Unlike the previous four walks, our walk this time was not done in silence. Instead, it took place as part of Folkestone's annual festival of the brain, and we had naturalist Melanie Wrigley, and neurologist Dr Tim Rittman, along with us to provide interesting insights into both our inner and outer landscapes. We still read selections from In Praise of Walking, but spent less time being contemplative and more time being conversative than on prior occasions.
We must have been approaching twenty in number, and set off in our usual way. We began by reading two short poems, then walked ourselves slowly around the harbour and up the cliffs to the west. The weather was ideal – a late afternoon sun to buoy us, and a gentle breeze to keep us fresh. Each time that we paused to read poems, Melanie would follow with some wonderful flora folklore. Meanwhile, Tim mingled with the group, sharing neurological insights on an individual basis.
Some of the walk's highlights included Melanie's cultural history of the horse tail plant and Alexander's plant, which showed her incredible passion for, and deep knowledge of, the local landscape, not to mention her brief history of the formation of the Warren. And the one time Tim addressed the group as a whole was to talk about the evolution of the eye and how this had shaped our perception of the landscape through which we walked. When he explained that technicolour vision was a later evolutionary adaptation, enabling us to see the green of leaf and grass, one colour-blind member of the party stopped to ask whether they were perhaps less evolved than the rest of those present. No answer was forthcoming.
The mood on the walk was jovial and open. People who had never met before talked freely, and felt relaxed together. This seems to me one of walking's many great qualities: its ability to break people out of their shells, to help them let down their guards and be more fully with their companions.
The blog posts will revert to their more reflective nature again with the next instalment, as the walks themselves return to their more contemplative stance.
If you would like to join us for a silent morning walk, please do come along. It’s entirely free, and we’d love to see you there. The next one is on Friday 30th June. We meet outside the foyer of Folkestone Quarterhouse at 6.00pm. Walks last for one hour and end back where they begin. Dogs and children are welcome. You can find out more at https://www.quarterhouse.co.uk/whats-on/in-praise-of-walking