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Today's walkitcornwall quote

  "A woodland in full colour is awesome as a forest fire, in magnitude at least, but a single tree is like a dancing tongue of flame to warm the heart."— Hal Borland

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I want to say again thank you so much for making my first visit to Cornwall in more years than I care to remember so memorable.

– Helen M, UK

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My personal philosophy of walking

From Macro to Micro to Macro.

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The only time I can claim to have been prescient is when I saw Boris Becker at 17 years old win Queens just before Wimbledon and I thought this youngster is going to win the main tournament against all the odds and of those in the know. But I never put a bet on him. A treble of reaching the semis, final and then win it outright would have bought me a house for a £30 bet. Gut instinct never acted upon. I'll never claim prescience ever again.

However I've been a Green for many years and there has been a gnawing in my soul about the dilemma of taking people from all over this planet walking as one small business in the global tourism "industry". You see, even with the word Industry a low impact circular walk has the economic connotations of machinery, process, division of labour and pollution. As ever I have few answers but many questions. In the past I've had conversations about my doubts about being an ambassador for various Cornish enterprises and networks as I am still encouraging people to travel around the globe and of course flying myself to do the recce's for my overseas trips adding to the global CO2 emissions. We're all guilty and I'm talking myself out of a job here.

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Masters of the Universe & Quaking Grass envy

 


I share my conservatory/office with a number of biota – plant and animal life, in this smallish 2mx6m rectangle. Just behind and above my head where I stand at my computer in the corner crevice where house meets conservatory lives a long legged spider (to be identified) and we live in fairly good harmony allowing each other to get on with our busy lives with a silent agreement not to impede or impose on our respective territories. However today my neighbourly disposition was tested to the full. A high whine was coming from its corner and I entered the room and located the source of this malevolent high pitched assault and realised a wasp/bee was in its death throes caught in the corner web. Well both species have been around for 100 million years give or take a few, so who was I, a mere human, to interfere in an argument that goes back at least 98 million years before my species’ humble beginnings? I count myself as an empath to others pain yet I can still watch Attenborough’s sometimes gruesome visual explanation of how the web of life works from plankton up the chain. So did I interfere?

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Remembering how to walk

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Strange title for a walking blog perhaps? Remembering how to walk.
Well surely walking is as easy as....well putting one foot in front of the other?

Of course but today was a special day. It was the first long walk I have done since before the lockdown and the beginning of the pandemic crisis, where movement of any kind was curtailed, questioned and denied as a collective, personal and natural right. If you have ever seen cows who come to open pasture after a winter indoors, they act so unnatural and bounce and skip and the burst of energy is just so "uncowlike", more Gary Larson's Far Side than the cud chewing laid back herds we are used to seeing. 

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The destination or the journey?

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The saying that crops up a lot "it's the journey not the destination" is the walkers equivalent of "size doesn't matter".

In this day and age I am amazed at how often this comes up, and we all have done this. It is said, "well, I've got a couple of hours I can do 4 miles inbetween the school run and lunch", as though this is another chore to get one through the day, ticked off, good for the health and feeding the mind and body in "balance" where nature and the "real world" meet as opposites. I just did this myself - right I've got two hours before it gets dark and I need to walk. For me a lack of walking is a physical withdrawal sympton that manifests itself like a smoker craves nicotine and the body rebels.

I am also amazed that people pay me to take them walking. I'm very happy to aswell. Yet, it makes me think, well, why do we walk and how do we walk and those, my friends, are two separate books and a forthcoming PhD. For me how you engage with ones surroundings is more important than the mileage you aim to do. So here's a thought. Make a plan of a route and see how far you get if you do the following.

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Look up from your screen!

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Look up!! Look up from your phone. Nature is talking to you and communicating with itself. It has taken 4.6 billion years to present you with todays show, so at least pay attention and look around as you walk.

Nature will reveal its qualities, its secrets and its divinity if you let it. But first engage and acknowledge. Don't ignore or disregard it, let alone disrespect it which is what you are doing with your downward pointing face glowing in the screens reflection. Let nature wash over you, surprise, entertain, flow and teach you its simplicity.

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Desire Lines or Desire Paths

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Whilst walking around the Penryn Tremough campus of the University of Exeter where I have my office, I have become aware of long patches of what is presently mud and flattened grass. They veer around objects, connect low walls, merge and unmerge and basically connect buildings, major paths and areas of heavier traffic. These are known as Desire paths or Desire lines where people ignore what has been laid down as a route, normally a concrete or brick path and they traverse from one area to another to save time.

