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These boots were made for walking…

by on March 31, 2014

The Romans had a phrase for it, of course. Inordinately clever chaps, those Romans, when you think about it. All those roads, engineering works and so on: their ability to master a physical landscape was amazing. An internal landscape of course is more challenging, but they had advice for that too: ‘solvitur ambulandro’. For the non classicists amongst us, and the remaining few without access to Google, it means that you can often find solutions to problems that are worrying you by going for a walk. The Romans were fond of walking, of course – it is what all those nice straight roads they built were for.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of that phrase, and feeling a little stuck on all three of the current works in progress, I went for a wander with my camera yesterday. and sort of got a bit carried away.

2014-03-30 13.35.48

Did you know that in the car park at the bottom of Yr Wyddfa (sometimes called Snowden) there are some information boards offering advice to the would be walker? First on offer is The Miners’ Track. This is a nice level walk along some lakes, and a wonderful vantage point for photography, until it suddenly becomes ‘Difficult’ (translation – a fierce 500 feet climb across two separate scree slopes and an equally steep and uneven laid path, until the hard part starts If it is wet, snowy, or icy there’s a high risk of falling and breaking some integral part of your body on the scree slopes). Or there is the Pyg Track, described as demanding (Translation – it’s a long walk on a narrow path that’s quite high up and goes on for ever until the hard part starts. In snow or ice remember that the Chinese used the phrase ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’ as a curse). Finally, you could choose the ridge walk of Crib Coch, described as ‘Challenging’ (Translation: be prepared to spend most of the walk absolutely terrified, unless the conditions are in any way less than perfect, in which case you may substitute freaking petrified. In either case you are advised that adult incontinence pants may be suitable attire).

I prefer mostly to walk alone, so The Miners Track seemed the best option, and before too long Bwlch Glas, on the way to the summit was in view. As were two walkers who thought, incorrectly, that their physique suited lycra. Now there are those who can wear lycra with advantage. These were not of that number, which was actually just as well because an eighteen inch wide track, quite steep, very uneven, overlaid with melting snow and possessed of a near vertical thousand foot drop three inches from your left foot is not the best place to become distracted by lycra. So I wasn’t. (On the other hand, I was quite distracted back in the car park when an attractive young lady – to wide appreciation – removed her outer walking gear to reveal her skin tight leggings and improbably stretched tshirt.*) The top of the mountain was quite busy, and I didn’t linger too long before making my way back down.

So much for the solitude of the hills.
2014-03-30 14.35.56

Finally, I managed some peace and quiet after getting back down past the last scree slope, and was able to wander and cogitate. And I thought how walking alone is so very much like writing. You have to be self reliant, no one is going to write the book for you (unless you happen to be Katie Price), just as no one is going to finish the walk for you, if you get bored, tired or fed up. Walking alone in the high places or writing, you have to dig deeply into who you actually are – according to my latest release, Snort and Wobbles I am an eight year old (which seems about right) – there is enormous satisfaction in actually finishing the task you have set yourself, knowing also that many who set out on the same road never manage that bit: and finally and especially in the final stretches you learn rather a lot about how deep your reserves and your motivation really are. It’s all valuable stuff, and the hiking also helps you to resolve complicated plot points in your mind as you walk. (Sometimes it is safer than being distracted by the lycra.) So, my advice today is this: if you really want to be a better writer, go out and get your boots dirty. It will make you a better writer, honest.

*Look, I’m a writer, right? So I was observing in a scholarly, disinterested, writerly way** in order to be able to describe the scene at some point in a book.

**All right, I wasn’t. Bite me. I’m recuperating from a traumatic ‘conscious-decoupling’, not dead.

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16 Comments
  1. An excellently descriptive walk through Welsh Mountains, complete with translations even I understood and now know to avoid LOL

    Is ‘conscious-decoupling’ another way of saying Writer’s Bl**k (Bites tongue for even THINKING that)

    😀

  2. Unfortunately, a lot of the attraction of wearing lycra is that it stretches without causing pain and you can bend down in it without it feeling uncomfortable. This tends to result in it being eschewed by the kinds of bodies it was designed for – because they can bend down quite comfortably in anything – and is worn, instead by those of us who look like a large portions of cottage cheese crammed into a string bag.

    Then, like you, I should imagine many thought, “it’ll be alright, nobody’s going to see me up here… .oh.”

    This is why I never wear lycra of course. I mean because my raised level of writerly consciousness enables me to understand exactly how awful I look, not that I’m the kind of shape it’s designed for.

    And I liked your joke about the trousers. There’s a very similar one in K’Barthan 3. Great minds think alike. 😉

    Cheers

    MTM

    • I’ve had the privilege of meeting MTM, and can assure readers that she is being entirely self deprecating in her comments about herself. No one who looks like ‘large portions of cottage cheese’ would be able (as she does) to squeeze into a Lotus. Sadly for her though she does appear to share my taste in jokes. Oh dear.

      • Mwah haha hahahargh. I think that’s probably a bit more oh dear for you than it is for me! Phnark.

        Cheers

        MTM

  3. Beautiful photos, as usual, Will. I can’t believe I never noticed the connection that walking outdoors has to writing before – it seems so obvious.

    Also, the conscious uncoupling bit had me laughing out loud, much to the confusion of Cricket and Thumper, who couldn’t figure out what was so blessed funny about their shoes being undone, which they’d been loudly complaining about.

    • Glad you liked the pics, Kay. Some more tomorrow, when I get the film back.

      • I miss my film camera. I still have it, but there aren’t many places here that still develop it (and I don’t have a dark room of my own). Perhaps I can fix that once we move… 😀

  4. Luckily we have quite a few places nearby where I can get film developed. And they all come with a CD digital copy too as well as the print. Can’t beat a proper album of prints to browse through.

  5. Rebecca Douglass permalink

    Your translations of the walk descriptions reminded me of a phrase from my old Seattle peak-bagging days. We’d describe a climb as “kinda in’tresting,” which was often coupled with the question, “is there a good chance we will die today?”

  6. Rebecca Douglass permalink

    Oh, and I worry about the lycra thing. I wear it biking, because there’s really no other way to be comfortable for 50+ miles. But I hope I don’t ever cause a wreck because some driver just had to close his eyes (my spouse assures me I look just fine. But what else is he going to say? I do the cooking!).

  7. I’m sure that if you are regularly cycling for 50+ miles, you are more likely to cause an accident by being a distraction, Rebecca

  8. A great piece, Will, very evocative, just like the mountains you were traversing. Well done you, a huge accomplishment matey! 😀

  9. Thanks, honey! 🙂

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