The Psychological Landscape
An author writing about the Cairngorms discussed the psychological landscape as opposed to the physical one. I wondered what that meant. Psychological, of course, relates to the mind or mental activity. It struck me that this is really all about me, my need to be outdoors. I think it takes me back to a school holiday, in fact, my only holiday as a kid. The wealthy kids, whose parents could pay the rent, went to Austria and we poor kids went youth hostelling in North Wales. It was a revelation to me and the weather gods looked kindly upon us. As soon as I left school, it was head for the hills and it was the psychological landscape that ensnared me.
I have spent over 60 years climbing, mountain walking and caving. However, I realise now that it was all about being there. North Wales, The Lakes, Yosemite and Grindalwald are not so much places as feelings. I love those places because there I can enact my desires, feel free and relaxed, enmeshed in the landscape. However, advancing age and a desire to reduce my carbon footprint has moderated the way I now see the landscape. This was why Ann and I moved to the Peak District. It is my dream location and was from the moment I had a motorbike. In the Shrewsbury Mountaineering Club, I was puzzled. Scotland drew so many climbers and walkers whilst I hated the lousy, long drive and then the midges. Why did members not go to the Peak District?
The psychological landscape
So, I bought a map. It cost me 8 shillings, which was not cheap, and I still have it.To say the map excited me is to put it lightly. I was fascinated and had to go. With a friend on a scooter, me on my motorbike, we rode via Leek and climbed onto the Pennines near the Roaches. Moors, rocks, heather, wildness and, then, wallabies. The Peak District was nothing but potential, with rocks, caves and dales hiding in every nook and cranny. Okay, it was wet too. We camped and spent little because we had little. However, that excitement never left. I still lie in bed and dream of routes to run and walk. Those summits, those dells, those mountain pansies, those trees, my psychological landscape.
ps. The wildflowers are Dovedale moss, a favourite