In my mental landscape, Bristol is a city of hills, not towers. Although, one local tower – the Purdown Transmitter, or BT Tower loomed large in my imagination. Not least because it looked more like some kind of alien space station, than a building that belonged at the north eastern edge of 1980s Bristol.
Three poems recently shared via Black Bough Poetry’s @Toptweettuesday on Twitter.If you enjoy reading this, I also recently had some other poems published by Ink Sweat & Tears and Briefly Write – click the links to view. If you’re really, really interested, even more can be found in the Published Elsewhere page on this very…
What if your average numbered walking guide, turned out to do much more – going beyond the basic geography to be predictive, intuitive, even psychic? If that happened, it might go something like this…
I often find it’s the unexpected encounters, or ‘walk shocks’, that make a particular trip memorable.
That was certainly true of at least three I’ve been on this year – plodding along, looking out for particular views, famous sites, when, wham! something, usually from the more-than-human world, was suddenly present, changing the view, changing the day, changing everything.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that “nature” isn’t always, or only, to be found somewhere else. I was reminded of this with a visual jolt from a poppy this morning. On a road about five minutes’ walk away from mine, between the foot of the iron railings of a factory (makers of corrosion prevention and…
For a lover of hills, this small region of the country offers quite the range: steep hills, lone hills, round hills, hills with views of the sea, hills buzzed by kestrels, or patrolled by buzzards, internationally renowned hills with ruined churches on top, hills crowned by stands of trees, hills once topped by hill-forts, hills with winds that land a flurry of blows near the summit and hills disguised as city streets, with houses and shops groaning up and down their slopes.
I like to start at the western end, off Finch Avenue. To get there, I walk over a railway bridge that looks nothing like a railway bridge, then before reaching the corner, hop up the low wall between a hawthorn and a young oak, and then like many others, cut across the desire path worn into the grass.
Surrounding the wall, stubby ash and elephantine coils of Cherry Laurel gave a writhing border to the site, which, just for a moment, became an abandoned sacred grove. For some reason – the unnatural quiet perhaps – the spot felt like a Celtic ‘Thin Place’, or more accurately a broken thin place, as here it seemed, any doorway to the eternal world had been blocked by litter and forgotten.
Going down to the mill is something we do every time we come here. It’s a short distance downhill from Rue de la Roche, where my parents-in-law live, to the town’s second river. When the water is low, as it usually is in August, the visit also includes a walk across the stepping stones and…
I started to wonder how far I should go, without a map or much water, but a trail leading out of town and into the fields is always hard to resist. After all, as Richard Jeffries notes in in Nature Near London, one should “Never omit to explore a footpath, for never was there a footpath yet which did not pass something of interest.”
I’ve always quite liked the style of old handbills: the erratic punctuation, jumbled type sizes and overuse of exclamation marks especially. If I produced a handbill for this blog, it would look something like this…
It doesn’t take much to make a familiar place unfamiliar. A change in the weather – rain, bright sunshine, or more dramatically, snowfall or fog can all do it. Smells too – who hasn’t found themselves aware of sniffing more consciously than normal when drains are blocked, or there’s a whiff of barbecue, bonfire or worse in the air?
And then of course there are a place’s distinctive sounds.
I’m back. It’s been a while. The woods behind my parents’ house on Tickenham Ridge haven’t changed hugely in the last few months – the seasons have cycled through and for now the hill is a shining riot of green in a dozen shades.
An hour earlier I was in these woods in company with my two boys, my sister, brother-in-law, two nephews and my Dad, but this time I am alone and things feel different.
Clevedon: the most boring seaside town in all England; filled with dusty, fusty little sepia-tinted shops, selling dull stuff like lacework, horse brasses and pink and blue vintage porcelain salt-and-pepper sets in the shape of Edwardian ladies.
At least that’s what I used to think…
Tickenham, North Somerset is a long village strung along the B3130 road to Clevedon. On the surface, it’s nothing special, a fairly non-descript ribbon development – the kind of place you either live in or pass through on the way to somewhere else.
As a reader some books are inevitable. This one had nagged at me for years, before finally, I plunged in and it felt like meeting an old friend.
It seems ridiculous now, but until I set out on this walk it hadn’t occurred to me that Wallsend, is literally the Wall’s End. As you follow the course of the walk, there are plenty more Wall inspired place names like this to take in, such as Walltown, Wall and Heddon On The Wall.
In every city I’ve lived in, I try finding alternative routes through them that avoid streets where possible and move through parks and other green spaces instead. Here’s a short, but worthwhile one for Nottingham.
Between the back gardens and traffic jammed streets of North London runs an extraordinary green path: Parkland Walk, once a rail line to the suburbs, now a tree-lined escape from the city, in the middle of a city.
In a park near Ely Cathedral is a strange, tree-covered little bump in the landscape. For a long time I had no idea what it was.