The mist over the mountains
taught me that there is
beauty in the unknown,
And that you should keep walking
Even when you don’t know
where you’re headed.
The birds flapping their wings
On their first flight
Taught me to have courage
Even if you’re afraid of falling.
The setting and rising of the sun
Taught me that it is okay to rest
As long as you get back up
To try again.
The wildflowers taught me
To grow with perseverance
And bloom with grace.
This earth taught me
But this world only taught me
How to destroy it.
The urban pedestrian knows all the tricks.
Every ginnel, every back street, every right of way,
knows how to shave a minute
and exchange monoxide main road
for a park or a lazy canal.
The urban pedestrian knows what it takes.
He’ll be there in exactly thirty-two minutes.
No traffic jams can spoil his plans,
no two star Uber drivers,
no buses lost to suburban Bermuda triangles.
The urban pedestrian strides on his way,
alert to his only enemies:
the dawdling fool
and the little red man
who always says ‘WAIT’.
Once children walked on this country lane
Free from fear, safe from traffic,
Watching ducks on the river, lambs in the fields,
Gathering wildflowers from the hedgerows.
Now the narrow lane is heavy with petrol fumes,
Cars roar around blind bends,
Tractors trundle along, dragging heavy trailers.
Children no longer walk here.
Local people were determined to fight
For the right to walk in safety.
So they made the Millennium Way.
To the outsider it’s just a footpath
Raised on a flood bank beside the Wyre.
Lovely views, wildlife a-plenty
Ducks, geese, the occasional heron,
Swallows and swifts in season, seagulls too.
Primroses blossom, then cowslips
Then daffodils in golden hosts.
The perfect place for a quiet walk
At a pace I want to go.
Seats where I can rest and dream,
And contemplate cows in one field,
Lambs gambolling in the other.
The bow of Bowland hills in the background
The River Wyre, brown and sinuous, flowing to the sea,
More to me than a footpath, a link to life.
Friends wave as they pass my window;
Acquaintances exercise their dogs,
Strangers with walking boots and poles
Set off for a day’s hiking.
The Millennium Way – my pathway to Paradise
I gaze at the view as I sit by my window.
The snowdrops are over, the primrose in flower.
The riverside footpath is busy with walkers
Enjoying spring sunshine, dodging spring showers.
I pull up my scarf as I sit by my window
It’s dank and it’s chill and the rain’s beating down.
No-one is passing in this bleak November
The river is rising, a torrent of brown.
I watch the bright scene as I sit by my window.
The snow on the ground gleams white in the sun.
Children rush out to shout and throw snowballs
Sliding and sledging and snowmen are fun.
Once I could run and walk by the river
And climb all the hills and hear all the birds
Now all I can do is watch from my window
And treasure the memories I picture in words.
The first time I visit, a volunteer from the Wildlife Trust nods to the drizzle, you’ve not chosen the best day for it. But I couldn’t have asked for better conditions. I’ve not come to enjoy the nest-cam of the returned osprey pair. I am here for the peace. I sit on one of four empty benches in the woodland hide, the feeders aflutter with life;
goldfinches, bluetits, willow tits and siskins. Starlings and wrens glean the spillage. I see my first redpoll. The boardwalk is a revelation that makes this pocket of semi-wilderness negotiable.
No steps, not one stile and best of all, rather than the tarmac hardness of an accessible trail, the gentle give of weathered wooden slats. The drizzle has kept people away, it’s just me, my crutches, their click of metal sticks. Sphagnum moss, moths, and budburst leaves soothe my eyes after too long in the city.
High in the arms of a birch, there is an ancient hand barrow with a wooden wheel, it must have travelled up with the growing sapling, when the peat cutting stopped.
I am crutch-free on my return. Three osprey chicks prepare to fledge their nest.
My first walk in my fifth leg brace in eighteen months. I won it in a postcode lottery. For the first time since January last year, I pick up both feet. Twenty small jogging steps. July is brewing a heatwave, dragonflies and damsels delight in the early afternoon sun. I watch a lizard basking. I’ve not seen a lizard in Britain since the seventies. I wouldn’t have seen it, had it heard the early warning of my sticks.