The King's View


Hammer strikes chisel, metal on metal. A heavy thunk as it cracks into stone. Mortar becomes dust. Dust is picked up by the breeze and disappears.

Repeat, day after day. How many stones make up a castle? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? Hewn from the ground, laid to rest, and 800 years later, I chip and chisel and hammer.

I really enjoy it here. Who wouldn’t? Sunshine, good mates and a 360-degree view from the top of a castle on the coast. The only limitation is my mind, and over the weeks I’ve created an imaginary landscape around me. 

Inland, the mountains rise to distant summits. Imagine running along that ridge-line? Or finding a hidden crag in that valley? The mountains entertain my mind and it’s wanderings. The horizon rolls and folds, a temptation from where I’d rather be.

In front of me is the sea. The tide rolls in, the river flows upstream. We must be on springs now, because dark green water races under the bridge, foaming and frothing. The tide turns, flowing out of the estuary now, and the yachts spin on their buoys to point in the other direction. 

My mind creates again. A sailing boat: but where would you sail? Big walls in Greenland? The Southern Ocean? The open water beckons.

The sea recedes further, leaving a scratch of bright sand in the estuary; a bare strip of a desert island. Down on the streets below the castle, cars buzz around the town like worker bees. There’s a hustle and bustle, a honk of the horn, a shout from one of the lads. I enjoy it here. Imagine the people who have stood here, seen this view. Soldiers; barons; kings?

In the evenings, with a few hours of light left, I snatch simple pleasures. Running, climbing, I’ll put off life admin for another day. I wonder when I’ll ever get a chance to catch up on everything. My constant desire to run, move, push, pull means the evenings are a golden opportunity to exercise. These short hours are precious. I have to focus on the big picture: Himalayan trips later this year.

Running again, and I’m soaked by the rain. Maybe I’ll only have a short run today, I think; I’m recovering from Ben and Tess’s wedding at the weekend. I jog up the road, leaving the village behind. Grey slate roofs are hunched together, tucked in against the storm.

Finding my motivation is harder this evening. Up the road, my legs push steadily. I run past a parked car, and it’s the local lad from down the street. I can hear the car’s thumping bass over the sound of my own thumping heartbeat. There’s two of them in the car, and they roll joints, completely oblivious to me jogging past. I’ve seen him rally drive around the village, skinhead and aggressive. Two different lives passing in the rain, and I’m glad I’m going uphill.

Into the mountains now, and they’re particularly unwelcoming. Storm clouds fire over the ridge. They skim just above the ground like a fighter jet, launched by strong winds. My hood’s up, head’s down, legs keep pushing. I doubt anyone else is out today - and why would they be? Weekday night, the lads are talking about getting pissed up in the pub. But here I am, slogging up a hill in the pissing rain. I wouldn’t swap this for anything.

I lure myself further, tricking my mind. One more hill, and before I know it, I’m going for the full circuit. Another hill, let’s have it! my mind encourages, catching up now. Push on, push up. Body and mind work together and I run on, with the mountains and wind and clouds.

The view from the top is bizarrely clear, and I'm suddenly delighted to be here. I can see it all: the hills, the Lleyn peninsula and Anglesey. It feels as if the view is all mine.


Another late finish by headtorch; legs will be tired in the morning. A thick brain-fog has settled over me again, too many long evenings - and perhaps trying to squeeze in too many miles. I collapse into bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow.