Bank Holiday Walking

It seems to be an unwritten meteorological tradition in the United Kingdom that bank holidays should occur at times of barometric uncertainty. ‘Sunshine and showers’is often the declaration from the weather presenter or the MET office. We invariably set off on our ‘days out’ with clothes for all weathers, ready for anything it can throw at us. The forecast for this bank holiday weekend seems to be no different and, depending on where you are in the country, you should expect to experience most weather ‘types’ during the three days. Winter still bites occasionally and there is snow in the forecast for some. In Scotland, mountaineers and walkers are warned that late Spring snow remains a danger. It has been a super season for the Scottish ski slopes and the Scottish mountains provide a first class grown up playground. Nonetheless, it has it’s risks and we shouldn’t forget that. Many of us know somebody who has risked more than a few limbs climbing the top peaks of Alba. Nonetheless, mixed weather is no excuse for not making the most of your weekend. The simple (and yet complex) act of walking is, I would suggest, the best way of spending it, whether that be alone, with family, friends or strangers. Going to new places or revisiting old favourites – each experience will enrich your holiday.

It should also be said that you needn’t drive for miles to far flung places for your walk. The urban walk or familiar local landscape can generate just as much enjoyment if gone about in ‘the right way’ (by this I mean with a spirit of adventure, good humour and preparation). The familiar can provide a different experience each time you visit and in many ways is of greater interest if you see something different. Landscapes are fluid spaces that alter through the seasons and play host to changing wildlife depending on numerous factors. Attempting to engage with and encounter these differences is what makes a walk in a familiar space all the more enjoyable.

Where will I be going for my walk I hear you ask? Well, my weekend is set to be one of differing landscapes – from the urban rush of west London to the hills, moors and seascapes of Somerset. I am meeting my family in London tomorrow for a certain family celebration and it will involve a lot of walking; yes from place to place rather than ‘going for a walk’ so to speak but I will still try to remain conscious of what is around me. I find that traveling is often experienced in a vacuum. I spend much of my life traveling at the moment – to London, Bristol, Essex, the west country etc etc – on trains, by car, bicycle or foor – and the journey is often made more pleasurable if it is experienced as something unique in itself, rather than a means to an end (getting from ‘a’ to ‘b’). I am not often very good at thinking of it in this way and usually I am concentrating on something else entirely rather than the landscape I am passing through. I must make more of an effort to engage with this landscape of pace and transition as it whooshes past me (in the case of a car or train).

For the bank holiday Monday I aim to visit a landscape I hope to become familiar with over the coming months. The Holnicote Estate in west Somerset, a place I have written about previously, is the host site for a project I have recently been awarded funding for. Monday’s journey will be an exploration exercise, enabling the reflection of context and the start of a collection of memory building.

Wherever you are walking this weekend (and I hope you are) I wish you a very pleasant and memorable bank holiday. I would be very interested if you could share your bank holiday plans/previous experiences below or simply share some of your favourite walks.

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