Walking without a donkey 1 New Forest, England *

I am taking a break from my regular life in Edinburgh to discover what I want to do with myself and my future. I’m walking my way into my next half century. Ken and I were wandering together years ago by a river in Cardiff and he was telling me how walking helps the brain settle, how it gets the creative juices flowing. Simply setting one foot in front of another helps the thoughts to move along, and gets you from one place to another.

Luckily I am healthy; my beautiful daughters can now manage brilliantly without me, and so with lots of support from family and friends I have taken time off to explore. I intend to spend time sitting, resting, listening, watching, meeting new people, speaking another language, and of course walking.

 ‘Man’s real home is not a house, but the Road, and (that) life itself is a journey to be walked on foot.’ Bruce Chatwin ‘Songlines’

I started my Autumn walks in the New Forest with Angela – snake stories, practicing Spanish verbs, annual acorn-eating pigs, and some donkeys. Our excuse was to take Polly, Christinas’s dog, out for exercise, and we roamed along grassy paths with the smell of Autumn all around us. We tried to avoid any wildlife that might readily be chased.

As we roamed along valleys beside meandering streams, and the bracken seemed to turn browner by the minute, we got to know each other and Polly  explored. Inevitably she discovered the donkeys which are free to roam as part of the peoples’ rights to graze their livestock, pick holly, and cut peat.

I recommend this gentle part of the world for walking. It will deepen your appreciation of your surroundings, and moving side-by-side with someone is perfect for meaningful exchanges. 


*Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson 1879

The New Forest Walking Festival is between 15-30 October 2016 

http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival

 



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