A piece of writing regarding a place, such as the hills surrounding the Lancashire town where you’ve grown up, becomes impossible to capture without some degree of sentimentality. You may write, in specific detail, of aesthetics and landscape, down to the intricate details of a single blade of grass. But what would this matter without history, without the emotions that are drawn from yourself and from others when experiencing such locations? How could you do it justice?
This can be observed all the more clearly when trying to capture such locations on film. Upon pressing record, you find that something is simply missing.
The reality of this outdoors, exposed to the elements and the shrill cries of birds, is cold.
The skin hums from the touch of the wind. Pink webs its way across arms and cheeks to form a flush, as blood slows through constricted vessels. Goosebumps appear in flickers of sensation across the arms, as hairs rise to trap the escaping warmth. Stones cause your feet to arc in unnatural ways, curling to accommodate the ground. You adapt yourself to the environment, or you kick the rocks away. The trees make noises that cannot be justly captured by the artificial ear. The winter sun, a fierce brightness that makes you squint, even at this early stage of the morning, is muted by the lens.
Your feet turn numb, slowly, beginning at the toes. Midges, though the cold should have killed them by now, bite. Somewhere, a fellow walker calls their dog to heel. The purple heather of summer is stripped now, brown. It scratches across denim as the drag of your boots parts the stems. Across the coppice, there is the faintest sound of water from the Goyt.
Through the lens of a camera, the scene loses its authenticity.
It is not possible for the camera to capture the memory of a mid-August picnic in the rain. A wind that shook wrappers from your hands, which you rushed to recapture quickly before they could disappear across the landscape. Looking behind you, you could have seen the town where you started, the outlines of neighbouring cities. Where you sat, you would face the hills. Raising your head, you would appreciate the still blazing heather, purple and cloud-like, subdued only slightly by the clouds. As it was, the weather triumphed, and you would see your boots, muddied and soaked, resting on slabs of rock as you tucked in your chin to your chest, conserving warmth. But where is this in your recording?