For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Monday, 22 June 2009

Ur-Walk

A few minutes' stroll from my father's house, a short stone's throw away from where I sit writing this, on top of the low hill where I spent my childhood, begins a walk. I suppose my love of walking, wildlife and the countryside starts here too. This walk is the essence of my whole boyhood. It's the first walk, the original walk, the walk which all later walks try to recapture in spirit. It's the walk which is the beginning and end of all walks. In a sense, all my subsequent walks are variations on this one: this walk through the memory-fields of youth, this walk fronded and flowered with those earliest experiences - first sight of butterfly and smell of new mown hay, first scent of fox and taste of blackberry. For me this is really the one and only walk. A walk through Paradise before the serpent appeared. A walk alive with symbols, redolent with joy and pain, fragrant with nostalgia. It's the true walk, the ultimate walk, the Ur-walk. It begins unassumingly at the top of Rocket Lane...


A farmers' track bends to the left and leads straight down a slope with an ancient hedge on one side and a cornfield on the other...


...to a small three-cornered field which used to be my father's. It's now my field. It's nice to have a field. I think it's been left as meadow grassland for many years...



To be continued...

11 comments:

Timecheck said...

Nice to have some roots. Walking through France must remind you greatly of home. I've developed a sense of place after having lived in this area some 45 years, but as a child moved once or twice a year due to my father's occupation.

am said...

"This walk is the essence of my whole boyhood."

Beautifully written post, solitary walker. Looking forward to more of this walk.

Dominic Rivron said...

Nice to have a field. What to do with it? I suppose just leaving it to grow is not a bad idea.

Great to have an Ur Walk. The nearest thing for me would be the paths around Seven Springs, near Lichfield. I have an "Ur Mountain" - Moel Siabod. It haunted my imagination from the first time I saw it (I was pretty small) and my first attempt to climb it ended when I forded a stream and the water filled my wellingtons. (I must have been about 3 feet high at the time).

Mister Roy said...

Love this. Also looking forward to more. Thanks.

Delwyn said...

Hi there,

I was so enjoying that - you write so well that I was disappointed when you stopped...

Happy Days

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I've been missing online during the last few days. It's not too long past dawn here, I'm on my first cup of coffee and trying to catch up with the world beyond the riverbank, blogs included. Reading your post has set me off on my own memory walk. I understand completely what you're saying and feeling.

I grew up in a house my father built, and lived there until my early twenties. I'd never thought of it in this way until now, but you're so right in that subsequent walks and outdoor adventures largely stem from and are informed and shaped by those walks and adventures near home.

Lovely post…and I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I do like the idea that ones childhood walk becomes a blueprint for ones enjoyment of all future walks Robert. Your walk looks lovely.

beatingthebounds said...

More than a hint of 'coals to Newcastle' here, but I read this...

...when at the holidays
Return'd from school, I visited again
My old accustom'd walks, and found in them
A joy almost like meeting an old friend

By Southey, quoted in 'The English Path' by Kim Taplin. It's from 'The Ruined Cottage' apparently.

It seemed as though it might be appropriate.

Lovely post by the way.

The Solitary Walker said...

Everyone - thanks for all these kind comments.

Timecheck - nice to hear from you! Are you Camino-bound again later this year?

Dominic - I love Moel Siabod too. I climbed it via the SW ridge. The views across to the Snowdon masif are incredible from there.

Delwyn - Welcome. Lots more instalments to come...

Grizzled - it's great when a post strikes a chord like this, and we discover something we'd not quite realised.

BtB - I feel a lot of Worsworthian resonances too in this walk - maybe I'll write about this later, if you can bear me going on about Wordsworth again!

Ruth said...

It IS nice to have a field, and to have a quintessential walk in your psyche like this. I was called by nature when we moved to our farm in 2003, and I love having a field too.

The Solitary Walker said...

I have now sold that little field, however, along with some bits and pieces of agricultural land, to my cousins, who are farmers. It was time to move on!