Monday, 7 March 2011

Maize Beck: IX

The valley was broader now. No longer the quick run of water between interlocking spurs of hills, the beck flows strong and broad over rocky beds. Rounding a corner in the land I came to the falls at Maize Beck Force. The word “Force” is used in Northern England and comes from the Old Norse “Foss”, which describes a fall of water. Here the falls are wide and strong, channelling water over flat slabs of hard whin sill and down strong flumes of white foaming spray. There are river rounded cobbles and angular, squared blocks. Wide flat pastures of rock. The sound of the falls fills the air but it is a peaceful sounds that allows the outside world to soak through, unlike the overpowering roar that comes from higher falls.
I explore the rocks, flat and inviting, purpose made for climbing and gripping. To fall in here and crack bones would be a poor end to the day and I am careful not to push either my own limits or the hospitality of the place. In the cool of the late afternoon I sit on a flat rock beneath the lower fall and drink the last of my water. The first midges of the year dance above the water in a shifting, changing orb. It has been a long and exciting day. A day of contrasts, the dull monotony of the featureless Pennine Way contrasted with the exciting variety of the Maize Beck. A day of biting cold at the cusp of High Cup Nick and soft warmth as nameless hollows of the hills caught the fleeting sun. I have never been happier to have abandoned the path and looked for my own way.

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