Up the eastern flank of the turreted ridge, we scrambled, without thought, for the moon. Yet, upon arrival, and far from lunar discovery, we fell once more in love with the Earth – ocean before us, moorland behind, and a slab of rock, strong and definite, beneath our feet.
We woke in the hut before dawn. The logs in the burner, the night previous so alive, had faded, leaving us huddled side by side in our sleeping bags like penguins in a storm. Too cold to sleep, we rose, pulled on our hats and gloves and pushed open the cabin’s creaking, wooden door.
Cloud branched through the valleys beneath our vantage point, and the low scrub that populated the Luxmore slopes lay frozen with wind-sculpted ice shards.
Some time later, the night’s sky turned sapphire. The sun climbed slowly beyond the eastern ranges, at first, oddly cooling, before washing the scene with a warm amber light. My capillaries flooded with love, and, at that moment, I was present.
Mushrooms gossip: a huddle of old ladies in wide-brimmed hats; a sodden band of children beneath ribbed umbrellas. It’s easy to discuss their demeanour, less so their voice. For, beneath their caps of gold and bronze, they tell truths inconceivable to you and I. Truths that, if understood, would alter all that we are.
We climbed away from the haggard forest and the deep-set country lanes, between grazing sheep and bounding rabbits, and on. Cotton grass began to appear; at first one or two shoots, but by the time we reached the lower crags of Fan y Big the ridgeline was awash with white. As pure as the foam of an Arctic wave, the cotton heads lit up the Beacons, monotone yet magnificent.
We sat – with our toes overhanging – on a diving board of sandstone. We were at the apex.
From the Craig Cwmoergwm spine we moved south, beyond tottering cairns and peat bogs the colour of the night. The Neuadd Reservoir deep in the valley had run dry.
Stopping to rest on our descent into the Caerfanell basin, Jake fell asleep amidst a bed of grassy tussocks. I tried, but was kept from my slumber by the chirrups of the skylarks overhead.