Archives for posts with tag: walking

After a bad night coughing, I felt pretty rough for the next day of being a pilgrim in the Holy Land. Today we went to the Mount of Olives and walked down the way Jesus would have entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The way was very steep. It was hard not to keep stopping to take more and more photos of amazing views over the city. At the Church of the Pater Noster, we stood in a circle, holding hands as we said the Lord’s Prayer. Afterwards our guide said the prayer in Arabic. It was a powerful moment. Then to the Garden of Gethsemane, to wonder at the twisted beauty aged olive trees. The Church of All Nations was an amazing space. In part of the garden overlooking the city we shared communion and sung ‘Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom’ during the intercessions. We were let loose without our guide to wander in Jerusalem and find somewhere for lunch. I loved our meander, walking the streets, seeing spreads of fresh produce laid out for sale – chamomile, spinach, strawberries, cauliflower, and baskets of fresh spices. I felt my heart and mood lifted! In the Garden Tomb we had a different guide who rather movingly told us his faith story as part of the tour. En route back to our guest house, we got off the coach and walked through the checkpoint and turnstiles and narrow corridor that some of us saw part of yesterday. It was quiet and rather eery. We could see no soldiers, but knew they were watching. On the barrier wall words were written by someone presumably queuing up to pass through: ‘have compassion’. Later we had a walking tour through Bethlehem on the search for gifts and souvenirs. I find the walking a lovely intimate way of being introduced to this complex place, step by step, and speaking a little to individuals living and working here.

In this place,

I can remember who I am

and where I belong …

among friend and stranger

may I recognise Christ

in me and beside me. Amen

30th June 2012

Right, so now I’ve got a route for my sponsored walk around the parish, Hilary’s Hike (raising money for St John’s Hall Church, Kidlington)


The route is an amazing piece of work, put together very kindly for me by someone who used to work for the county Highways and Transport Department, and who has therefore spent much of his working life around the roads of Kidlington. I think he enjoyed the challenge of creating a route that covered as many of the roads as possible, without too much duplication. So, it is a beautifully comprehensive route, introducing me to some linking footpaths I haven’t yet explored, and over the next couple of weeks my task (as well as the minor issues of improving my fitness, stamina and long distance walking ability!) is to study it and become more familiar with it, so that I don’t spend too long peering at the map and working out where to go next. Thankfully I also have a printed list of instructions, like left here then right and so on …

This week the Oxford Mail got in touch and came to take some photos of me – so keep a look out!

Yesterday I walked into Oxford and back. It’s not really that far, in the scheme of what I’m hoping to do, and I was very tired when I got home. I had done a yoga class in the morning (and a very good one it was too!) so had a fair amount of exercise – well I’m trying to make myself feel a bit better.

I’ve also been having a struggle with using a pedometer to measure the distance of my ‘training’ walks. I can’t seem to set them up, or wear them in the right place, or something – because I don’t get an accurate measurement. However, I’ve discovered an online maps pedometer that you can use to measure your walks, and record them in a log.

According to the log I created, since I began ‘training’ on May 13th, I’ve walked 151 miles, and that averages out at about 23 miles a week (which is about the distance I’m aiming to walk). 

Random acts of kindness experienced this week out walking: stopping to talk with a driver who just pulled over to have a cry; passerby pointing out to someone that their rucksack was unfastened, with contents visible.

Another week of varied weather. Sunshine and heavy rain – and a rainbow today.


20th June 2012

Hilary’s Hike.


Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time… To raise money for the renovation project at St John’s Hall Church, Kidlington, the vicar does a sponsored walk all around the parish. The aim is on Saturday 14th July to walk every road in the parish (Kidlington with Hampton Poyle). It’s about 25 miles. Now the sponsor forms are getting out and about, the articles have been submitted to the parish magazine and the diocesan website, the links are up to the church website … so I guess I have to do it!

I’ve got the boots and I’ve been doing some training, hopefully gradually building up my stamina and endurance and fitness (which is at a pretty low level). So if you see me out and about, walking with grim determination, by all means give me a smile and a wave – but don’t offer me a lift!

I enjoy walking, the art of rambling and meandering along, and the serendipity of encounters with people and the unexpected spottings of kindness and beauty.


So I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge of this walk – as I’ve been told – it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other?! One more step along the world I go – to quote one of my favourite Sydney Carter songs. (Another ukulele song to practise.)

I’ll report back on my progress, and in the meantime if you would like to sponsor me you can find out more at


28th May 2012

As a child, one of my favourite places to play was at the back of our garden, which was left uncultivated. I saw it as an entry into another world, a wilderness place, full of secret hiding places, brambles and ‘exotic’ (to my eyes) weeds. It was perfect for imaginative play, for making homes under the elderberry tree, for ‘harvesting’ grass seed, and broadcasting it (much to my father’s distress).

I’ve just finished reading Robert Macfarlane’s book The Wild Places. It’s a beautiful read, an account of Robert’s journey to visit some of Britain’s wilderness places – to remember them and put them back on the map, so to speak. He documents how his thinking about the definition and meaning of wildness changes over the time of his journeys, discovering that wildness is not inevitably “about asperity, but about luxuriance, vitality, fun”. While there is some regret at the loss of some sources of wild landscape, there is also a realisation that wildness remains around us, and can be a way of looking more closely, with wonder, at places closer to home.

I found it spiritual writing, urging our re-connection with life on this earth, and scribbled down a number o f quotes to ponder further. Here are a few:

We simply need wild country available to us .. even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope. (Wallace Stegner)

.. our maps have grown less speculative, less interested in the elemental possibilities of the Earth’s skin, and that suggests that the Earth has lost its capacity to keep secrets. We tend to look at them for what we want to avoid, rather than what in good fortune, we might discover. There is not much mystery in a landscape we cannot enter. (Robert Penn Warren)

A culture is no better than its woods. (W. H. Auden)

Not only was this a great read, but there references I really want to follow up – such as the 1920s book with the lovely title ‘The Gentle Art of Tramping’ by Stephen Graham.

So, happy walking and discovering the wild places around you, just under your feet.