Pilgrimpace's Blog


contrast

Three recent walks give much food for reflection.

Mike and I try to walk once a month.  We’re both in a position where we supervise other people.  Our walking is an essential safety valve, often a chance to let off steam and frustration, and an opportunity for peer supervision.  We usually spend a day walking in the countryside, drink a pint en route.  This has become an increasingly central and important discipline, something that adds to thriving as well as surviving.

This time we walked 14 or 15 miles of a route from a booklet I had found: The Birmingham Greenway.  This leads from the northern edge of the city at the TV transmitters near Blake Street Station to the southern boundary at Coughton Park between Longbridge and the Lickeys.  As we both know the south well, we walked from north to the centre.  This is a way of walking which is about conversation, support and challenge while getting exercise and exploring a place.

The second walk was a poetry and landscape workshop which Bharti gave me as a birthday present on Wenlock Edge.  There’s a really good description of it here by Helen James the poet who led it.  This was a way of walking which was about going slowly, of looking and listening deeply to the landscape and what is within.  The walk, for me, was comparatively short, but I am grateful to be introduced to new ways of walking, one which is very much about mindfulness.

The day was a real gift in terms of poetry.  I’ve begun writing poetry really for the first time as a result of the long Camino I did a couple of years ago and through this blog and some of the people I have met while blogging.  The workshop has really increased my confidence that I have a poetic voice.  I also came away with a draft of a poem ‘light shed’.  I’ll share it with you when I have worked on it some more.

The third walk was with my friend Paul.  He is a very experienced hill walker and it soon became clear that he is much fitter and faster than me.  We had an excellent day in south Shropshire.  A bright day with sun, cold wind and ice.  This in many ways was walking as pure exercise as we climbed Caer Caradoc, the Lawleys and the Long Mynd, scrambling down icy descents, me doing my best to find the balance between keeping up and not falling over.  I feel much better for having done this and it has spurred me on to think about increasing the distance and difficulty of the routes I walk.

Much to mull over with the prospects of another year of good walking and writing.

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