Sunday, 13 June 2010

Room to Breathe ( Walking in the Lakes )

I never get Writer's Block. I'm not sure whether this is because I write for a living and my bank account won't allow it or because having written for thirty years it's like breathing or because I love writing so much that I can hardly go a day without it. I do however despair when it goes badly - when I can tell it's going badly, sometimes I can't tell whether I'm writing well or not. I think my ideas will fail me. They never do, I always get there and I feel traitrous to me the writer because she is always there for me but like every other relationship I'm plagued with doubts. When this happens I need space and time away from desks and computers.

Walking has always been useful for me, it frees up ideas. When I first started writing professionally and I lived at Ramshaw, near Barnard Castle I would take the dogs out and walk up the old railway line from where our house stood and by the time I came back I would have solved whichever writing problem I had. Nowadays I understand my writing self more and know that eventually I will sort out the problem anyway and perhaps the walking has become a passion in itself.

This week I went to Cumbria to visit my cousin. She lives in the country to the west of Carlisle and on a sunny summer evening you can see the silver line of the Moray Firth from the windows of her conservatory beyond the fields which are deep in buttercups, where the cattle are half hidden and the sun goes down late. There are house martins nesting - they fly around the eves and swoop deep in the garden.
The first day we went up above Bassenthwaite and walked across Sale Fell with her labrador and came home in the middle of the evening.
The second day we went to Troutbeck above Windermere where there were Herdwick sheep, a very old hardy breed probably introduced to the Lake District by Norse settlers, belted Galloway Scottish woolly cattle, dark ponies on the low ground, bright gorse which was almost orange and in Windermere itself the rhododendrons were lush in the gardens, orange, pink and purple.

The days were warm and overcast, the sun breaking through every now and then. We carried our coats and talked about our children, our families and our concerns. We spent three hours walking and we had a picnic beneath a shady tree. We met lots of people, everybody spoke and some of the sheep stared - they are not really concerned, they see too many visitors for that.
Lovely piebald horses and other foreign ones I didn't recognise with deep tan bodies and black tails live in the fields there and the houses are well constructed, many of them old, some Victorian where people used to leave London and come here for the summer. The picture at the top is the Mortal Man where Wordsworth and his friends used to gather.
Barns have been as carefully constructed as houses.
Rivulets of clear water run down from the tops of the hillsI came back feeling rested and refreshed and ready to work.


  1. Love the Lake District. Do you suppose if I set my next book there, I can rent a holiday home and charge it to the tax man?

  2. Definitely, Jan. I'm sure you could set it against your tax. Good idea.