Reading Time: 3 minutes

Janet's Foss Waterfall landscape in late autumn

It’s 5.30am on a Friday, I haven’t slept very well, I haven’t slept very well all week. My wife and two year old boy are asleep in the same bed after an unsettled and at times fractious night. I lightly kiss them both on the cheek and forehead, grab my camera bag and head downstairs. Our Lurcher Alfie is awake and happy to see me, he seems keen for an adventure. I hesitate for a second and then slip his collar on; it will be nice to have some company that is oblivious to the seismic changes our world seems intent on.  

The car is cold and quiet, and as the windscreen begins to fog I carefully drive to the end of our sleeping street and wait for the heating to warm the windows. I’ve been avoiding news broadcasts since the election of the most implausible US President in history. I take a gamble on BBC radio two.  It’s not Trump, but it’s not much better either, it’s Vanessa Feltz.

I can’t lay all the recent unrest I feel at the door of this businessman, come reality TV star, come politician. I have experienced this restlessness before Trump and I will experience it after (assuming there is an after!). I guess it never goes away, my restlessness, it just bubbles softly in the background and becomes inflamed from time to time.

The pre-rush hour roads are still empty, some people would be tempted to put their foot down and enjoy the thrill of the open road… but for now I just enjoy rolling along and embrace the comfort in the solitude.

When we get to Malham, there’s still a good twenty minutes or so until sunrise. A warm lava-like glow is beginning to appear between the murky blue-grey sky and darkened hills. I could make it to Malham Cove just in time to catch it. I don’t feel like rushing though and for some reason seeing a sunrise doesn’t have it’s usual allure. I continue to drive through Malham village and onto Gordale Scar.

The first sound as the car door opens is the rushing water of Gordale beck. I immediately know I’ve made the right decision, this is the place I needed to come. The calming sounds, that fresh pure smell, the clarity of the water and the cooling of the air as you approach. Everything about this water is soothing… healing. I want to bath in it. I want it to wash away my uneasiness, my indifference, my disappointments and my angst.

As I get closer to the water a dipper trajects itself to the safety of the opposite bank. It hangs around for a moment as I set up my tripod. Soon the need for food overcomes it’s curiosity and the Dipper flies off to find less busy waters. I slowly work my way up to Gordale Scar and then back down to Janet’s Foss, resisting an almost magnetic pull to immerse myself in its waters and trying to capture that same tension with my camera.

I haven’t seen a single person since arriving but as I start to pack up the tripod a spritely Spaniel comes leaping toward me and Alfie. I feel myself recoil as the  illusion is broken and the Spaniel’s custodian comes into view. But after exchanging some polite pleasantries I feel surprisingly comforted by this brief interaction. It’s time to leave, time to face the tasks lined up for the day and I leave these waters revived and encouraged… healed.