Some run and some walk, but both propel forward. The marriage between running and walking is unified in a language of experience. For the fell runner the language is a dialect of both the runner and the walker, it’s the mid ground, the important place where individuals step in and out, embracing both disciplines. The fell runner seeks the truth about landscape, the fell runner allows their self the understanding that they are not alongside the land they are with the land, in all of its complexities they allow themselves the freedom to be responsive.
The most frustrating thing in all of this is the transposition of experience into words or images, there is not yet that I am aware of a transcription, an actual one, from mind to other. It is therefore not possible to re-enact or recreate the entirety of an event within context and within time. There is no video that captures a contour of a line and passes on the period pain that’s reaching over your entire body as you look out, indeed when played back, you would only be aware of the panoramic, perhaps relating it to the time that your husband revealed a yearlong love affair on a banal weekend away. That is not how I saw that hill. The sight playing in front of you might recall nothing from your immediate memory and your mind may wander to the things you would do to convince yourself that you were actually a diligent mother and wife. That is not how I saw the hill.
I can’t tell you, or anyone of the density of the plant I assume to be heather that spread across the ground in front of me, how all the sound seemed to be sucked out of the air only to add to the layer of insulation I assumed the earth was providing. I cannot tell you of this silence because perhaps I’m the only one who takes this from that line. This is my hill.
I cannot tell you that my mind is so rested in this muddle of green that I pretend to be thinking if anyone asks of my silence, that there is nothing going through me, nothing but silence. The silence I see on my hill is perhaps the wind that you see; the rain isn’t there when I look because the silence has taken it away. The hill that you see is not my hill.
If I showed you my hill, I couldn’t put it on paper or draw an outline with a pen, my hill has no outline. If I showed you my hill, I would take you to it; I doubt even then you would see it. I assume, as with most things that you would see your own hill, that the greens would blend and the rain would stop. I don’t know if it would, I’m not an expert on hills or anything else.
If I took a picture it would be of the part of the hill that fell most heavy against the sky, and in this picture you would assume my route (see, we all assume). I would photograph it as the sun went down because someone once told me that there is a beauty in the light of the evening sky and I would hate for you to think me complacent, this would not be my hill, it would be the hill I think you’d enjoy. I could record the sound of my breath as I walked up it, but you would not know how hard I held it back in case you found out who I was as I travelled upwards. I could sketch at the top, perhaps I’d make some things up to hide the shame of my draftsmanship, and it would not be my view.
And there lies the difficulty in my hill; it is only then and there. It exists in other times and in other situations as do I, but our meeting comes only once. There is no hour later, there’s only the present, so how do I show you this? If I painted a picture I could take days or minutes, I could show it to you, I could see that you recognised it for what it was and with this exchange the story would end. You could then tell me of a similar hill that you had once seen and the story that now is a by-product of that vision, I would listen, there’s no need not to, and in that instance something would be borne, my hill a catalyst for you hill and the following would be the created, then we would both have a hill and a shared understanding. Our hills side by side in a landscape, sitting proud or shy of the eventuality of a new discovery of the next viewer. We’d be placing our hills in the timeline of someone else’s struggles to understand the limitations of language held against landscape and in the end neither would be our hill.
This series of emotive writing seeks to expand the notion and limitations of walking and bring light to the runners that respond so instinctively to the landscape that they will overcome. We make our introductions first with Braddan Johnson a seasoned hill runner and give him the space to reflect on his experience in the hills.