The Call of the Wild
The Green Dragon Inn is a wonderful rustic pub in the heart of Hardraw, England. This 13th Century pub is everything that you'd expect from a traditional building. Stone walls, flagstone floors, roaring log fires, and creaking beams. There is an abundance of mismatched wooden furniture on which to sit and rest weary feet and aching legs.
The pub is a beacon for walkers in the area, providing food and drink to those who've spent their days out on the hills. Hardraw is a tiny settlement close to the village of Hawes in the English county of Yorkshire. Known as “God's Own Country”, Yorkshire is famed for many things including its rolling hills and endless skies. The beautiful countryside and quaint towns and cities attract people from all over the world.
But the Green Dragon also contains a secret and, on a warm autumnal day, you're going to go looking for it.
You're enjoying a drink before one of the log fire and taking in the peacefulness of the mostly-empty pub. There is a quiet murmur of conversation from other drinkers and the sound of muddy walking boots on stone floors. From the bar comes the gentle hiss of drinks being poured and the clink of glasses being moved around. You're focused on the fire and willing yourself to stand so that you can take a walk through the building and to what lies in the trees beyond.
Once you've finished your drink, you get to your feet and begin to walk through the pub. The warmth of the fire is suddenly a distant memory but the sun is still shining and there is a hint of summer left in the air.
As you exit the pub, you find yourself on a stone path that leads you beside another building. You continue to walk until there are trees on one side of you and the gentle swell of hills on the other. Water can be heard cascading along the nearby Hardraw Beck.
Nature is incredibly rejuvenating and you enjoy being among the trees and walking across the grass. You come across a small circular stone wall and, as you're the only person around, you step into it to investigate. There isn't much there but the sense of childlike wonder is strong within you. You pause there for a moment to take in the clear air and the gentle breeze. Any time spent outside of brick and mortar buildings is, to you, a blessing.
You eventually step back onto the path and continue you on your way. The roaring of water grows louder as you walk from a mostly open field and into the sweet embrace of the trees. Civilisation feels as though it is a thousand miles away as the shade of leaves closes over you. You are alone with the water and the earth and you have never felt the kind of peace that you feel in that moment. The waterfall is still out of sight but you can hear, and feel, its power.
Rounding the final bend, you find yourself face to face with Hardraw Force. Nestled in the same ravine that you find yourself in, the waterfall drops over the edge of Hardraw Scar and into a pool below. From there it filters into Hardraw Beck. The area has become famous for a number of reasons. It claims to be the country's highest unbroken outdoor waterfall with a drop of one hundred feet and has been featured in numerous books, poems, and cinematic moments.
Recent rains have caused the becks and rivers to swell with water and so the water falls with a roar that may not be heard at the height of summer. You walk up onto the wooden arched bridge and rest your arms on the railing. Staring at the water is soothing in ways that you could never have imagined an hour beforehand.
In the heart of the ravine and in the presence of the waterfall you feel small. The edge of the rocky ravine may only be a hundred feet above you but the feeling of insignificance is overwhelming. You can't quite understand how you live in a universe that is so big, nor before a natural phenomenon that has existed before you were born and will continue to be here long after you are gone. Everything seems so improbable yet, at the same time, so probable. Everything is beautiful and stunning and you can't quite gather the words to describe what you're seeing.
Layers of craggy rock sweep around you, the evidence of millennia of erosion on show for all to see. And you get to witness it alone. You aren't surrounded by people who are jostling for the best positions, nor making a noise, nor scrabbling over the rocks. You have the joy of peace and solidarity in which to enjoy the moment.
Trees arch over the stone-swirled water and their leaves shelter you from the afternoon sun. Through them you can see flecks of sky which is beginning to darken as the sun drifts further east. You have plenty of time before sunset and you take another moment to breathe in the water-cleared air.
Stepping from the bridge, you follow the pebbly path closer to the flow of water. Gravel crunches beneath your feet and the spray of water kisses your face.
You sit on a bench beside the rocky pool and watch as water creates a swirl of white foam. The sound of the cascade is divine and you still as you listen. Everything about the area sings to your soul and draws you into being a part of its history. Your presence will forever be embedded in the area as others ponder over who was in that space before them. Time and the link to a natural wonder will join every passing person.
As the air begins to cool and the sun falls a little lower, you stand and bid farewell to the waterfall. You know that you will return and, with the sound of water at your back, you begin your journey back to the Green Dragon and the warmth of eternally burning log fires.
You can see a short video on Hardraw Force here.
Rachael's books have covered a variety of topics including the music industry, mental health, and the paranormal side of Hollywood. They can be found at www.roswellpublishing.co.uk