Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thinking about walking

click photo to enlarge
When I was a youngster the act of donning boots, picking up a rucksack, and walking on the hills, or in the countryside in general, was called "hiking." These days it appears to be called "walking", which is a much less specific word, though sometimes it's also known as "trekking", a grander term conjuring up images of months long journeys in distant lands. During the intervening years walking was often called "rambling", perhaps after the organisation that sought (and still seeks) to promote the pastime in Britain, The Rambler's Association (now, apparently, known as Ramblers.)

Whatever we choose to call walking in the country it's something I've done for pleasure all my life. In most instances I've done it in company with my wife, or as a family when our children were younger and still lived with us. Before I was married I often chose to walk alone. Only on one occasion have I walked in a group with the Ramblers, though at other times I've walked with friends. Today when my wife and I go walking (we never go separately) we usually see walkers who are alone, or we see couples. I've often wondered about this. Do lone walkers choose to walk by themselves, or have they a partner left at home who doesn't care for this activity? And do couples walk together because they both enjoy it, or is there often a reluctant walker being dragged along by an enthusiast? My feeling is that walking alone or with someone you know very well are the best ways to enjoy this activity. In both cases you can get physical exercise whilst looking at the sights, as well as enjoying getting lost in your own thoughts about what you see and experience. Periods of silence are much easier with someone you know well: when you walk in larger groups the problem for me is that chat too often intrudes on the communing with nature - though I know that some find conversation part of the point of going walking.

Recently, as we were passing through the area known as Attermire, near Settle in North Yorkshire, we came upon a lone walker travelling in the opposite direction. We exchanged greetings, then, a couple of minutes after he'd gone by, I turned to see him paused at the top of a steep slope surveying the view, and I took this photograph of him, a small figure in a big space. This is one of those images that completely misrepresents the landscape because out of view to the left are drystone walls, scree and cliffs that rise up high above the path, to the right are the rugged limestone tops of Warrendale Knotts, and beyond the walker the track and the land falls away to a level area of marsh - an unusual occurence in an area of limestone upland - that is surrounded on two sides by more cliffs, scree and caves.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1600
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On