My walk this week is in Cally Gardens in Scotland where it is all about the plants. We have been visiting this nursery garden for many years and used to enjoy hearing and learning about Michael Wickendon’s plant expeditions and explorations around the world. Sadly Michael died on one of those expeditions a few years ago but the garden has been take over since then by Kevin Hughes and he is clearly developing and maintaining the plants and garden in a similar vein to its past.
My walk this week sees some changes to a local urban nature route I have not walked for a couple of years. In recent years there has been a tremendous amount of new house building going on in our area and so it was no surprise to find almost every last nook and cranny filled with new homes when I reached the top of a local hill where there had been a few plots still vacant at my last visit.
The climb up there is short but steep and I enjoy the vigorous energy needed to ascend at the start of the day as well as the views to be found along the way. Or at least that is what I thought! Not only has there been more building but also the fencing off of once open fields from which views in all directions were possible.
But the small wood with big trees is still there and the sound of birds at this time of year dominates everything else.
You cannot beat nature and why we try is beyond me! People do though – trying to tame and take control – but nature will always win out in the end and there is a good example of this below in the image of the tree having “eaten” the barbed wire of a fence.
But now I have a question – can anyone tell me what the species of almost luminous green moss / mould / fungi / lichen is on the old tree stump in image 8 below?
My walk this week was a much needed one towards the end of the day – a day on which I had spent all my time on the computer.
It is the sounds enjoyed on this walk that are most important to me but the images and video give a visual context to it as well.
The robin and the blackbird seem to be having a conversation – and the sheep have something to say too.
The walk took me up a familiar footpath where I noticed things I hadn’t really paid attention to previously – such as the arboreal elbow of a tree or the integration of another tree and old build wall. Perhaps I should describe this as a take over of man-made by natural.
And from my elevation with views I descended a steep track to the valley floor and the river I have so often featured here.
Click the play button for the sound file and then the first image to view the images in sequence.
My walk this week is really my walk last week when I ventured down to the misty marshes early one morning before the day warmed up and enjoyed capturing this beautiful place with stills, video and audio.
Any environment differs according to the weather conditions, but this can be perceived in different ways. Visually (and in a tactile way) the misty marshes are exciting to me. Even though the river is moving ever so slowly, the fog in the air is mysterious and the atmosphere is dank or clammy to the touch.
An excess of moisture is literally hanging in the air and this changes our experience of sound as well as vision. The short video clip above shows the this moisture and also transports the sound of traffic on the motorway very efficiently. The result of course is that on this day, at that time, the marshes were noisier than usual – not only with the busy road but also with the birds shouting over it.
In the soundscape below I have been able to focus more on the birds than on the background traffic and we do this with our ears (or rather our brains) as well – filter out or dim down the sounds we do not want to listen to and focus on the those we enjoy most. That, for me, is not only the birds and in this instance includes those wonderful gates as well.
And then there are the stills, an opportunity to capture a moment in time, a snippet of what is seen and felt, both of the broader landscape and also some of its details, textures, patters, nuances.
I hope you can enjoy the different aspects of this little corner of Wales as much as I did on my walk. Click on the first image and look through the carousel on a larger scale while listening to the soundscape.
My walk this week is more of a wander on Cefn Drum, one of our local hills. Being a sunny Sunday afternoon, the hillside was busy with 4 or 5 other people gently strolling along the labyrinth of footpaths, so I didn’t hang around long and beat a retreat back down the hollow way seen in my last post.
The video includes flowing water again, but this is a sound it can be hard not to hear in Wales, especially at this time of year. And once again the video is also my soundscape for this week and indeed it includes separately recorded sound as well as that recorded as video.
My walk started well before the gate to the mountain (we say mountain but really it is a hill rising to about 750 feet), but a gate is a good starting point, a threshold, whatever rusty state it may be in.
My walk on the hillside ended with another battered aged gate, one with a different perspective, at least from the angle I photographed it.
My walk this week is back on my local salt marshes where the evening was still and the midges were out in their millions.
I went down there for the sunset and then had my back turned, recording sound, when it actually dipped below the horizon.
It was a still evening and there were not many birds singing but as always in this environment, there are gates – specifically four, but there were more people using them than just myself. I have included four in the soundscape but had I included all the instances of use on this short walk there would have been the sound of at least ten!
I understand and accept that by now you may think me obsessed with gates, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Aside from the individual audio characteristics they have which I enjoy, they are symbolic of so much. They are way markers, milestones, entrances and exits simultaneously, thresholds, limitations, invitations – and they come in so many designs!
There is a bird that appears in the recording at about 01:10 – it was in the woods at the edge of the marsh but I do not know what it is. If anyone can tell me, I would be pleased to know. The Covid-eased traffic is ever present on the motorway but I have focused more on the other sounds in the trees and on the marshes.
Marshes Evening Soundscape
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My walk this week revisits a walk with eight gates from two years ago. In fact there were nine gates on the walk but the gate to the old churchyard on my local marshes was open and so is not included in the soundscape below.
The old St Teilo’s churchyard is a fabulous place and the walk across the marshes, alongside the River Loughor is also a local route I enjoy immensely. I am sure many of you already know how much I enjoy the sound of gates and if you do too, then the soundscape below will not disappoint.
They are all included in my recording for this walk but appear at shorter intervals than in reality.
Marsh Gates Soundscape
If you can listen to the soundscape on headphones, you will hear more easily the subtleties of all the layers and textures of the place – but no worries if you can’t. In any case, listen out for the sounds of my feet brushing through different kinds of grass, the breeze blowing through the tall marsh grass (one of my favourite sounds), the various bird calls and warnings, the intricacies of nearby passing traffic, and of course the gates – each one has its own individual characteristics.