As writers as diverse as Simon Armitage, Samuel Coleridge, Charles Dickens, J K Rowling, Rebecca Solnit, Edward Thomas, Virginia Woolf and William Wordsworth attest, walking is vital to the creative process. I too have found this to be the case.
Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. It was gloriously sunny here in the West Country, so I packed up some victuals, my map and the dog, and drove down to Buckfast Abbey on the south-eastern edge of Dartmoor. From there I walked up through Hembury Woods to the iron-age hillfort on the balding crown of the hill, before descending to the River Dart, winding my way back to edge of the woods and retracing my steps through the lanes to the Abbey.
In the poem Wintering, Sylvia Plath describes the jars of honey from her hives as ‘six cat’s eyes in the wine cellar/wintering in a dark without window/at the heart of the house’. I carry these words in my head at this time of year, as I try to build up a stock of remembered sunlight to get me through the too short, too dark days of winter.