|Leaderfoot Railway Viaduct and 2 other bridges|
Recently I've been visiting bookshops which I haven't been to before. After a search on the internet, I've discovered some that I hadn't even known existed. Searching out these shops, using public transport, has also given me the opportunity, armed with a map, of exploring new walks.....
These colours meeting me everywhere, like familiar characters, these vivid trees, orange and wine-red, bright yellow, green, still – avenues of them, against the blue of sky. The 3 hills, the 3 bridges, the Trimontium and Tripontium, you can see why the Romans settled here. Pict-free presumably, as this is north of Hadrian's Wall.
|Built in 1865, disused in 1940s, some of the 19 arches of the Leaderfoot Viaduct|
The gorgeous viaduct on its slender pink legs, the Flamingo Way I decide to call it. You're not allowed to walk along it and I study the bars and barbed wire, decide it could be done, but – today I'm carrying a backpack of books and even if my clothes aren't precious, the books are and I think – not today but – maybe one day. Barriers have that effect on me – a stubborn small and elf-like part of me disputes the barriers humans have put up -
The other day, I went onto the railway line that's being renovated. Of course you're not supposed to go on it, but it was Sunday, no one was around, and the surface has been evened out and flattened, a little gravelly, good for cycling on. It was beginning to get dark, the machines, earth-diggers, gougers and flatteners, were all asleep. When I turned off, along a track leading to the road, there were 4 gates I had to go through. 3 of them were stuck fast, so I had to lift the bike over them. I come back home tired these days, but it feels good, out in the sunshine, among the wildly coloured trees, rows of them laid out like crops of colour, delicately shaded, rows of small fires burning by the path and by the river.
In the bookshop courtyard, drinking coffee with sun hitting my face and the silent valley just beyond.
On another walk, the wind moves the dried seed pods still attached to the whin. Lots of little rattles, so reassuring – they'd pause, then start up again.
Beyond the pink-legged bridge, the path continued by the river. A solitary row boat beside the river bank.
Then the path vanished and the wooded hill rose steeply. I pulled myself up by the low branches of saplings. Slid sometimes, on the moist earth, loose and leaf-covered. I wasn't wearing the right shoes, hadn't intended walking today. But that's the joy of maps, I have discovered. They mark trails or paths, or dismantled railways, and that caught my eye, after I left the bookshop in the courtyard in the golden valley.
Following this trail, crossing a road, coming back onto the once-railway track – I discover this stupendous viaduct, that one is not supposed to walk over. I suppose the fear is for people's safety. My grudge is that people are not allowed to make the choice, whether to take a chance or not. And I am so far from being a person who takes risks. I'm too fond of the enjoyments of mobility to do that. I may attempt some difficult things, take on some challenges, but I don't take many risks. There again, it could be the fear of people bringing damages, if they hurt themselves – but surely, a simple notice saying something like – unsound structure, enter at your own risk? Couldn't we give some risk back to people? 'Society' or 'the government' seems to be held responsible these days – even in bad weather, floods or snow-storms, MPs can be toppled, keel over like trees in a high wind, if they are seen to be 'ill-prepared'. But at least the Matterhorn, Mount Everest and other very risky places have not been circled with a ring of barbed wire, put out of bounds, because they're dangerous.
The Sun makes a tiny arc in the sky, at this latitude, this time of year. Shadows are always long, sweeping, stately, territorial. They claim whole valleys. Frost on the path this morning. Ice like thin sorbet on the water in the bird dish. And on a puddle in one of those shade-gripped valleys by the river, beyond the Flamingo Bridge. I climbed out of the valley, through the woods with the helpful trees, across a field, back onto the narrow road to Trimontium.
|Trimontium, Three Mountains, old Roman camp|