I wanted to go for long walks without taking public transport. I didn’t want to walk myself into the ground or bore myself rigid linking up the same green corridors in my dog-eared, much-loved in its day, OS Explorer Map 173, which lost its cover many years ago. In fact, before the visitation, I had managed to convince myself – not without some justification – that I had walked every single footpath near the Northern Line.… More
This mp3 is a walk I used to do every year at midsummer in the early 2010s. The walk, from Berkhamsted to Kentish Town was 36 miles and used most of the daylight on the longest day of the year. A text version is available on the excellent Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.
Mon 22 Jun 2020: Introduction. (2 min read, 350 words)
I am proud of it – the writing, not the walk, although I can see its faults.… More
Thu 30 Apr 2020: Eleanor Farjeon’s house, N.W.3., July 2015 (2 min read)
Today I revisit a walk from 2015. It involves a lost garden not unconnected to Edward Thomas and feels sort of zeitgeisty: we all seem to enjoy peeping into celebrities’ homes at the moment. The fact that I could revisit the walk without stretching government exercise guidelines is irrelevant. I don’t want to know what it’s like today. It’s hard to find a house in Hampstead that doesn’t have a blue plaque.… More
Thu 9 Apr 2020: Two unbirthday walks for Edward Thomas (7 min read)
So the first time we had got it together to go on the birthday walk organized by the Edward Thomas Fellowship and … it was cancelled: not because of coronavirus but because of the wettest February on record. The ground was waterlogged and there was storm damage in the hangers – the densely wooded hills above the village of Steep, Hampshire, which were home to the poet and his family in the decade before World War I, and the locus of inspiration for much his late-flowering poetry.… More
‘In human affairs, things tend inevitably to go wrong. Things are slightly worse at any given moment than at any preceding moment.’ Friday 20 Mar 2020 (4min read)
It seems a bit daft firing up my walking diary at the very point when the possibilities for walking have become so restricted. But it probably isn’t a coincidence. The urge to write often comes from the pain of exile. We’re all exiles now.
Peter Cook ‘I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.’ 31.01.20. Aftermyth of War
I had been here before of course, the day we voted leave on 23.6.16. My aim then was to walk to Berkhamsted along the line of Grim’s Ditch. It would, I thought, provide me with the first chapter of my book. The walk was part of the problem, I now think.… More
On Sunday I met up with Ben Mackay, who is writing a book following in the footsteps (and cycle tracks) of Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring, and Saeko Yoshikawa, who has translated, and published, Thomas’s poems in Japan.
We walked a circuit around Box Hill and Mickleham in the hottest August Bank Holiday on record: not typical Edward Thomas weather, but there was plenty of shade in the chalk woodlands, in Mickleham church and in The Running Horses, which Thomas mentions in the text.… More
I’d been here before. Nearly fifty years ago. It was raining then, too.
I didn’t see much – it was night and we dipped below the clouds for a second or two and that was that.
We had been flying at 1500 feet most of the way from Birmingham. 24nm north of Bovingdon on the 160 radial: asked Luton for radar cover but there was too much rain. Hence 1500-1000 feet. Trying to keep one eye on the ground.… More