Leaving home, I wished a quick 'good morning' to Lady Buzzard who was taking a rest from her day on the roof of Big Black Van. I knew this was a particularly telling sign as I left for Anglezarke.
A fine mist dwelled on the upland, silvering the moors with a damp, wintery sheen and stealing the near horizon from view. Emerald mosses sponged between peaty pools, liberty caps poked their pointy crowns through the sheep shorn pastures as a raven sirened from an unseeable sky.
The Spirit of Round Loaf had called and I ventured up to her land in answer. Fifty steps ahead was all I was allowed to see as I followed my memory lines out into the unforgiving void of the Moor.
Nothing familiar revealed itself as I strode my way through bog, tasting the peat on the fog wet air. Lost in the thickening gloom I strayed south of my intended route, guided by a big black dog shape that I occasionally glimpsed on the edge of sight.
This unknowable shadow led me to a place I knew from my youth, Devil's Ditch. 'Ah, so this is the way you want me to enter this sacred space' I mused. Staff in hand, I clambered across swallow bogs, spooking slumbering snipe as I traced my way wherever dog shadow led until, long before it was expected, Round Loaf loomed ghost like from the dying heather.
Offering words of gratitude I climbed to the zenith of the burial mound and, in answer to a cold moody wind, regaled the Spirit of the Place with a strange story that rose from a land far away many lifetimes ago.
Dog Shadow circled the mound, keeping to the edge of reality, kicking pinpricks of light from the dank air, stars from the other universe breaking through the Samhain veil. Silence followed the storytelling, a breeze of connection glancing over the wet lands in reply.
A harvestman spider climbed onto the foot of my wellington boot and then slowly made its way up my leg and along my arm to rest on the back of my hand. Here we sat together for an hour, held by a landscape to which our ancestors belonged.
Harvestman then wandered back down me and I took my cue and headed back. Ten minutes after walking away from Round Loaf I was unsettled to find the mound only a few steps behind me. Such is the nature of space and time in this special place at Samhain.
If you would like to enjoy a taste of Samhain in the valley that leads to the moors watch the video below.