Literature Travel

Fun-times for Flora

I know this is the place for culture arts discussion on Film, Literature and Travel, but all I’ve got to write about this week is a boozy trip to the Forest of Bowland.

[I’m sorry Herr Madelung, I know I promised you that I’d be going to see some live music whilst I was there, but I didn’t. Even if I had, I don’t think I would’ve remembered it anyhow.]

merkelI’m a hard working German person, the living embodiment of the national stereotype – serious, efficient and almost always sober.

However, it does grow tiresome having such a consistently outwardly serious persona for so long a time – so every now and again, I like to really let my hair down and get wrecked.

I’ve been living in Crook for the last 6 months, around 10,000 people live here, but it feels more like 100. The average age of residents here lies between 45 and 60, so it’s perfect if you’re interested in playing bridge and watching day-time TV, but not so good if you just want to get hammered and have a dance.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m usually a somewhat serious person. In fact, I’ve been told on several occasions that I need to lighten up – that’s usually by the older members of the community here as well. When you get told that you’re taking life too seriously by some one who might literally be knocking on death’s door within a matter of months, it tends to make you reconsider your lifestyle choices.

So when a friend from university said that they had a spare bed in their holiday home for the night, I jumped at the chance to escape Crook and get an eyeful of somewhere new.

bowland-fell-park-placeJust a 2 hour drive from our pleasant valley of Weardale, Bowland Fell Park is right on the edge of the Forest of Bowland—an often overlooked Area of Outstanding Beauty.

My friends were already there, unpacking the food and booze they were hoping would sustain us for a weekend away.

The stationary caravan they had rented (you can take a look at it here) was pleasantly roomy on the inside, but it wasn’t the interior we were interested in.

The reason I’d driven 100 miles or so away from our dear Pennines was to experience somewhere new – a landscape fresh to my own eyes. The Forest of Bowland definitely didn’t disappoint.

forest-of-bowland

Even though it’s just a short skip away from Crook, the thick forests of conifer and broad-leaved trees that blanketed the landscape made it feel like half a world away. We set out for a hike straight away, deep into the depth of the forest. A large network of paths and trails wind their way through the forest floor – there are maps you can use, but we decided (wisely?) to go without.

Taking a few bottles of locally sourced ale and a hefty rucksack of picnic-ready goods – we set out just before midday, planning to get a good head start and really cover some ground.

It didn’t work out that way.

The beers were cracked early, the food did get pillaged and we found a gorgeous glade to settle down in. So we only made it about a mile and a half – so what? In just a few hours, I’d found the right combination of friends, environment (and beer) to feel like I had sufficiently bucked the national stereotype.

Out amongst the stars and trees, with the comfort of a caravan to look forward to, I felt a long way from Weardale – and that’s OK.