thought.photos

occasional snapshots of thought

Posts from the “Landscape” Category

A Walk on St. George’s Day

Posted on 24th July 2021

Restrictions have been eased a little, but we’re still pretty much in lockdown. Teaching has come to an end for the year (my 26th in higher education), and normally I’d be reporting on a visit to the Lake District. Rewind 12 months, and I was saying the same thing. Back in December I had, rather hopefully, booked a week in the Lakes for April but YHA had refunded my money – ditto last year. I am, however, hoping to get up there at the end of May after the next easing of restrictions – my room is booked and my fingers are crossed. As I did last year, I took a weeks’ leave anyway. Fortunately (or ironically, whichever way you want to look at…

+Read more

A Return to the Hills: Part 3

Posted on 3rd December 2020

Today would be the day. The day I’d complete the challenge I’d set myself to summit all of the Wainwright fells and all of the Fellranger fells, 235 in total. My adventure had begun on 17th June 2015 with a tentative walk to Low Pike, High Pike and Dove Crag from Ambleside. Today, it would conclude with a high-level walk in Langdale, taking in the final Fellranger on my list, Little Stand. This walk was going to be my reward for a tough week of walking. Although I had enjoyed visiting the final Fellrangers on the list, they almost all were what Wainwright calls the Outlying Fells, and that meant they were lower and more scattered than the popular and better known fells in…

+Read more

A Return to the Hills: Part 2

Posted on 21st November 2020

So far, so good. My week in the Lakes had started very well and I’d bagged eleven of the seventeen tops on my list in just three days. You might think I’d be confident in completing the final six with three walking days left, but I wasn’t. Some were in far-flung locations, Black Combe and Muncaster Fell were each a trip in their own right, and others like Little Stand would require (or merited) a day walk. Added to the geographic complexity was my fitness, or lack of it. Ordinarily I’d have five walking days and then a rest day but I was going to have to walk at least six days straight to get this done. As it turned out, I walked seven…

+Read more

A Return to the Hills: Part 1

Posted on 5th October 2020

I had pretty much given up hope of visiting the Lake District in 2020. Lockdown had been frustrating and since restrictions were eased, finding accommodation in one of the most popular “staycation” destinations in the UK turned out to be almost impossible – almost. I had planned to return in April, with the aim of completing the Fellranger Fells. YHA accommodation had been booked back in December and I’d planned the walks that would take me to the remaining tops I needed to complete the challenge I’d set myself 5 years ago – to complete both the Wainwright and Fellranger fells, 235 in all. With the Wainwrights completed in July last year, and a few of the additional Fellrangers already in the bag, I…

+Read more

Walking from home

Posted on 25th May 2020

The last time I journeyed more than a few miles from home is now almost two months in the past. On the 19th March, I pulled in to London Waterloo on my usually rammed commuter train. Just six of us stepped onto the platform. That was the point at which I realised I probably shouldn’t even be there. I travelled on to Greenwich and had my meeting. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to grab a spare webcam and a few other necessities. I watered my lovely ferns and went straight home. That was it, and the last eight weeks have been a strange mix of anxiety and comfort.

+Read more

Loose Ends and Rainbows

Posted on 16th November 2019

So I’d completed the Wainwrights and you might think that would be that. However, despite a final tick in the 214th box, it didn’t really feel like a completion. I didn’t have a complete photographic record of all the summits, and since this challenge had become mildly obsessive, that bugged me. During my early walks I wasn’t particularly focussed on photographing summits because I didn’t even know that I might be attempting a completion. And then there was the time I lost two days worth of photographs when the SD card in my camera failed. In short, I needed to return to the Lakes to complete the set. Earlier this year, over supper at YHA Eskdale, I was asked whether I was an incrementalist…

+Read more

The Art of Getting Wet

Posted on 3rd March 2018

In the summer of 1936, a Chinese artist made a visit to the Lake District and recorded what he found there in prose, poetry and painting. Chiang Yee was an academic who, at the time of his visit to the Lakes, taught Chinese at the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. He had come to London in 1933 and studied for an MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics. His Lakeland journal was published by Country Life in 1937, entitled, The Silent Traveller, A Chinese Artist in Lakeland. It’s a short book, running to just 67 pages, but it is rather wonderful and contains twelve plates depicting Lakeland scenes painted in the Chinese style and a preface by Herbert Read. The…

+Read more

Keeping my hand in

Posted on 22nd January 2017

The last time I did any serious walking was back in October and the next planned visit to the Lakes is in May so I took the opportunity afforded by some good January weather to make a trip to the Brecon Beacons in order to keep myself in reasonable fell-walking condition (keeping my hand in). For whatever reason, I’d never visited the Brecon Beacons before despite them being just two and a half hours from home by car. I know some parts of Wales reasonably well; many childhood holidays were spent in North Wales and I spent 3 years at university in Mid Wales but other than a trip to the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival in 1992 and a short break on the Pembrokeshire…

+Read more

Self analysis in the Central Fells

Posted on 22nd October 2016

Stephen Hough, the concert pianist, was this week’s castaway on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. During the programme he said something that really resonated with me. I’m paraphrasing but he said something to the effect of “life is about negotiating that space between the extremes where everything matters and where nothing matters and happiness lies at the point of balance between the two”. I recognised this as an important illustration of the way my own mind works and have long been conscious of the fact that I have a tendency to an imbalance in favour of everything matters. In some respects, this is a good thing. I believe it makes me a better teacher, improving empathy and organisation. But in other ways…

+Read more

Geographical Healing

Posted on 2nd May 2016

I recently read two books that have landscape as a theme; H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. The books are similar in many ways; both written by women in the aftermath of emotional turmoil and both the story of recovery by distraction. Macdonald distracts herself from a deep state of grief by training a goshawk called Mabel and Liptrot distracts herself from her alcoholic cravings by immersing herself in the landscape of the Orkneys. H is for Hawk was given to me by a friend who admitted (after I’d read the book) that she failed to complete it. I have to admit that I got to a point about two thirds of the way through where I…

+Read more