It is irritating when you come home from work and it is too dark to venture out. Or is it? Not according to this article on night time walking.
When I spotted the article, in The Telegraph, I initially ignored it and then went back to find the article because it is, well, something a bit different. Then I decided to go out for a walk around the village even though the sun was setting. The fresh cold air was invigorating and as I increased my pace, I soon warmed up. Time to wear the old leather gloves though.
“Britain has a great tradition of literary nightwalkers. First Chaucer, in an age when darkness could be banished only by faltering, fallible candles; later the Elizabethans, then the flaming torch or cradled lantern passes to Wordsworth, De Quincey and Dickens.”
Well, I know we don’t have “fallible candles” anymore but if those literary nightwalkers can do it, so can I! Yes, some of them may have been high on opium, but all great writers.
Anyway, the photos I took, made the local ambiance look brighter than it was. Night had definitely arrived by the time I was home. The walk was peaceful, helped my annoying aches and pains and frankly gave me some time to think. This, maybe a habit I will repeat. In the past, I have been walking in Ashdown Forest before, to look at the shooting stars and planets and it is eerie but quite fascinating in a solitary sort of way.
Christopher Salisbury, a professional outdoorsman and storyteller says, “It’s a beautiful time; reflective and contemplative. The darkness forces you to come into the present moment.”
“The winter is a dark time – let’s celebrate it. Let’s capture some of that mystery and enchantment and bring it back,” says Christopher [Salisbury, outdoorsman]. “Culturally we’ve banished the night. We have light bulbs and street lamps. So, to particularly be in a natural environment, where we can experience true darkness, or even true silence, culturally we’re a little comforted by those things. There’s some excitement. Some little edge of, dare I say it, danger of the night-time.”
Is this mad? No, my area is fairly safe and I am talking late afternoon/early evening. The pedestrian exploration is invigorating and gets you out of the house. I may not want to traipse around the countryside, but will consider some village/town walks. It is a good idea, isn’t it? The question is: Is this the weirdest idea I’ve ever posted about?
In the country | Five night walks to get you started…
Holnicote Estate, Exmoor
Exmoor National Park was designated the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe, and it’s one of the UK’s best spots for stargazing, thanks to low levels of light pollution. You can get closer to the stars at Dunkery Beacon on the Holnicote Estate, the highest point on Exmoor. The 1,700ft summit offers stunning 360-degree views of the skies above Somerset, so there’ll be plenty of stars and constellations to keep you occupied. You can also listen out for nightjars, and keep your eyes peeled for low-flying bats. nationaltrust.org.uk/holnicote-estate/trails/dunkery-and-horner-wood-circular-walk
Warrens, Girts and Ouzels, Dartmoor
Starting and finishing at the historic Warren House Inn, with its famous open fire that is said to have been burning since 1845, this route can either be walked or cycled and has a number of variations that make it more or less challenging. It is also accessible by bus, although at the present time these do not carry bikes. This route is almost entirely off road following unsurfaced bridleways, so expect rough going in places and some mud or lying water at times. visitdartmoor.co.uk/things-to-do/warrens-girts-and-ouzels-p2356713
Formerly a grand private estate, Stackpole provides access to some of the world’s most beautiful stretches of coastline. It’s also home to Broadhaven South, one of four designated Dark Sky Discovery sites in Pembrokeshire. Run by the National Trust, this is the perfect spot for staring up at the Milky Way. Make an afternoon of it with a walk around the lily ponds, ending up at the beach just in time for the sun to go down. Remember to take warm clothes and a torch. NB: take particular care crossing the lake on the narrow causeway bridges. nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole/trails/bosherston-lily-ponds-freshwater-magic-walk
Barbury Castle and the Ridgeway, Wiltshire
A delightful downland walk along the Ridgeway, said to be Europe’s oldest road. The Iron Age hill fort of Barbury Castle is believed to be the site at which Cynric, the King of Wessex, defeated the Britons in 556AD. Constructed in a double-earth bank design, the outer bank was reinforced with huge Sarsen Stones that can still be seen today. Barbury Castle can be a good spot to watch the sunrise. The car park closes at 7.30pm but there’s places to park on the track outside. visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/activities/walking
An easy short walk from the centre of Keswick or Lakeside car park by the Theatre by the Lake to Friar’s Crag looking down Derwentwater. You will need a torch but most of the trail is fairly level. On the way, past the boat landings and through the trees, listen for the tawny owls. At the end of the trail there is a viewing point (with bench) that looks down the length of the lake into the dark of the Borrowdale Valley, making it an excellent spot for stargazing. visitcumbria.com/short-night-walk-keswick/