travel

John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

July 10, 2020 0 Comments
John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

In his time Foster Powell was known for mighty feats of pedestrianism.  But his achievements pale in comparison with those of a rather younger contemporary, John ‘Walking’ Stewart (1747-1822).  While Powell’s stage was mainly limited to England and Scotland, Stewart walked over large parts of the globe.  As well as his wanderings he was known […]

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Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

June 26, 2020 0 Comments
Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

When he was 21 years old Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to Wales for a walking tour with his Cambridge friend Joseph Hucks.  In a letter written in Denbigh in July 1794 to Robert Southey he summarises the trip so far, and writes, From Bala we travelled onward to Llangollen, a most beautiful village in a […]

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Grass for pillow: early Japanese travel poems

February 29, 2020 0 Comments
Grass for pillow: early Japanese travel poems

Last year Penguin published a selection of classical Japanese writings about travel.  Travels with a writing brush, edited by the Australian translator Meredith McKinney, didn’t receive much attention at the time, but it’s a wonderful and wonderfully varied introduction to poetry and prose written in Japan between the seventh and seventeenth centuries.  For anyone who’s […]

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After Offa: Mercian Hymns

September 20, 2019 0 Comments
After Offa: Mercian Hymns

We weren’t just following his Dyke on foot.  We were also tracking its maker, Offa, king of the Mercians. Or so it was said.  We’ve no contemporary evidence that Offa was the one responsible.  The first person to make the claim was Asser, a Welsh monk from St Davids (his original name may have been […]

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Offa’s Dyke Path, day 15: Bodfari to Prestatyn

September 16, 2019 2 Comments
Offa’s Dyke Path, day 15: Bodfari to Prestatyn

No kindness from the Path in the first section of today’s walk (we’re now reduced to three walkers).  From the road, opposite a disused pub, the fingerpost points straight up a steep hill, before we’ve a chance to wake up the limbs.  As the guidebook puts it, the Clwydian hills have not yet done with […]

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Offa’s Dyke Path, day 14: Clwyd Gate to Bodfari

September 16, 2019 0 Comments
Offa’s Dyke Path, day 14: Clwyd Gate to Bodfari

This was the day we were not looking forward to.  For a while the weather forecast was adamant: heavy rain in the morning, lighter rain for the rest of the day.  But the heavy rain cleared early, and it was just spitting when I went out into the streets of Ruthin in search of a […]

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Offa’s Dyke Path, day 13: Castell Dinas Brân to Clwyd Gate

September 16, 2019 0 Comments
Offa’s Dyke Path, day 13: Castell Dinas Brân to Clwyd Gate

Our host takes the four of us in his car to the start of the path that leads to Castell Dinas Brân, and we add to our day’s total of miles by climbing the steep hill to the Welsh castle.  Scattered and stark stone remnants are all that survive of the fortified court of the […]

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Offa’s Dyke Path, day 12: Trefonen to Castell Dinas Brân

September 16, 2019 0 Comments
Offa’s Dyke Path, day 12: Trefonen to Castell Dinas Brân

Today was due to be rain-free, and it is.  This fact alone lends us a lightness of spirit that lasts all day, another long one.  We’re joined by our guestwalker and friend A., fit after his holiday in the Italian mountains.  A taxi returns us from Oswestry to Trefonen.  We’re immediately unable to find the […]

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Offa’s Dyke Path, day 11: Buttington to Trefonen

September 15, 2019 0 Comments
Offa’s Dyke Path, day 11: Buttington to Trefonen

At nearly seventeen miles this is going to be our longest day, so C, M and I set out early from Buttington Bridge.  It’s already raining steadily.  The path takes us along the towpath of the Montgomery Canal, no longer navigable and the preserve of great sheets of algae rather than narrow boats.  We pass […]

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Offa’s Dyke Path, day 10: Cwm to Buttington

September 15, 2019 0 Comments
Offa’s Dyke Path, day 10: Cwm to Buttington

We start out early, with a spring in our step: no rain’s forecast, the wind’s slackened, and the day’s climbing is limited.  After a short walk along lanes we rejoin the Dyke, and follow it, still tall and well-ditched, downhill and northwards, through trees.  The tree roots need constant watching, to avoid a fall.  On […]

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