On the day the Government ordered total lockdown I went for a stroll in the leafy parks of South Birmingham looking for signs of the Apocalypse.
An astounding 22 people came to last Sunday's Full Moon Walking night walk around the Stirchley / Lifford waterways. It was a walk that featured joint creative input from all Walkspace members and included instructions to 'think like a parrot', a talk under 'the tree of shoes' and a 28-day spell-casting using the lunar-charged moon water. Photos of the event by Pete are here.
Fiona has posted some reflections on the walk, which is part of a series of Stirchley walks she is running this year, on her blog. She speculates on how to 'capture the moon' by creating a post-walk artifact:
These walk artifacts are what I aspire to but I've yet to figure out what I can create from a walk that will be of lasting value. Last year, when I expressed an interest in art, my mentor Kate Spence said to use this time for exploration and play. Be interested and interesting. So I guess you can expect more random walk experiments in the months to come.
If you have seen some interesting examples of art walking outputs, please share them in the comments on her post.
Last chance to moon walk
The final night walk of the season is running on Sunday 22 March, just ahead of the new moon. Dark Moon Walking 2 sees us blending into the night in the parks and dark spaces around Bournville, Cotteridge and Stirchley borders. Wear black and let us reclaim the night together. You can find out more and also sign up for the event here.
A second expedition into the darkest recesses of Stirchley and Bournville.
Before the clocks go forward at the end of March, we shall venture out into the darkness of our local parks and public spaces once more.
On Sunday 22nd March, just before New Moon, we shall reclaim the night by walking out of the cosy glow of the street lights and into the darkest corners of Birmingham B30.
By day our route is green and pleasant, traversing parks, canal paths and verdant walkways. By night we shall discover how different it all looks and feels when the path is not lit, the trees loom large and all colour disappears? Will there be fear or excitement, a feeling of power or of vulnerability?
This one-hour night walk offers the chance to venture into the unlit borderlands of Bournville, Stirchley and Lifford wards in the safety of a group. To blend into the darkness and embrace the power of our invisibility. To explore our inner fears as well as a sense of awe and wonder. By walking together, we aim to reclaim the everyday urban spaces that become off-limits after dark.
There will be short breaks along the way to contemplate the darkness or just to blend into the shadows, become invisible and think.
We had 22 people on the walk, which was way more than we anticipated so there's certainly an appetite for this sort of thing. Yay!
This walk riffed off Fiona's original ideas and brought in Andy and our first associate member Robson who brought some local history and mythology to the proceedings.
We started on Fordhouse Lane at the River Rea bridge then made our way through the Worthings tunnel to the Lifford Woodland which leads to the Reservoir. Passing the various trees, strewn with offerings of bikes and shoes, and the mineral factory we joined the canal and wended our way back to Stirchley.
A full report will follow soon, with details of the third and final (for now!) night-time walk on March 22nd, but for now here are Pete's grainy photos to prove it actually did happen.
An expedition to explore our local waterways by full moon.
The countdown to our second Stirchley moon mission has begun. After the success of Dark Moon Walking, we are running a second Stirchley moon walk on the evening of Sunday 8th March, just ahead of full moon.
For this bewitching – if slightly scary – group walk, we shall follow a circular route around the waterways of Stirchley and Lifford. If it is a clear night there will be the chance to view some lunar-charged moon water ripe for rituals and spells.
Our water-themed walkabout features secret tunnels, woodland paths, a swan lake, the calm of the canals and a babbling river.
We think this walk will be magical and look forward to reclaiming these places by night. However our second walk is a lot more off-piste than the first, so please read the small print on the booking page before signing up.
Susan Kruse is one of the first people we thought of when making a list of "people we know who make art using walking in the Midlands". Her work is multifaceted and always fascinating and I'm delighted to see she's revamped her blog, titling it Wayfaring: On walking, magic and the landscape of Britain.
Two new posts appeared recently:
I was at the beginning of a long walk, an adventure that had no fixed time to it. I only knew that I wanted to stay 'out,' in the world and away from my usual life for several weeks. It felt right to take some time to contemplate my journey in the home of a woman who had chosen to go the other way; inward rather than outward.
People get confused between ravens and crows, but once you have seen (and heard) ravens, they are unmistakable. Crows are smaller, with a flapping flight that looks as if it takes some effort; head on, their wing tips curve up in a distinctive arc. Ravens however, are Emperors; lifting off and away with a graceful, soaring flight, they soar more than they flap and are masters of the air. Ravens will fold their wings and fall through the air, flipping onto their backs and rolling before snapping out those great wings and lifting up again, an action that seems to be executed for the sheer joy of it.
Definitely one to add to your "walking blogs" feeds.
Fiona has written up her thoughts about Sunday's Dark Moon Walking night walk through the parks and along the canal in Bournville. She's structured it as a series of questions.
4. Why a night walk?
Because walking at night is otherworldly and comes with a sense of the forbidden. Green spaces, such as parks, canals and cut-throughs, feel off-limits and taboo at night. The absence of people in them makes you feel safer at night but it is simultaneously strange to see these popular spaces deserted.
7. Were you scared at any point?
Briefly – by a solitary figure standing at the edge of the woods in Cotteridge Park. It turned out to be a small conifer. This is where night vision can be deceiving and amplify your fears. The reflections in the pond also warped my depth perception of where the water line was.
Thanks to everyone who came, and who expressed an interest even if they couldn't make it. The next Walkspace walk will be announced very soon!
I just happened across this by accident but the BBC is showing a new five-part series in which explorer Paul Rose walks the 630 miles of the SW Coast Path – Britain's longest national walking trail. The first episode just went out and you can catch it on iPlayer here: Coastal Path.
After walking a couple of bits of the SW Coast Path last year (photo is from Lizard to Kynance Cove), and reading The Salt Path (highly recommended), I've become a bit obsessed by SWCP. Hopefully this show will do it justice.
The inaugural Walkspace walk took place on Sunday night and we were very pleased with how it went. Eight of us were led by Fiona Cullinan through a recreation ground, a park and along the canal under the clear black skies of a new moon.
We were walking through areas that held no fear during the day but at night were forbidden territory. What would we find and how would we feel to leave the street lights and enter the dark?
We met at Bournville Station and quickly made our way to the Cadbury Women's Recreation Ground, a beautiful hidden gem in the day but a bit spooky by night. After spreading out to contemplate the darkness in silence for five minutes we moved on to Cotteridge Park, pausing for a chat at the glacial boulders.
After the relative quiet and dark of the parks it was back to the shock of the lit main streets before joining the canal for the walk back to Bournville station. The walk completed we adjourned to the British Oak for refreshments and the planning of future adventures.
Fiona will be processing the walk soon – the third in her Stirchley walk series – but for now here are some photos Pete took at a deliberately high ISO and barely in focus.
I've just launched a YouTube channel called Footnotes as an outlet for my walking related videos. Having spent several years working on a ridiculously massive film project about the Central Library (coming soon), it will be nice to get back to shorter, more regular output. The first video is an account of the Cross City Walks project Pete and I did five years ago – have a look and if you like, please subscribe for more!
The plan is to re-upload my old videos at a rate of one every couple of weeks to trick the algorithm into thinking I'm a reliable uploader and by the time I've got my back-catalogue up hopefully I'll have something new to share.