The weather map looked very colourful (= lots of rain forecast) for the day of our intended walk, and high winds were also predicted. However, Angela and I were more than keen to climb something – anything – despite the weather, so took a look at our options. The map ruled out anything south or west; east just didn’t call us; so we settled for north of central, and chose to re-climb Brewery Knob, which fell into a Goldilocks zone: not too high (i.e. windy), not too long a drive … not too anything really, and a nice little mountain sitting there at 1293 ms asl, protected a tiny bit by bigger friends close by. It got the foul-weather guernsey.
Good choice. It was a perfect mountain for the conditions. First, we climbed through a stretch of rainforest that is always rich and glorious, but especially so at this time of year when bright orange pilelets of fagus leaves clump together, attractively caught in the interconnected mosaic of shining roots that make mini-swimmingpools along the track. The contrast between the burnt orange leaves and the lurid green moss makes for a mesmerising beauty. We both vowed to do some photography on the way back down, but I am a goal-centred person, so we stuck to the programme of climbing first, games afterwards (not that climbing isn’t the grandest game of all).
As we changed gradient and forest type (after a tad under 30 mins’ walking), and took our first steps on the open Hounslow Heath, the expected wind hit us. On went coats, windproof gloves and more as we leant into the wind to continue. It was so loud – whistling in our ears and bashing our heads with its force – that conversation was impossible.
Similar to the first time I climbed this Knob with my husband, we struck a small band of thigh-high scoparia once on our compass bearing for the final part of the climb (the bearing revealing a slightly darker shape in the mist that we took to be our mount: I have yet to actually see it). We passed very cautiously through, both of us nervous about pin-pricking our beautiful new anoraks. Once on the plateau on top, vegetation was only about ankle high, and we were free to enjoy the huge sense of space made possible precisely because we could see nothing, but could feel infinity in the distance.
We were both delighted by our choice of mountain. It was perfect for that kind of weather, and, well, there’s a lot more to a mountain than the view it offers. The summit cairn is very attractive, and the feeling of being in a wild place, marvellous. It almost felt as if we were the only two living souls left on earth up there; it’s wonderful to escape the treadmill of modernity with its reduction of creativity and freedom, and its terror of risk and litigation that stifles every move and suffocates being kind and decent to one another.