Well, not really a walk of terrors and fear, but definitely a walk of darkness, slight panic, and overcoming of physical pain!!
(image via pinterest)
Where, why, how, and with who? I hear you ask.
Well, the where was Swinsty Reservoir, a beautiful, well, reservoir just north of Leeds, that has a beautiful water edge walk meandering through forest, undergrowth, and beasties (beasties being ducks, swans, and midges). I did the walk last night, quite literally, last night. My friends and I arrived just as the setting sun hit the tops of the distant hills, bathing the neighbouring reservoir, Fewston, is watercolours of golden yellows, mellow oranges, and bruised blues. I was told it was an easy grade walk, and it was, in terms of the walk as a walk it is decadent for those of us with some mobility issues.
Firstly, you follow the road down to the bridge that separates Swinsty and Fewston, cross the bridge, and walk a little further to the entrance of the Swinsty. The path then meanders as a gentle slope (though I did wish I had my hiking stick) down to the water, then turning left to follow the waters edge. On this first part of the walk the path gently undulates under foot, rising naturally with the landscape to then swoop down to water level again. Eventually you come out of the undulates onto the flat path that becomes the norm for the rest of the walk. At this point you hit Swinsty's second car park, before leaving the reservoir to take to the road again - to cross another bridge, of course. At this point the sun had almost completely set and the darkness was starting to creep in . . . and my back was starting to hurt a little - yoga stretch time!!
Once the bridge was crossed we headed back into the reservoir, back onto the gravel path, but there were no more gentle slopes or rises, the path generally remained flat, except for the occasional "footpath pothole." Darkness was creeping in, quicker and quicker, I could just make out my friend Jess in the distance, all pale limbed and ghost-like faced, her dark clothes obscured in shadow. At this point, I will admit, I let a little panic set in, my lower back was starting to hurt quite significantly, we were off road, and it was almost nighttime - perhaps not the ideal situation . . . We finally came to another, private road, where about three houses were set back, from, their lights like blazing beacons through the trees. At this point, I was tossing up whether to turn back, to go to the other car park and let Gem and Jess continue onto the other car park for the car. I decided, turned to head back to the car park we had recently passed by myself, and then all of Gem's talk of terrors overtook me and fear set in. Quickly, I turned back to the way my friends were walking and yelled to them, "I can't, I can't do it, I need to keep on going with you guys.' So I did.
There was another bridge, just past the last house on the private road. The bridge, essentially, was the reservoir wall, holding back the water from flooding the deep valley on the other side. This deep valley, in the eerie twilight, was covered in a carpet of thick mist, as I watched, it seemed to be flowing back into itself, weaving, drawing, melding, into the landscape. We hit the other side of this third bridge, and I felt relief as I knew we were on the home stretch. Home stretch it may have been, but by this point it was almost pitch black, the only miniscule amount of light coming from the deepening sky, peering through the tree tops. The path was heavily potted, and I almost stumbled a few times; I had to ask Jess for her phone, to use the light to light the way. At this point the path was set back a little further from the water, this undergrowth and tall wave-y trees enclosed us, the only salvation being the gravel path that cut through the blackness like white chalk.
We made it. I made it. Back to the car park. Back to the car.
The stars were out.
(image via pinterest)
Now are you asking why did I do this? And how?
Well, to begin with, I wanted the challenge of a walk and walk length that I had never done before. I didn't intend to do it in the dark, but we were late to the reservoir and it was thought that we would have enough time to get all the way around before complete darkness. During the walk I had to make many decisions and deal with a myriad of emotional responses to the situation that I was in. A situation that was both calming and difficult. I learnt a little more about myself on the walk, I learnt to become even more self aware then I was, I could take a step back and just see, just observe. I tried to embrace the yogic principal of observing the breath and focusing on the breath, feeling the breath. It was a challenge, one of many on that walk.
I did this walk with the intent to start and complete it. I almost gave up part way through - but being already half way through, fear and logic dictated that I keep on going. The how I got through it is with peeps who encourage me along the way . . . with tacky rewordings of ColdPlay songs . . . it was funny!!
(here is me with these two awesome gals!!)
These peeps I speak of are pretty special peeps. Gem and Jess are two of my bestest buds and I love 'em both dearly, and this walk would not have happened without the crazy, insane, crazy of Gem thinking we could do the walk before the sun set (love you really Gem!!), and without Jess insisting that I come along for the walk . . . but really, it is these two (amongst others - looking at you Tara!) that have been reminding me lately to be more adventurous, to be more excited by the unknown, to open up to new experience with an open heart.
Because if we close ourselves off, for whatever reason, we miss out on the richness of life, the grand tapestry that is nature, in all it's abundant glory and beauty. I am also reminded that I have to listen to my body carefully, to really feel what is working and what is not, and to, again, embrace the yogic philosophy of being gentle and feeling 'space,' to be kind to yourself and mostly be at one with the present, with the moment,
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright