The Real Joy
After years of studying, living frugally, and anxious waiting, Lewis was awarded a Fellowship in English at Magdalen College in 1925. The position paid £500 a year with 'provisions made for rooms, a pension, and dining allowance.' No longer would Lewis and the Moores have to worry about living hand-to-mouth. A three-week holiday was planned to Cloud Farm at Oare on Exmoor. Almost immediately upon arrival, Mrs. Moore had a flare up of her rheumatism, and Lewis was obliged to walk ten miles round trip several times to fetch the doctor for her. Yet, he still managed to write daily in his journal, and recorded some wonderful times walking amongst the beautiful scenery of the Doone Valley:
Monday, 17 August 1925: I went through a wicket on to the moor and proceeded down hill. In front of me I saw a deep winding valley stretching as far as I could see to left and right and deeply wooded: at right angles to it on the far side, another and narrower combe (which I rightly took for Badgworthy) piercing well into the moor. After a few more steps I could see a broad flat brown river in the bottom before me. On my way down I had a glimpse of a fat fast snake in the bracken. I reached the river and forded it: shoes and socks in my left hand, a stick and Pat's* lead in the right.
Here, at the bottom, I was as if between walls: purple walls of heather behind me and green ones ahead: both unexpectedly steep when seen from that angle. I shall remember while I live the feel of that cold yet not biting water and the deliciously cool stones. It made amends for all the troubles of packing and journey.
Thursday, 3 September: Another wet day. I had only a short walk after tea when I explored Southern Wood for the first time; the evening sunlight, bright but very cold, was breaking out by now after a day of cloud. I left the ordinary path as soon as I had reached the top of the hill above Malmsmead.
In a moment I was out of sight of everything in a wood of nothing but oak, very low and tangled like a grove of sea weed. There was not a blade of grass to be seen, but the undisturbed moss grew deep on the ground and over the highest branches. The sunlight came slantwise through the trees and the wind roared. Then there were clearings where the path seemed to run straight up into the sky, and others from which I caught glimpses of the surrounding hills, new and hard to recognise from this position. In spite of all my glorious walks round here, it was in this little saunter only (so far) that I got the real joy...
~C.S. Lewis, All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C.S. Lewis 1922 - 1927, edited by Walter Hooper (1991)
*Pat was Lewis's dog