I am standing on the top of a hill.
The Atlantic breeze is ruffling my hair .
The sun is warm on my back.
Down below, the sea is blue, with white sea horses.
Overhead the sky is blue with wisps of white cloud.
If I stood on my head I would be confused as to which was the sky and which was the sea.
The hill is of white/grey smooth flat stone, as far as my eye can see.
In terraced platforms, this stone wends its rocky way till it meets the sea.
Then, the vast stony stage slips lazily into the foam.
And its very beautiful .
So beautiful I am willing to risk leaving my yellow bike to its own devices .
For whilst other women (and men ) go to a Spa for a hot stone massage and the like, I go barefoot walking across warm burren stone.
But not all things of great beauty are accessed with ease .
First I have to cycle past the barking farm dogs which have waited all day in this remote place for a car to chase.
and if no car comes by, a bike will do.
I kick out at them but they are really cowards.
If I dismount and shout loudly enough they slink away, tail between their legs.
My next obstacle is a hill which eventually proves too steep for the yellow bike and I get off to walk the last section of the road.
Rounding a bend, the last farmhouse disappears from view, then its down hill at last.
I lift my feet off the pedals and stretch them out like wings and fly, down, down, down.
All the way into the secret valley below.
St Macdara built a small church in this valley centuries ago, and I would guess the peacefulness remains the same.
The church is now a pile of stones covered in briars but you can sense the holiness of the place.
Its to the sanctity of this heap of stones that I entrust my yellow bicycle.
I give the saddle a pat and set off down a grassy track.
Past a ring fort and some gnarled Hawthorn trees.
Is it my imagination or do I get a distinct feeling of being watched?
I look back but there is no one around.
Only the yellow bike leaning forlornly against the stones.
The whispered tinkle I hear is of a nearby stream.
I follow a path worn smooth by cattle, foxes, badgers, hares and maybe other invisible beings .
The grass on either side is soft with flowers and steep rocky outcrops hold us in.
The only sounds now are the far off bellow of a cow and the sigh of the breeze coming up through the valley .
I walk along steadily, jumping over the odd muddy patch where cow’s hooves have sunk into the soft earth.
I glance up at the rock’s towering over the valley, they are solemn and still and look as though they feed on their young (Who knows what really goes on in this valley when night falls)
Around the last outcrop and my way is barred by a hazel wood.
A large spider has closed the entrance with her web.
She sits royally bedecked in brown and bronze, her web bejewelled with late dew.
I search and find a tight gap to squeeze through further down .
The hazel woods are of another world.
Gnarled twisted branches grasp and pull my hair as the cool greenness envelopes me.
Now and then I have to squeeze sideways between the tree’s as though the path was not made for the width and tallness of humans.
I scramble over moss covered rocks and kneel and dip my hands in still dark pool’s.
I am hot now for all the wooded green coolness.
I pat the bracken water on my face and feeling refreshed, continue on, when suddenly, as if a pair of theatre curtains swing open, I am out on a giant stage.
The sun blinds me for an instant and I blink and breath deeply.
Then I bend and take off my damp sandals and lay them on the rocks.
Like the yellow bike, it will be a few hours before I see my footwear again.
I stand tall in bare feet and flex my toes.
I mould my feet to the contour of the stone. warm now from the sun and as smooth as Italian marble.
I feel the heat rise up through my soles and reach my heart.
I start to walk, cautiously at first, watching where I place each step, but, after a while I forget to look down as my feet find their own way.
I begin to spring confidently at an even pace and even leap across the crevasses in which alpine, tundra, and Mediterranean flowers grow. Lady’s bedstraw. Crows foot. Gentian. Rock rose. Geranium.
All growing side by side, their delicate heads sheltered from the wild Atlantic storms.
I am moving faster now but without effort my feet taking on their own rhythm.
I take care not to stretch out my arms for I fear I might discover I can fly!
At one point a flock of goldfinches swoop and keep pace with me, scolding loudly, their tiny heads a flash of red until they disappear over a rocky edge, and I am alone again with my stones.
I am working my way parallel to the sea but heading downwards all the same.
I trust my bare feet and let them lead me.
I pass the bones of some unfortunate cow(who perhaps thought she could fly).
And suddenly a startled Hare leaps from its shelter between two stones and bounds gracefully away.
I begin to understand how it works here. Some hare dropping in a crevasse, some rain and a single seed of a magenta geranium. that’s all it takes.
I feel guilty, large and awkward and human, and very unnecessary in this bleak but magical landscape.
Here and there it looks as though giants from another world were at war, flinging boulders at each other.
I stay here to eat my apple and lean my back against a rock .
The sun is now high and the breeze has dropped.
The white horses gone and the sky is a clear blue. A hawk is circling above me probably watching a field mouse or a shrew.
My eye’s droop……
.A small figure with a white owls feather in his cap rides the back of a hawk.
Another small Being with speedwell threaded through her silken hair, is feeding flies to a giant spider.
A group of tiny noisy individuals are dancing madly around the twirling yellow bike to the sound of shrill music.
I open my eyes.
The sun has dropped in the sky.
…The Hare and the hawk are gone.
And I am gone too, racing back across the now cooling stone, pulling back on my shoes running down through the hazel wood and back to St MacDara’s church where the yellow bike stands blinking innocently in the evening light.
But what about my feet you ask?.
Ahhh My feet?
My feet are soft and silky and warm and as smooth as the limestone marble of the beautiful Burren.