At 80+ Narrowing Horizons? Or Change of Focus?


This is heaven!  A converted barn in deepest Derbyshire with the scent of roses, sun and shade and free to do what I choose. 


It is on the edge of the Peak District National  Park.  And I am in nostalgia land. This is my walking country, my hills, my well loved routes, my beloved maps. Every weekend for years I was in this landscape, boots on and ready for miles of discovery. 

It could be the  northern Dark Peak of the of heather moors and the gritstone Edges,


Or the  the southern White Peak, where I am now.  White because it is limestone country. And because it is a porous soft stone, the water starved upland is treeless, an open, a striding out landscape, rolling for miles. But the sinking water has carved long, deep, green, trout stream gorges through it…. the Derbyshire Dales. 


 Love it. Mine! Go!

No. No longer ….

                  The horizons have closed down, I am old.  

The Knees have given up on hills and the Balance isn’t too keen on rough ground either.  Eighty two years and they have had enough.    Now I drive to high points and walk on gentler paths.

Does that mean life is closing in?

No again!  And for two reasons.

First, I have memories.

I can look at a map or a path or a hill and I can rewalk it in my head. Even smell it and feel the wind or hear the crunch of snow.


Look at this, the lower end of Dovedale. Can you see the path to the right, from the stepping stones up the very strange flat topped hill of Thorpe Cloud?

Now, this is the view of it from Ilam Hall YHA gardens, the red triangle at the left of the map.


I sit there in a reverie rewalking all those paths.  It is an enormous pleasure to revisit many great days in this rough tough landscape. Very odd, but I feel no need to do them again!

One of the many delightful surprises in this Strange Land of Old Age, has been this calm acceptance, this adjustment to later life. The change of pleasures that one cannot imagine at all when you are younger.


Second, my focus has altered.

In younger days I headed for the heights regardless. Or for distance, measuring myself against the map miles with pride.

Now I do regard. I look, I notice, plants, rock patterns, tree bark textures, insects, birds and Curiosity has a wonderful time. Questions forever.  ‘Why did they build that barn that shape? What made that track through that wall? How and why did they choose such a huge stone?


One question for a stranger going up on these high pastures is “What are all these holes?” Hollows everywhere you look. And in our pretty little village, the pub sign gives the answer. From Roman  times for near 2000 years this was a major lead  mining area. These were lead shafts.  Curiosity has to get  to the local Museum and find out more.

Another new delight is seeing.   Really seeing, creating pictures, framing views,  shadows, shapes and sun on dewdrops….. Time to stand and stare.  Just lovely. And aren’t camera phones brilliant! A new addition to life.


And then there is problem solving!

Set off on a gentle path and there it is:  a stile, a high stile, a narrow stile….???? How do I do that now? Not simple anymore! Serious objections from both Knees and BalanceArms have their say too!  And Curiosity of course wants to know “Why are such Age Unfriendly stiles on public paths nowadays anyway?”


Then we find a steep bit of path, rough and slippery….turn round? No! Find a branch to grab, and a second one , maybe a third?  Made it!

It seem as big a success, generates as much pride as reaching the tops 60 years ago! I can still do tough things. But the challenges are different now!

 PS This Easter, 4 weeks after major abdominal surgery. I managed to do this!

Reached the top of the Malvern Beacon. Slow but steady. So good to be up there again. Felt like we had made Everest!


  1. August 28, 2018 / 11:52 pm

    Brings back happy memories of walking with you on some of those trails, when we – and our knees – were younger.

  2. rinaross
    September 18, 2018 / 9:20 am

    Just back from a week end in Wales. I saw your post and identified with it completely. Love its title. At 83, I am in the process of changing focus….

  3. jemima
    May 11, 2019 / 4:35 pm

    thank you for that beautiful photo of the map; so much more wonderful and evocative than a google map. well, different anyway. and the youth hostel; those have changed a lot over the years, too. i look forward to more adaptations and focus-changes. and as the old bones and joints show their wear, i’m happy to take more time looking at the views on the steeper hills.
    keep on keeping on!

    ps: congratulations on returning so swiftly to the joys and your post after your major op.

  4. eremophila
    May 11, 2019 / 9:27 pm

    Bravo Joyce! I applaud your indomitable spirit.☺
    Glad as always to read of your adventures and reflections.
    A few weeks ago I crawled and wriggled through small cave spaces, with a small group of other crazy people. I was at least 20 years older than them, 40 years for some!

  5. Maureen Helen
    May 12, 2019 / 5:28 am

    Wonderful story, beautiful pictures, thank you Joyce. A year or two ago, walking on a beach in Western Australia, I told my husband I was pleased I could still climb rocks, just a little. ‘No, love,’ he said. ‘This is just a slightly rocky path.’ He was right. It was just that my knees were mistaken.

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