbour the builder’s darkest secrets? Do they encounter their forebears as they pare back the walls and discover their work? When they knap to oppose the curve of an old stone does it open a door to the past? Do their cap-stones rhyme with chapter and verse?

Further out towards Langcliffe the walls are teaming with life - each stone as exquisite as a coral reef, infused with micro-worlds as complex as the village beneath: moss upon lichen and lichen upon moss in a symbiotic capillary entanglement. Today, they appear to be in stasis. Saturated to the core, they’ve absorbed a whole winter of discontent. On earlier walks in late summer, I’ve seen the same walls exhale fine, wispy mists, their mossy copings diffused with vapour like the Amazonian forest.

Tugged up from the earth and placed in gravity defying, time-hopping harmony, these walls are storied in their making and saturated with meaning.

The Route - 5.6 miles

This is the perfect walk for town and country - combining the outdoors with the pleasures of the vernacular villages. I walked with Char along Lambert Lane, up onto the moor past Sugar Loaf Hill, and took the path between Warrendale Knots and the Attermire Scar. After Victoria Cave we descended to the lovely village of Langcliffe and on towards a fire-side pub lunch in Settle.

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