The scourge of designers? The laziness of typecast students - obviously eager to get to lectures(!?), multiple acts of subversive protest, asserting individualism or inadvertently automatic reaction to a choice of getting from a to b? In short they are paths that the public have voted with their feet that should be, and now are. Some, belatedly, have been partly paved with steps, somehow legitimizing common sense and the will of the people.

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A Penryn sense of place - Part 1 - Boundaries and Location

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Having spent the best part of the day in my office pouring over the miriad of concepts that help explore a sense of place which in my case involves researching traversing Cornwall over the past 200 years, I ventured out on this cold crisp calm evening to stretch my aching legs (aching to get out I’ll have you know). My 1000 word proposal for my PhD on walking could not improve any further tonight.

 

The experience is the walk, and ones sense of place comes from an all sensory intake of ones surroundings. But it takes time to really “feel” and “know” a place, to make it yours, to be a part of it rather than apart from it.

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Why walk?

Walking is simple. We are physically set up to perform what in reality has taken millions of years to perfect and what we now take for granted. Mobility, balance, gait, speed, direction awareness, multi sensory perception, fight or flight and health and leisure, some of the many areas to be explored when talking about walking.

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Walking is easy, so why do we make it complicated? Why do many of us in the developed world neglect our awareness about weight, diet and health, let alone the pure joy one gets from walking? The interconnection between walking and health is well documented. In fact it has gone too far where, and I speak from experience, European money is sought to investigate and research the "Blue gym" and the "Green gym". The what? To you and me, walking next to the sea or in the woods is good for you! Yup thousands of pounds of our tax money has gone into researching the Natural gyms, whereas go back two generations and the urban banter or, as they called it, old wives tales, from our grand parents went along the lines of "go outside, climb some treees, go out and clear your head, come back at dinner time, go out and PLAY"!

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Walking by numbers 01: The mathematics of nature.

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I talk a lot about multi sensory walks. However it struck me today on my walk into the office that one interpretation and a basic, almost childlike, enjoyment of a familiar walk that appeals to the "keen rotarian" in me is the mathematical variance one can make on a familiar walk that has resonance on other levels.

In short the number of steps one takes or indeed the number of actual concrete steps up or down to precise points of the walk have a familiarity and mathematical preciseness that may or may not have any importance other than the one you give it. But what the hell it is fun and today on my first walk from my new home to the office made me smile, encouraging a less than serious blog about walking. I foresee that on future wanderings to the office it will also be addictive as the numbers game can be manipulated, changed, varied and interpreted as I vary the walk.

Ok, a few lines that are the serious bit. The mathematics of nature have been interpreted by mathematicians from Euclid and Pythagoras to Fibonacci and Mandelbrot to assert that there are patterns in nature. This has bought us fractals and various "Rules" like the Fibonacci rule that are manifest in nature. The visual beauty of nature is often a mathematically precise or predictable pattern. Indeed mathematical rules often explain "natural phenomena" that include meandering rivers, cloud formations, water spouts, waves and sand dunes. Sometimes our awe and wonder can be explained in mathematical terms.

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Walking with the Durrells in Corfu

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If like me you have been entranced by the scenery and story of the Durrells in Corfu these past few weeks on UK television then your concentration on the stories behind the story might have been compromised away from the plot by the magnificent backdrop of the genuine Corfu.

Those who are much more au fait with the landscape of Corfu can pinpoint where each scene is set and the location manager is someone who I intend to follow literally in their footsteps to hunt down the majority of shots and sequences just like I have done for the recent and hopefully, ongoing Poldark series that was shot here in Cornwall.

While Gerald Durrell might have called Paleokastritsa the "Greek Margate" I can only concur that it is the commodification and commercialisation he was referring to rather than any actual physical resemblance in colour, architecture or effect on the human psyche. If not then I should visit Margate again with new eyes and look at it with a completely blank canvas before I paint any verbal picture of it.  However I would genuinly be surprised if there is any similarity, all the same.

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In the age of the car a walk is an act of defiance

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Perspective. Let's face it, when you're in a car, you can't stand cyclists, horse riders, tractors and walkers. When you're a cyclist, you have problems with motorists. Horse riders with anything that has an engine. There are many permutations for a to b travellers and their tribal interaction en route. But let's face it, walkers have it easy. We hate everyone!

Walking in Corfu part 1

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Why do some places have a hold, a tenacious grip on ones being? You feel drawn, a connection and even that unfathomable innate sense of having been there in a previous time and body. Your soul overrides the logic.

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