The Chevin, Otley, West Yorkshire In the waning light the massed black-headed gulls move like a cloud of incense
The light that drenches the far side of Wharfedale has the translucence of burning coal, burnishing fields with the illusion of deep warmth. But it presages the onset of a bitterly cold night; the meagre heat of the winter sun is lost as my surroundings, the Danefield woods on the Chevin escarpment, are plunged into dusk.
My run has been prolonged by enthusiasm. Now I feel as exposed as a North Sea swimmer, the heat of my body’s movement the only thing that fends off the searing cold. Arriving with an Arctic air mass, a stinging wind sweeps from the north, is lifted up by the escarpment, and slices straight through my woefully inadequate clothing. The light on the opposite side of the valley deepens into an orange tauntingly redolent of a late summer evening, but pausing to admire it for too long would genuinely tempt hypothermia. I swerve around people swaddled in down jackets, get my feet tangled around dogs, and generally plough onwards.