The valley below

My Walk this Week 252 – A Walk Up the Valley

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.

11 arched bridge

My Walk this Week 251 – Estuary Circuit

My walk this week is a circular one with the circuit including the Loughor Estuary and salt marsh on my doorstep and also an old quarry which for many years has been a neglected nature reserve.

The space of the estuary was as enjoyable as ever and although it cannot be heard in the video below, I can say that I heard curlews calling as well as the range of other birds enjoying the watery habitat of the river and marsh.

As my walk extended my route took me past an old quarry that I have only tried exploring once before. On that occasion, later in the year, the tangle of brambles made it impossible to get more than a few metres into the neglected reserve. However, those same brambles are not so thick just now and although it was still a bit of a fight to make any progress, I was able to get a better idea of what the place is like.

Moss Metropolis

My Walk this Week 250 – Virtually a Forest

My walk this week is through what is virtually a forest. I mean “virtually” in a few ways:

  1. Only photos and sound are used, so it is not the real thing.
  2. It was once more than it is now, a large section of it (most of the conifers) have been harvested as originally intended.
  3. This is my main reason for using the word virtually – I was doing the walk as a production walk for a StillWalks® VR 360 video.

Recently we have been trying this out and after several trials, this will be the fourth SWVR 360 video. It is not being made public yet as a resource to add to the normal StillWalks® video collection but we have been getting feedback which suggests that while some will find this fully immersive experience very effective, others will prefer the more meditative flat screen 2D StillWalks® videos, finding the VR version to intense even though it is a genuine StillWalks® production with no voiceovers or music. The SWVRs do, however, use video rather than still photography.

If anyone is interested in looking at one of the SWVR videos, this will require a VR headset (there is not a lot of point in it if you are just going to scroll around a 360 video on YouTube). You will at least need a Google Cardboard viewer (quite cheap). You should express your interest in the comments and I will be able to provide a private link to one of the videos (with license restrictions attached) and ask that you feed back any thoughts about your experience.

In the meantime I have included a short soundscape and still photographs from my walk which I hope you will enjoy. Click the play button below and then click the first image to move through a carousel of the gallery.

more perspective

My Walk this Week 246 – Parks and Park Keeping

My walk this week was through three different Swansea parks  – it was a very pleasant walk but one which started with something of a challenge to my patience when it comes to park keeping!

St James’ Park is small but has a wonderful collection of trees, some of which are truly majestic in stature. It is a wonderful environmental oasis in an urban setting which naturally has a regular deposit of leaves and pine needles on the ground. And this is where my patience was tested – not by the leaves but by the park keeper using a leaf blower to clear them. I say “clear”, but really, that is a joke. I find the noise pollution alone is enough to set me ranting.

So please excuse my opening to this post and enjoy the dulcet tones of the leaf blower with a brief scan of the St James’ Park and then move quickly on to the preferable sounds of the birds, children playing and adults walking in Brynmill and Singleton Parks.

St James’ Park
Parks Soundscape
slow exposure

My Walk this Week 245 – Dulais River

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. 

Quarry reflections

My Walk this Week 244 – Old Quarry

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.

Salt Marshes-1

My Walk this Week 243 – Winter Salt Marsh

My walk this week shows my local salt marsh in Winter. I know how much we enjoy and benefit from a bright sky and sunshine, but in Winter we have to, we must, try to see the beauty around us in different conditions. SAD is not a condition you want to fall prey to if it can be avoided.

This week I have video, sound and images to hopefully help you enjoy the relative gloom of overcast and wet conditions on my walk across the salt marsh to the old St Teilo’s churchyard and back to the fast thawing pond in the park.

You can only allow the weather to stop you going out for so long – then it becomes imperative that, regardless of rain or snow, you take the exercise and grab as much light as you can – if you are in a position to do so.

The video above obviously includes sound as well as the soundscape below but which one has the better pictures? That’s just a joke really, but it is certainly true that sound conjures up images for us and in the case of StillWalks® videos the soundscapes are the animator of the still images used – see the example on the website home page (Autumn Lakeside Walk). The home page has now been updated to show a short series of seasonal StillWalks videos.

Salt Marsh Soundscape

My Walk this Week 240 – Forest Morning

My walk this week starts in the early morning with the setting moon and the sun rising over the landscape before climbing up through a local forest.

It was my last walk of 2020 and cold! The mist over the winding River Loughor in the valley was very atmospheric and I was in awe (yet again) at the beauty of my surroundings.

It was a very good walk with which to end the year, allowing me not only to enjoy the landscape but also to escape from the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current lockdown. The coniferous section of the woodland has been harvested but I am familiar with that now and even in the middle of Winter can see the changes with a more positive eye.

The pleasure I get from a sunrise or open landscape is equalled by my enjoyment of thick moss in a more enclosed forest environment. A sunrise or sunset is always beautiful, but moss is such fun – I cannot help but smile when I see it in such abundance.