The beauty of the Peak District comforts STEPHEN SCOURFIELD
I’ve put on my walking boots and I’m footloose on a well-trodden path in the Peak District.
My father is dying in his stone cottage in Castleton, in the valley below me.
Just for an hour, I need to be up here in moving air.
I need to breathe.
I packed my boots as “one luxury item” in the scramble to find a flight to get from Perth to northern England. Some instinctive foresight forewarned me of the stifling nature of death (cups of tea, muting sadness, trying to say it all, watching for signs of a final decline).
I brought my boots, and each day I step out of the pre-emptive mausoleum of my father’s cottage, and into the fresh air.
I walk up the peak paths, grateful for breathing space.
For with the diagnosis of terminal myeloma, my father resigned his role as a director of the cosmetics company Revlon in London and bought and ran the Three Roofs Cafe, here in a beautiful valley in Derbyshire.
It seemed a rather odd decision, until I knew why.
It seemed rather random but now I understand.
My father has been happy here. The four years during which he has been sucked inexorably into death have, perhaps, been his happiest. He has a strong connection to this place and the people here.
He is the most peaceful he has ever been. He’s the nicest he’s ever been.
We’ve reconnected, in these final throes... and that throws up all sorts of stuff, of course.
I need to roam, as uncontrollable emotions trespass on my heart.
I am grateful for the right to roam.
I am not oblivious to how it has come about...
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