travel

In praise of commons

February 27, 2021 0 Comments
In praise of commons

Walk for ten minutes from where I write and you’ll arrive at the southern edge of Clyne Common.  Houses alongside the track, most of them built within the last ten years, suddenly give way to an expanse of wild, unenclosed land.  It stretches ahead of you to the west, and further to the north, gradually […]

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Field

February 5, 2021 0 Comments
Field

The simplest way to get there is from the top of the road that climbs up from the bay.  Turning left at the signpost, you walk along a broad path.  At one point it’s ankle-deep in mud, like most Gower footpaths in this damp and Covid-walker winter.  Suddenly the path opens out into a field.   […]

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Cwm Amarch

September 18, 2020 2 Comments
Cwm Amarch

There are places in Wales – places no one would call remote – that few people, even those living here, have visited, or even knew existed.  Cwm Amarch, it would be safe to say, is one of them. I got to Minffordd early enough – before ten o’clock.  Normally, on a Monday in mid-September, you’d […]

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A walk to see Melangell

August 21, 2020 2 Comments
A walk to see Melangell

It’s an airless morning in the dog days of August, and the temperature is already around 23 degrees.  I’m setting out from Lake Vyrnwy on a pilgrimage – a walk over the hills to the church and shrine of St Melangell in Cwm Pennant. Of all the Welsh saints Melangell comes at the top of […]

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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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