Intimacy in the Expanse

Up high on the vast, open swathes of moorland, the landscape is limited only by the framing of our human vision. A concerted effort to strain your eyes wider, beyond their natural aperture, reveals yet more aching openness, the horizon wide and expansive; open, wild, raw.

Yet within these great vistas of peat, grit, limestone and heather, brought to life in sudden bursts by the guttural shrieking of flushed grouse, lays one of the countryside’s great dichotomies: the wider the expanse and greater the openness, the deeper the introspection that is attained and attuned.

I gaze outwards, to gaze inwards. Scanning the jagged landscape allows me to explore the contours of my own mind and soul, in ways that are seemingly constricted by the confines of urban environments.

And for me, weather – especially in the Peak District – is a natural phenomenon that only exacerbates this feeling. Out here, weather clings to the landscape with resolute stoicism: clouds latch onto moorland hilltops and sit there, passive and yet active, shrouding the slopes with mystery and promising a deeper escapism than fair weather permits.

For me, walking in bad weather in the Peak District has become something of a pilgrimage. When mist envelops the landscape in secrecy, or engorged clouds sit heavy and swollen on peat moorland, it draws with almost magnetic power: escape, escape, escape.

Bad weather only exacerbates the feeling of intimacy and introspection when walking in this raw, elemental environment. The expanse of the outdoors rewards me with the physical and mental escape from urban living, but the weather adds an even greater level of intimacy to the experience. I am lost in an expanse of moorland, yet this vast panorama is made intimate and framed by the immediacy of the weather affecting it.

It is a feeling of enclosure within expansiveness.

And this is what I tried to capture with a camera, on a cold, windswept rainstorm in February.

MusingsCallum Saunders