Mark Rowe takes us on five amazing landscape walks
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Latest update 04.10.2013 17:50
'Walking is viewing. The sight of a landscape is not like that of a a picture. It is a human experience, that of moving across and through a picture, enjoying it in three dimensions. The writer William Hazlitt advised no one to walk in company lest conversation distract the attention from the view. This is harsh, but makes the point that walking is a complex activity. A walker sees many views in one.'
Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust and author of England's 100 Best Views.
So here's a handful of the hundreds of reasons why walking in Britain is so much fun. It's a chance to escape the office, focus on the skyline rather than a deadline, and lift your eyes from the computer monitor, an opportunity to clear the mind.
A walk needn't be anything more than that, and there are plenty of days that this suits me fine. But there are other days where I find myself wondering why the landscape I'm walking through looks the way it does. What's the mountain doing there? Why is it pointy and not shaped like a pudding bowl? What are these trees, and why are they here? Why do delicate wildflowers do so well in the tough Pennine landscapes of northern England? The answers to such questions are at the heart of this series of walks.
These are yomps, rambles, hikes, strolls, that can be enjoyed simply for what they are - a day out in the extraordinarily varied landscapes that Britain has to offer. Take a ferry across Poole Harbour and moor at magical Brownsea Island. Dismantle some preconceptions by picking out birds of prey and Bronze Age relics on the mountains above Belfast. Find nature punching above its weight in an urban park. Then there is the coast, huge dunes, dizzying cliffs and dreamy marshland.
With thoughts and views from locals and specialists
These walks are accompanied by the background thoughts of local rangers, staff and National Trust specialists who explain what it is you are looking at: Why does the countryside look the way it does? What is the history of this river? Why is the coast changing shape faster than the OS Maps can keep up? Why does the Lake District have lakes? How do grazing cattle help butterflies? Everywhere in these walks, the imprint of our distant ancestors, whittled to shadows, can be found, along with the more recent influence of a cast of characters, some of them, let's be diplomatic - larger than life.
The walks give you the chance to share the experience of the National Trust staff who work and live in these landscapes. As I researched and spoke to these people I was always struck by their passion for the British countryside and how, without exception, they feel privileged to work in it. Above all, these walks allow them to share with us the sheer joy of our countryside.
In their own way, each of these walks is breathtakingly beautiful and stirring. Some are, in the literal sense, a walk in the park, others are more challenging, but whether you prefer to stroll among the handiwork of 'Capability' Brown or to pick your way around alien-shaped boulders and the peat bog of the Peak District, or both - there is something here for everyone.
Mark Rowe takes you on a landscape walk...
- The forest walk at Hatfield Forest
- A winter walk at Mount Stewart
- The Octavia Hill walk at Brandelhow Park
- The Clumber Park walk
- The Hafod y Llan walk
These walks have been written by Mark Rowe who has been writing about the British countryside and publishing walks for a range of national publications for more than 15 years, including the National Trust magazine.
Download one of these landscape walks above to kick start your autumn walking adventures. You can find out more about Mark's walks on his website.