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Often after i’ve been given a run out to the other side of the Pennines, I’ll try to stop for my main break somewhere on the Woodhead Pass on my return journey.

My favourite place is right at the top, on the high bleak section of moorland between Langsett and Crowden.

I love to lie down to sleep with the lorry being buffetted by the strong winds and hearing the rain bouncing on the cab roof. There’s something oddly comforting about feeling warm and secure in such an environment; the foul weather outside and the cosy hum of the night-heater keeping me toasty on the inside.

That said, even on a fine night it’s a good place to stop as often you will awake to stunning views over the Peak moorland which  is a much nicer environment to come to in than some piss-stinking lorry-park at an anonymous motorway services.

A cold morning on the Woodhead Pass

A cold morning on the Woodhead Pass

A few weeks ago I reached the top of the pass and pulled in behind a white van. The weather was foul, freezing with horizontal rain and I watched with mild interest as the driver of the van was struggling in the wind with something in the back of his van. I had parked very close to him as the layby is only small and he darted me a look which wasn’t angry but not exactly overjoyed to see me either.

I thought it must have been my headlights pissing him off so I dipped them and jumped out of the wagon for a quick piss around the back.  When I got back in, ready for my sleep, he was strugling with a large sheet of cardboard trying to lay it down on the floor in the gale. This wasn’t really working but eventually he manged to stand on it on the floor.

Next he starts to take his shoes off – I watched bemused thinking “what the fuck are you up to?” until when he starts to prostrate himself it suddenly sinks in – he’s praying! The soggy cardboard was his prayer mat and he’s doing  it there in order to face the Kaaba in Mecca.

Suddenly I feel guilty that I’m intruding so I pull shut the curtains and turn off the wagon lights. As I climb on to the bunk I hear him reciting his prayer into the gale.

I’m amazed at the dedication of some people to their religion. I felt bad for feeling like a spectator on what no doubt was quite a personal moment, but to an atheist like me it just didn’t register what he was trying to do or occur to me that somebody would worship in such a foul environment.

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