Tag: walking

Wild Wales: walking in the footsteps of George Borrow in Llangollen


The writer George Borrow arrived in Chester in July 1854.

He walked the 20-odd miles to Llangollen and made his base there, starting the mammoth quest into the culture and language of Wales that would inspire his book Wild Wales (first published 1862).

According to a January 1936 edition of Cheshire Life magazine, available from the Cheshire Record Office in Chester:

“From there [Llangollen] he made those remarkably inquisitive excursions into unknown territory which enabled him to produce on work which will immortalise him — Wild Wales.”

I was in Llangollen last week, armed with an old copy of Wild Wales and a new Wild Wales iPad app, to retrace some of Borrow’s walks for a forthcoming article on Greentraveller.

I was staying at Geufron Hall [pictured above] and spent the first blue-skies evening hiking up to the summit of Castell Dinas Bran, a short yomp across country from the hillside B&B.

Borrow is not, in many ways, easy to like. His world view was very much of the times and his writing style is, at best, rather dense.

But, as the local walking guide Andrew Parish observed when he joined for one of the walks, “Wales was a tough old place at that time so we have to admire his gung-ho spirit.”

You can read my full story shortly but, meanwhile, here’s a sneak preview:

The most evocative walk for me was the energetic yomp up to Castell Dinas Bran, the ancient ruined castle set high above the town.

The view from the summit was spectacular: Llangollen below, Offa’s Dyke National Trail to the north, the Berwyn and Clwydian ranges meeting on the horizon.

We could almost touch the pristine-blue sky, dipping our fingertips into candyfloss clouds as the ancient spirits circled around us.

Have you read Wild Wales, or do you have walking tips around to Llangollen to share? Post below.

Liked this? Try also A Walk in the Shadow of Wild Wales.

Magna Carta: A walk through the history of medieval Lincolnshire

Feb 2015 Lincoln Magna Carta - Routemaster in Depth on the Stephen Langton Trail to Lincoln Castle with David Atkinson.
Feb 2015 Lincoln Magna Carta – Routemaster in Depth on the Stephen Langton Trail to Lincoln Castle with David Atkinson.

* Photography by Steve Morgan.

The latest issue of Walk magazine is out now.

That’s good timing given that this weekend the cathedral city of Lincoln celebrates Magna Carta weekend, the 800th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty from the 13th century.

I visited in March to research the story, preview the events and walk a new trail that leads from rural Lincolnshire to the cathedral where Stephen Langton pour over his medieval manuscripts.

Here’s a flavour of the feature:

I have come to Lincoln, home to allegedly the best preserved of the four surviving copies of Magna Carta, to walk a new, independent trail.

Picking up the trailhead at the church of St Giles Church in the village of Langton by Wragby, I wanted to learn more about the learned scholar Stephen Langton.

This Lincolnshire lad was born in the village in the 12th century.

He went on to become both Archbishop of Canterbury and one of the chief architects of Magna Carta, presenting the document to King John for signing as a fait accompli at Runnymeade, Surrey, in June 1215.

Read the full story, In Search of Magna Carta, in the new issue of Walk magazine.


Visit Lincoln

Lincoln Castle

Magna Carta 800th

Glyndwr’s Way: Walking the trail of a national folk hero in Mid Wales


It was the day of the spring solar eclipse.

While others gathered in workplaces and snatched glimpses from public transport, I was lucky enough to be in a field in Mid Wales with a clear view across dew-sugared fields.

I was on assignment at that time for Greentraveller.co.uk, walking sections of the Glyndwr’s Way National Trail.

The eclipse arrived with a beautiful spring morning and the countryside around Machynlleth proved itself – once more – to be full of mythology, spirituality and intrigue.

Here’s an extract from my article:

That night, Romy Shovelton [pictured above] described her journey from working farmhouse to five-star eco-retreat over a pint of locally brewed Monty’s MPA pale ale at her local pub, The Aleppo Merchant Inn.

“I lived 23 years in Notting Hill but, when I first drove up here in 2007, I felt like I was coming home,” she said. “It’s like I was supposed to care for this land.”

We set out from Tyddyn Retreat early the next morning, spring lambs gambling in the fields from the farm across the way, to pick up the trail on the tops over Machynlleth near Bwlch.

Canary-yellow daffodils dotted the trail and flowering tufts of bracken lined the path as we descended a set of old Roman steps to stroll into the bustling little town.

Read the full story shortly at Greentraveller.co.uk.

What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.

Liked this? Try also Pink Ribbons.

Walking the Magna Carta Trail in Lincoln



It’s Magna Carta 800 year.

And every freelancer worth his or her salt is chasing a Magna Carta angle.

Last week it was my turn, taking a trip to Lincoln for a walking-themed trip in the footsteps of a devout scholar.

It was, in the end, a mixture of walking and heritage with a few pints around Lincoln’s historic Cathedral Quarter thrown in for good measure.

The full story will be published in the June issue of Walk Magazine, the quarterly publication from the Ramblers.

But here’s a work-in-progress preview, picking up the trail in its early, rural stages before I headed west towards the city and an audience with a 4,000-word calfskin manuscript that changed the face if history as we know it:

I picked up the trail at the St Giles church in the Lincolnshire village of Langton by Wragby to learn more about the learned scholar Stephen Langton.

This Lincolnshire lad was born in the village in the 12th century and went on to become both Archbishop of Cantebury and one of the chief architects of Magna Carta, presenting the document to King John as a fait accompli for signing at Runnymeade, Surrey, in June 1215.

The newly opened Stephen Langton Trail, a 16.5-mile, three-stage walking route through rural villages, arable farmland and via ruined, medieval churches, attempts to trace key locations from his life.

St Giles Church marks a suitable trailhead with Langton looking down on ramblers benevolently from a stained-glass memorial window on the south aisle.

Walking with me on this section of the trail was Hugh Marrows [pictured above], the retired civil servant who has researched and plotted the cross-country walk over the past year.

“I’ve spent 30 years walking the footpaths of Lincolnshire but I’m still discovering new places,” he says as cross an area of limewoods, the sunset over Lincoln Cathedral on the sun-dappled horizon.

“Walking this trail has helped me understand Lincoln’s crucial role in this period of English history.”

Have you walked the Stephen Langton a Trail? Share your experience below.

Liked this? Try also A Pilgrimage Trail through the British Midlands.


Visit Lincoln

Walk magazine