Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


Climbing to the sun

Kathy at the Top of England 171


Good friend and writer Kathy Gilman of New Hampshire is climbing into the heavens above the fells in the part of northern England that was my mother’s home, and my sister’s birthplace.

For lovers of the natural world, England — and life — as well as keeping faith, I am delighted to share her words and images:


Guest Post: Standing on top of England

By Kathy Gilman

It is overcast at 8:30 a.m. and I am prepared for wet conditions. Light mackintosh in the pack. Waterproof over trousers. Yet I am encouraged by Wunderground’s prediction of clear skies at 1 p.m.

    Stone steps beneath my feet slanting at different angles, each step a different depth. I wonder if stepping up is more difficult than walking on a flat incline. Little Lamb Laying Low 31
     I reach a stream that must be crossed. I am afraid of getting my boots and socks wet.  I notice others going over in different spots, balancing on the slimy mossy rocks, charging over without stopping. I am timid and unsure. I take off my boots and socks and throw them across the stream.  I roll up my pants. I feel more secure with my feet curling over the tops of the rocks.
     I make it across without getting my feet any more wet than they do from the rocks. Having dried them off with my shirt, I move along up more stone “stairs”, built into the side of the fell. Rain mists and I don my mackintosh. Small pebbles of hail start to fall.
Creeping Clouds 71      A party of three ahead of me turns back, saying they wouldn’t go any further in the hail. I cling to the image of the sun icon that I saw that morning on my computer, and press on.
     The hail does not last long. The misty rain stops. The steps end and turn into a rough stony path with boulders from time to time. A continuous steady climb upward, sometimes zigzagging back and forth, like an uphill slalom on a wintry mountain.
     Nearing the top, I come across mounds of black angular rocks that are piled up on one another, as if dumped out of a huge sack from above. I am not able to walk on any ground at all, but must pick my way over and through these rocks to the top and to a stone shelter to eat some lunch.
Here Comes the Sun on the Summit 211     By noon, I am at the top and in the clouds, save for one direction that will offer views from time to time. Undaunted and confident in the weather prediction, I wait out the hour for the certain clearing, eating at a leisurely pace.
     After one hour, the clouds thicken.  I begin to lose hope, and decide to make my way over to the platform and cairn for pictures before descending.
     At 1:30, the clouds miraculously lift as predicted, the crowds begin to appear up to the top, as if magnetized by the sun, and I get a 360 degree view from Scafell Pike, the top of England.
     The hour and a half wait at the top has been worth it, and my faith in the forecast proved successful.