Thin winter sunshine lit the sandstone blocks scattered across the Valley of Rocks. Jumbled remnant of a stratum long ago ground to fragments by Ice Age glaciers, they lie incongruous amidst thick upland grass. This is how great swathes of the hills looked thousands of years ago. Quite why this valley kept its rocks isn't clear.
But I'm glad that it did. The Valley of Rocks feels archaic in a way that only a place long untouched really can. It's a tiny scrap of wilderness within the busy south of a populous island. Coming here is to step away from the pedestrian reality of life. It's like riding into a dream landscape that invites one to pause. Maybe not for long on a cold breezy day, but to stop and take in the atmosphere nonetheless.
It's a good place to remind a horse to think about where to place feet. Brena stepped carefully, picking a way across this peculiar landscape. She's familiar with rough ground, of course. It's a place too where a horse can be shown new things. To begin with, lots of rocks. Some horses do find this valley intimidating to begin with. I've met people lost down here too, and some of them were decidedly glad for directions.
I'd like to see the Valley of Rocks in moonlight. Now that would be very atmospheric. Maybe I'd come on foot. At least first I might try Brena in the moonlight closer to home on a familiar trail.
In crisp moonlight, through the heat of a midsummer day, veiled by drifting mist, sparking in dewy dawn, blanketed by fresh snow, lingering on a warm evening. There are so many ways to see this valley. I'll try to experience a few more this year.