A Memory of the Cheviots

The Cheviot
The Cheviot

I remember once *begins filling pipe-bowl with tobacco* when I was walking on the Cheviots in 2008, I think it was. *packs tobacco down with thumb*. It had snowed heavily for a few days before and the snow was about six feet thick on the tops *puts pipe in mouth* *takes pipe back out of mouth* but on that day, you see, on that day it was beautiful weather. Not a cloud in the sky. Quite stunning, in many ways. *puts pipe back in again* *lights pipe*. Now then *accidentally inhales too much and brings up a lung* the top of the snow *wipes eyes* had frozen into a crust, so if you were careful, you could walk on the top, but if you trod too heavily, you’d go straight through. *goes to put pipe back in mouth, but thinks of something else to say first*

Of course, on the Cheviots *jabs mouth of pipe at the reader for emphasis* the top is blanketed. Blanketed, mark you, with peat bogs, up to six feet deep. Well, you can only imagine what it would be like if you fell through. *puts pipe back in, leans back in wing-backed armchair and puffs contentedly* I fell through, of course.

Fortunately I had a stick I had cut from the hazel coppice at Easton Farm Park and finished with a piece of red deer antler, which stopped me going all the way in. I was halfway up a short, steep hill, some miles from the nearest road. Not another soul had I seen all day, as I walked on the crisp, clean snow beneath bright, sparkling skies of purest blue, light wisps of cloud just gathering about the top of The Cheviot itself behind me – Scotland to my left and England to my right. The right leg went in first, followed swiftly by its companion, leaving me dangling off my stick and praying fervently that I had put the antler on properly, as the integrity of that joint was all that now prevented me from reaching an icy grave that day.

Some pile of rock or other
Some pile of rocks or other

I don’t quite know, now, how I did it, but I suppose the adrenaline starts to pump in moments like those and, after a few moments contemplation of my predicament, I suddenly found hitherto untapped reserves of strength, hauled myself out and continued on my way.

*taps pipe out into ashtray*

When I got back into town that evening, all the B&Bs were closed, because the weather was so bad, so I had to check into quite a posh hotel. I chatted up the manager a bit, who I’m pretty sure was Bowling from the Pavilion End, if you know what I mean, and got upgraded to their best suite, with an enormous bed and beautiful bathroom. I bathed in luxury before descending for dinner in an almost deserted restaurant.

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