Saturday, 24 September 2016



Camera, action.
Steep climb, slip, grasp stakes, barbed wire –
won't do that again.

Level streamside path,
climb, the half woods' length ridgeway,
nearing Byton now.

But we're going north,
shadows say, and waymarks gone,
no landmark certain,

no mobile signal.
Stumble on that steepest climb
we'd not do again.

Slippery, barbed wire
again down, walk unfinished;

back to start point. Wrap.

This poem was written for a project from 26 Characters, as were two pieces by me in 2015: 'Kirkconnel's bard' and 'The hang of the stones'.  The 26 Steps project behind the present poem was edited by Sandy Wilkie and Michelle Nicol.

26 Steps marks a hundred years since the publication of John Buchan's novel The thirty-nine steps.  The project identified 26 short walks in the UK between places whose names began with alphabetically adjacent letters.  I landed the walk from A to B, Aymestrey to Byton, a stretch of the Mortimer Trail.  Clare and I did this walk, partially, on Saturday 16 April 2016.  

It had its pains.  I take great pride in map-reading, and errors such as that described here are rare.  Also, since 1997, my feet have been happier cycling than walking; I took diminishing pleasure in a trek whose length was eventually some 12 miles.  But the weekend also led to my first visit to Tewkesbury Abbey, and lunch in Tewkesbury with friends and kin.  And some good tweeting from the train on the way home. 

The project has its own posting of 'Aymestrey to Byton', complete with photograph and sketch map.