The following entry was written on 8 November 2014. Since then the walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River has been completed.
In my first posting on this blog, back in August 2014, I mentioned one of the inspirations for my walk along the Derwent River was a man who had walked the length of the Thames River in England and wrote about it. (The image below shows the Thames travelling from its source in the Cotswalds. More information is available here.
In the earlier blog posting I explained how I had read the story and was captivated by the possibilities of discoveries of the environment close at hand. Some readers have been curious to know more.
The book that inspired me was The Art of Mindful Walking. Meditations on the Path, written by Adam Ford and published by Crows Nest an imprint of Allen and Unwin, in 2011.
My memory was bad. I thought the entire book was about the walk along the Thames. Not so. Now I remember and can see when I refer to the book that Adam talks about walks he has undertaken in various parts of England including those on both rural and city trails. In this 144 page book only two and a bit pages provided a sketchy vision of Ford’s walk along the Thames. But it was enough to give me ideas and for that I am grateful.
His manner of writing makes the book easy to read. For example,
“After living in London for many years, I decided to explore the River Thames and walk from the tidal barrier at Woolwich to the source in a field near Kemble, only three or so miles from where I lived. The end and the beginning were already familiar, but I knew very little of the river’s meandering journey through Middlesex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
There is something deeply satisfying about walking the course of the river, discovering its character, observing its changes as it flows down to the mouth.
My own way was to walk the Thames in stages, mostly on my own, over a period of about a year.
The method for Thames walking was simple and required minimal planning. I would wait for good weather and decide the night before to cover another dozen or so miles the next day. Using train or bus, sometimes both, I could easily rejoin the towpath where I had left off the previous time. … By always choosing good days, my memory of the Thames is flooded in glorious sunshine.”
There are differences and similarities between Adam Ford and my experience of walking along a major river. But I suspect the sense of pleasure has been equal. Without doubt my understanding of where suburbs lay, the changing lifestyles and living habits of people, the variations in the native and exotic vegetation, the diversity of bird life, and the good sense involved with using public transport, has expanded. As a result of my walk, I am better informed about the shape of the river, the nature of the natural and man-made environments close by and the weather effects. And generally I feel so much happier with life.
I cannot overstate how wonderful my walks have been, and how eager I was to move onto each next stage of the walk. My blog records all the wonderful experiences that the new places along the edge of the Derwent River afforded me. I am most grateful for Adam Ford sewing the seed. Thank goodness for the power of words, the enjoyment others find in silence, and the value of books.
Apparently “Adam Ford is an ordained Anglican priest, now retired. He was formerly Priest-in-Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen at the Chapel Royal, Chaplain to a London School and Vicar of a Yorkshire mill town. He has an MA in Indian religions and regularly lectures on buddhism, hinduism and astronomy.” – See more here. Adam Ford published, in 2012, another book ‘Seeking Silence in a Noisy World – The Art of Mindful Solitude‘published by Allen and Unwin.