Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Devil's Jumps

The Devil’s Jumps are not far from the Devil’s Punchbowl: the Adversary was particularly active around this bit of southwest Surrey, it seems, but having had a recommendation of the Jumps as a place to go for a walk I set out there. There are three small, steep hills, the Jumps, but only one is publicly accessible. I’ve never had cause to venture west of Thursley before: the narrow lanes of stone- and brick-built cottages and farms give way to straight, pine-lined roads of modern houses, and a footpath leads off one of these which eventually takes you up to the Stony Jump. The heathy ground rises steeply, and in front of the great mound, to either side of the toiling path, are colossal fallen pines, long-dead and bleached: there’s a sort of apocalyptic feel to the landscape, as though you're ascending towards the abode of some ogre. Your reward for the long climb is a patch of grass, a plank bench, and an outcrop of rust-coloured sandstone, worn by the wind into layers and whorls. You can see quite a distance.

The sun was striving against the clouds as I headed back along the footpaths to the road. I found myself so very grateful for the fact that I was there, able to walk there and see, hear, feel, smell. And how astonishing a thing is a human being, able to process the landscape with all these senses and reflect on them. Nothing else can do this: blunt, in comparison to those of animals, though our senses are, we alone can say to ourselves, I am feeling this, others can feel something of this, this is, perhaps, what it means. This is what the language of ‘having a soul’ is maybe about.

1 comment: