With one notable distraction, the days of late have been dominated by work - preparation for the launch of another outdoor brand, travel for trade shows at home and abroad - time consumed by thoughts of the latest gear, market trends, campaign proposals...and with such focus comes greater awareness of how far removed so much of this is from the real reasons I spend the time that remains as I do. An afternoon in the sun, walking a familiar moorland edge, picking off the boulders at will, some taxing, some easy - there's them yer can do and them yer can't as the saying goes - went a long way to restoring fractured winter sanity.
Rylstone Cross through the pines. It's been some time since I approached the crag from this direction, though not so many years ago it was a regular jaunt, the climbs here among my favourite in The Dales. How well I remember an afternoon with Karl, when having climbed the Kilnsey classic, The Diedre (E2, 5a, 5b), we nipped up to Rylstone to climb another four routes including The Hot Line (E1, 5b) and Beached Whale (E2, 5b) - it was one of those perfect days when faith and friction met in equal measure, the sort of day when you know with every move, that this is what you were meant to be doing. How simple life seemed.
In search of that same simplicity, I passed along the edge, stopping occasionally to inspect a line, pick off another boulder, or simply sit in the sun, the only sound that of the grouse and gentle wind in the heather.
Approaching the cross...
...having bottled yet another attempt at High Flying Adored (E1, 5b) - at 8m it is a short route, more an extended boulder problem, but an icy finish and dicy landing put pay to any real commitment to top out. After climbing the easy arete pictured above, the line follows a hand traverse to the lip of the overhang and a dynamic finish. Bold but satisfying - so says the guide book - I'm sure one day it will be.
Through the afternoon, the sun came and went, slow moving cloud periodically plunging all into chill shade, yet never seeming to touch the burnished bracken on the shoulder beneath Cracoe's memorial obelisk.
I finished the afternoon there, dropping back along the edge as the moor began to glow in the late afternoon, winter sun.