Facing Fear with The Silent Eye, Part 1 – Arrival

I recently attended a workshop, with The Silent Eye, about Facing Our Fears, an extraordinary weekend spent among the hills and grey stone villages of the Peak District. It’s taken me a little while, as it usually does, to process everything that happened. Once again there was history and mystery, good company and tasty food, old friends greeted and new friends made. And, as always, revelations.This is part one of my account…

My journey began on Friday 13th, amid the hustle and bustle of St Pancras station, my train waiting beneath the great arcing span of glass. Perhaps it was the day – I’d given myself plenty of time to get there, yet still found myself rushing at the last moment, a wrong turn taken meaning I had to run the length of the station to get to my platform. But I made it on board and settled in for a pleasant journey through London and out into the green, past the dreaming spires of St Albans and further north, buildings of golden brick changing to red, then to grey stone.

This weekend was to be given over to fear, so I reflected on what that could mean as we headed north. I don’t particularly care for spiders, but I wasn’t sure the weekend would involve me facing countless arachnids. Heights? Maybe – we were going to be wandering the moors and high places, so I wondered whether that would be part of the challenge. Then I went deeper, to more primal fears. The loss of family, of home. Of life itself. One thing I knew – to expect the unexpected. These weekends tend to work in mysterious ways, and it was probably best if I just accepted that and went along with things, knowing that I was among friends and in full control as to what, if anything, I chose to experience.

The train discharged me at Sheffield, where I had a 15-minute wait for the local train bearing me into the hills. Once on board, we entered a long tunnel, a strange transition through darkness. On one side the industrial town; on the other, small villages and green hillsides, quaint stations with names like Grindleford and Hathersage. I had only a short journey to Hope, where I’d arranged to be picked up and taken to Tideswell, where I’d be staying for the weekend.

Tideswell is a beautiful village, all grey stone and pointed roofs, mullioned windows winking in the sunshine. It was a glorious day – the sun shining, sky blue, warm enough for a light jacket, even in the hills. Once dropped off, I made my way into the pub where I was staying, being shown to a room with a four-poster bed, of all things, before enjoying an excellent lunch in the small dining room, bounded by ancient oak beams and flagstone floors.

Then it was time to go. Sue and Stu had offered to pick me up and, at the allotted time, I went outside to be greeted with hugs and smiles. Then we hit the road, heading for the village of Eyam. I was excited to be going there, having enjoyed reading Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, a fictionalised version of the events that took place in the mid 1600s when plague came to Eyam. I’d also watched a fascinating documentary about the descendants of the survivors of that terrible time, all of whom still carried antibodies for the plague which also, apparently, rendered them immune to HIV, as both viruses work in a similar manner. (I’m in no way an expert on this – I’m just stating what was reported in the documentary – apparently these antibodies are being studied in the hopes of developing more effective HIV treatment). Eyam, quite simply, was a place with a story. And I love stories.

But I was not prepared for Eyam…


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61 thoughts on “Facing Fear with The Silent Eye, Part 1 – Arrival

  1. A cliffhanger, even though I was there and know what happened next… at least in part.
    I always look forward to your accounts of these wekends, Helen. We know what we are hoping to convey, but we learn such a lot from seeing the journey through your eyes too. xx

    • Yes, sorry for the cliffhanger! We did joke a bit about the number of posts I’d be writing about this weekend, and so it seems 🙂 I’m three posts in and I’ve only covered the first afternoon! And thank you – I’m so pleased you like reading my accounts, and what I saw. You do take me on some wonderful journeys 🙂 xx

      • Time does its own thing when we get together…and bears little relation to the hours that elapse according to the clock 😉 I couldn’t believe how much we had experienced that first afternoon… and I was one of those who planned it! xx

      • Haha! Yes, it does seem to twist – that first afternoon seemed to last twice as long as a regular afternoon… And as for Saturday – well. I think I’ll need a dozen posts to cover that day 🙂 xx

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  3. Ah, such lovely photos – looks like you were smiled upon by the weather gods! Visited Eyam years ago – it’s a go-to school trip destination locally, as you’d imagine. The most memorable of villages, but I shan’t say anymore, just wait for your post. A little insider knowledge – many people refer to Tideswell locally as ‘Tidser’ and Eyam is always pronounced ‘Eem’. Don’t ask me why, just one of those northern things 🙂 Lovely post, Helen

    • Thanks Lynn. We were indeed smiled upon by the weather gods – both Friday and Saturday were gloriously golden. Sunday was a little more grey and drizzly, but honestly it didn’t matter at all 🙂 And Eyam was… a peculiar place. I’d happily go back to other Peak District villages any time, but not that one… 🙂

      • It has a whole lot of history bundled into a tiny place – unpleasant history, but courage too. The most important thing – did the visit inspire any story ideas? 🙂 Looking forward to further posts.

      • Yes, courage and loss and sorrow – quite an intense sort of place, that’s for sure. I might have had a few small story ideas, and a bit more inspiration for a larger one that’s been brewing for a while… 🙂

    • Haha, sorry Craig! I know it was a bit of a cliffhanger. There was just so much that happened, I can’t get it all into one blog post. And yes, definitely a few story ideas floating around up there. 🙂

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