walking route

My Walk this Week – Silent Walking with WWAMH

My walk this week is from an event in West Wales with WWAMH (West Wales Action for Mental Health). I had been asked to run a couple of StillWalks taster sessions for their “Let’s Celebrate Gardening” event at Clynfyw Care Farm and so I focused on sound walks – or perhaps I should say silent walking.

WWAMH at Clynfyw

The benefits of walking in a group are primarily social – you get to chat with friends or meet new people in an active way and often in a pleasant natural environment. My own preferenceContinue reading

makeshift gate

For the Love of Gates

On this last section of the third part of my walk above Cwmdu in Wales I had the enjoyment of going back through the gates I had passed through on my ascent of the valley – Cwm Sorgwm which lies between the Brecon Beacons and The Black Mountains.

gate

I am sure there must be psychological significance to my enjoyment of gates (symbolic opportunities perhaps?), but one thing seems sure – Continue reading

Sounds Down the Street

Having crossed the road on my walk this week I continued walking down the street and found myself enjoying the various sights and sounds much more than I would normally in an urban environment. This was because I was looking and listening to everything around me – I was focused on what could be seen and heard and not thinking about what had to be done that day or a forthcoming meeting, none of the things that are usually going through my head on a working day.

In the midst of a busy working day and what can seem like cacophonous activities or surroundings, we can take a rest just by changing our focus and paying attention to the intricacies of our local environment, outside or inside, urban or rural.

Walking down the street

The urban aural environment is obviously different to the rural – this is confirmed visually for me when I look at the spectral display for a sound clip like the one below. I am used to seeing the patterns of bird song in a sound clip and depending on the bird, these sounds show up at a range of different frequencies – the cries of the gulls in this clip are at a relatively low frequency. The highlights shown scattered across this spectral display create a quite different pattern and seemingly quite random – they are  the squeaks and squeals of vehicle brakes. Some of these, the highest pitched, are out of my hearing range these days, but it’s good to be able to see that they are there.

Walking Down the Street

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Sound clip spectral display

Sound clip spectral display – click to enlarge

Turn of the Lock

Having come full circle and arrived back at the blue footbridge and lock on my walk this week around part of the maritime quarter of Swansea, I focused my attention on the bridge and lock rather than the churning water of the river falling over the weir (see Monday’s post).

footbridge mesh

Patterns, sound and movement can be seen below in a mixture of photos and video taken on both my Canon and iPhone cameras.

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Sensory Perception at the Lakeside

Nearing the end or turning point of my walk this week, I emerged from the riverside woodland footpath at the Enterprise Park near Llansamlet in Swansea. This zone has grown over the years and one of its main characteristics is that you are almost forced to take the car from place within the zone.

However, despite the sound of passing traffic (below), once I had crossed the road I was able to enjoy the lake that forms a central feature in the area. As in any urban area, there is always the background sound of city activity and traffic, but the lake here forms an essential and effective oasis from all that.

Lakeside

We need these oases in modern urban living, but it is not just a matter of them existing. We need to make sure we use them as they were intended and enjoy the natural benefits they can bring on a regular basis.

Walking around a lake or park, down a tree-lined street, along a river, we are offered the opportunity to not just exercise of our limbs, but also to exercise our sensory perception. Looking and/or listening is possible for almost everyone and in my experience is well worth it.

Passing Traffic

Lakeside Ambience

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From Calmness to Turbulence

Approaching the southern end of the lake on my walk around the valley at The Waterside, the sound and atmosphere changed from peaceful and calm to turbulent and vigorous.  Before reaching the rapids of water flowing into a tunnel, I could hear it in the background – in fact the sound of the rushing water had been noticeable for some time. However, the volume rose dramatically as I stood directly over the crashing deluge.

There is an aspect of acoustics in my perception of the volume of sound in this place. I cannot imagine what Niagara or Victoria Falls sound like but the environmental space at this point at The Waterside is much more enclosed than that at Niagara or Victoria and so, as there is inevitably more reflection of sound, it may be that the perceived difference in volume is (slightly) affected by this. However, I wouldn’t dream of comparing one with the other as the scale difference is astronomical.

Today (Friday) StillWalks is at The Waterside running presentations  about the StillWalks package for businesses and organisations. If anyone is interested in coming along to one of these in the future, First Fridays are currently regular open days at The Waterside, please check out the website above and contact us in advance.

Old Gate

Rapid water

water entering tunnel

Wild Weather Walkers and Reviewing the Week 46

Reaching the end of my wild and windy walk between Southgate and Three Cliffs on the South Gower coast, like these other two intrepid weather walkers, I was huddled over and protecting my camera against the rain.

I have not created a full StillWalks video of this walk using a mixture of still images and video because I am not a great fan of hand held video and I have not had the time. However, the sequence of photos and the sound clip below can be viewed at the same time and if you are interested in the video I took on my iPhone during the walk, this can also be viewed at the end of this post.

Mixing video and stills is something I will continue to experiment with for StillWalks and if I can find the time I will probably work further with this walk in this way. In the meantime I hope you can enjoy all that I have posted this week and don’t end up too breathless or blown off your seat!

walkers

Wild Wind

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When playing the video I recommend you click the HD and full screen buttons.