On my walk this week I didn’t attempt to document my walk up the valley – I went for the walk and nothing else. But then, as so often happens, I got distracted by all the wonderful aspects of there environment around me – in particular the river.
So I took some video showing various elements of the water flow and the changing associated sounds and then continued on my way.
The mossy dead tree below points the way of the river flow (just in case you weren’t sure), but it wasn’t until I climbed up the eastern slope of Cefn Drum that I took one or two more snaps on my phone. These include the curious object I found lying at the track side – does anyone have any idea what it may once have been.
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 focuses on an unfamiliar view of my local river, the Dulais. I explored up a path beaten through brambles and whin to a rocky promontory above the river as it flows through the valley woodland, swollen by recent rains. Flooding is largely prevented by defences installed higher up the valley some years ago.
I had intended walking much further but was distracted by the small path which I have passed so often and yet not ventured along until now. It was something of a scramble to get to the rocky platform above, but worth it to get this new perspective on a familiar feature.
So my soundscape this week is almost entirely fast river flow and is contained in the video above.
My walk this week took me to an old quarry which looks quite different now to what it did when I first saw it about 36 years ago. What was once mostly water has filled out with a thick array of different trees and shrubs.
The way up there was muddy and the river was flowing fast with all the recent rain. The quarry water, however, was still and quiet and I enjoyed the peaceful reflections of the plants that now almost completely hide the rock face of the quarry walls.
I was reminded by the blackened stones of a camp fire of my youth and the enjoyable times I had with friends in just such wild places as this in Northern Ireland. However, we never left the mess of cans and plastic bottles that are to be found in this place. I have managed to avoid them in my photographs but I am sorry to say that the thoughtlessness of those enjoying themselves round the camp fire here today, was very clearly in evidence.
Somehow, we need to change the misconception by some that there is no connection between us and our environment (natural or man-made). Our interconnections with it are everywhere all the time – we affect it and it affects us. There now, I have said my piece as concisely as I can. I do not want to be political on this blog in any way but this is partly what StillWalks® is about – perception, appreciation and understanding of the world around us.
My walk this week returns to some detail and nuance from this time two years ago – which tells you I have run short of time this week!
The image above seems an appropriate one for the time of year but it is not any association with Christmas decorations that interests me, but rather the natural outline the holly leaves have. Is it a lightening of the pigment in the leaf or simply the effect of light on its edges. Does nature have a sense of design?
It’s all in the detail they say (whoever they are) – I prefer to think of the detail as nuance. But nuance is only apparent when you look at, or listen to, the details. The changing frequencies of the quarry ambience and the flow of the river in the soundscape below or the patterns and textures of the various foliage and frilly fungi in the images.
These are a selection of the photos I took in this place two years ago and it looks and sounds as though that year was as wet as this one. Now I want to go back there and look again, not to compare but simply to enjoy the privacy of the space and the secrets it holds.
Play the soundscape and click through the carousel of images as you listen.
My walk this week is necessarily another local one and is going with the flow in more ways than one.
The literal flow is in the Afon Camffrwd, a small local river swollen somewhat by the recent rains. A more existential flow is about me taking the walk in the first place.
Near the end of another day of regular showers the need to get out and calm my mind, exercise my body and enjoy my surroundings was obvious to me. We have to accept and deal with the current pandemic situation as best we can. While I am able to continue my work in tapestry weaving and sound as a result of a stabilisation grant from the Arts Council of Wales National Lottery Good Causes fund, I am still affected, along with everyone else, by the Covid-19 lockdown and the restrictions that go with it. It is a strange and unsettling experience for us all.
Again the soundscape for this walk is in the form of a short video, but there are some more details from my walk in the images below.
My walk this week is through my local Coedbach Park and I was disregarding the weather as I set out. Autumn has typically mixed weather but regardless of this, my head as well as my body needs to get out for a walk as regularly as possible.
So when the sun came out around lunchtime I thought Aha! This is a good opportunity for a walk. Of course by the time I had changed my shoes and got a coat on, the sky was darkening again, but I didn’t let that put me off and carried on out the door.
I reached the park before the first drops fell and fortunately I had brought an umbrella but even so I felt it advisable to stand under a tree and wait.
In the short video above, which also acts as my soundscape for this week, I start out in the oak woods where the magnificent trees, undergrowth and footpaths do the best job of calming any turmoil I may be feeling inside. The stress and mental congestion that is there for any number of reasons, but not least our current Covid-19 lockdown and all that goes with that, is handled admirably by nature and the elements, even the rain.
And after the rain comes the sunlight and as I wandered on down towards the salt marshes, the River Loughor was at just the right level to provide me with a beautiful reflection of the sky as the sun pushed through aa little gap in the clouds.