Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Walking the city

Walking, what a wonderful way to spend the day.  Next to painting and making things I think walking (and cycling) is one of my favourite ways to spend my time.  Our feet are capable of taking us anywhere we are willing to go; through sunken lanes, along singing streams over high hills.  Living on the edge of a major city also gives us opportunities to walk streets and lanes.  There can be something magical about following Georgian and Victorian back streets in a town; looking up at windows, gables and chimney pots.  Looking down or around for cobbles, wrought iron work, window sashes and brick work.  Autumn, late summer evenings, snowy winters: each city has it's seasonal rhythm, just as the country does.

This week I am taking my class for a walk along a short stretch of the Trent, we will take the tram to the train station, our glorious red brick, Victorian, layer cake train station.  From there we will pass the canal (industrial artery of a by gone age), then stroll along a plane tree clad boulevard towards the river.  We will pass through the Meadows, back to back terraces that hide a secret.  How many know this area is built on stilts; that the water ways still pass under many parts of the housing.

Finally our steps will bring us to edge of the river, to the Toll House Bridge. Not much remains of the original  bridge, there are the toll house stanchions and the first two arches.  There is also a list of the toll costs for traffic that needed to enter and depart from the city.  For the Trent is our boundary between Town and Country.

From here we look down the great, meandering course of the River Trent itself.

The people use the river for many things, it has it's credentials as a thing of leisure firmly stamped.  In the distance is the hum of the city, close to your ears the sounds of families, students, athletes; wildfowl squawk and honk, splash and hiss but the watercourse and bank is big enough for all.

Turn and stroll away from the bridge, the bank is a wide grass verge and more plane trees to give us shade.  The plane tree is a sign of the city,valued for its ability to take the pollution out of the air, through its leaves and into its bark.  The tree is then able to quarantine this pollution and shed the poisons and cleaning the air. They are the lungs and filter of industrial England.

Further along is the magnificent gate to the Memorial Gardens, built in memory of the lost of two world wars.  Behind is the peaceful garden in which we are invited to sit and remember, reflect and learn.  Water song accompanies your thoughts, cooling the air and soothing away troubled thoughts.  Here the ground is planted with laburnum and acer, oriental poppies and iris, tree peonies and geranium.  Queen Victorian, on her plinth, over sees us as we rest in her garden.

Listen carefully in the summer and there is the sound of ball on willow; we are a stones throw from Trent Bridge.  In the season there will be the roar of the crowd, celebrating a four, a six the loss of a wicket.  Inside the ground white clad men enter battle against their foe, repeating the ritual that is England's cricket in one of it's cathedrals.

We can then turn about and join the canal, returning our feet towards the station where our carriage awaits to take us home.  This is a very different watercourse, man-made and industrial, dirty and less loved.

After this we can return to the terraces and town, here we once again cross the water meadow; flood defence against the rising water.  As we walk we can see the iconic buildings that make up the city skyline, some old, some new.

Finally, after passing the castle (that isn't a castle anymore), the tax offices and the skyline shapes of the church towers and council house dome, we reach the station once more.

With thanks to my husband, Tim, for the wonderful photographs.


  1. They ARE wonderful photos and the post itself is a delight. My favourite photo is the stripes reflected in the water - what a beauty!

    1. Thank you, Tim is a fabulous photographer. He took some amazing photos of the water droplets in the fountain.

  2. So lovely thank you for letting us join you! Love the reflections, they are a lucky class to be going on such an interesting walk.

    1. Let's hope they enjoy it, the weather is not looking so nice for Thursday. But it is such a lovely local walk, we can get on the tram at school and off at the station. I just want them to learn more about the city they live in.

  3. Hey Charlotte what a wonderful excursion for the kids to take......beautiful pics and so interesting to take a tour and visit a beautiful part of the city.

    Love all the greenery and the thought that the trees are the lungs of the city....

    CLaire :}