Lou found a circular walk online that started near where we woke up this morning – at Brown’s Store in Llandogo. It’s a location in Sex Education, which was largely shot around Symonds Yat. It is also a much beloved country store, established 1923, family run until mister Brown died. It no longer comes up on Google maps though, and the location is a building site. Why? Because Londis bought it and they are putting all their branding in. This is strange to me.
Nobody in the history of the world has ever gone “Oh hooray, there’s a Londis! Let’s stop and see what it has.” At best they’ve gone “Oh Christ the only option nearby is a Londis. Beggars can’t be choosers.” Londis is the three legged dog of supermarkets. But they still feel the need to replace well established branding with their own branding, and shut the place in the process.
We went on the walk. The walk is named after a very famous poet. The connection between the poet and the walk is at best tenuous and at worst completely specious. But yes, in 1798, Eminem may or may not have sat on a rock at the top of the walk and composed some lines.
First we walk down to the river. There’s nothing about Larkin here. There’s a closed shop that might be open. There are some brown sheep. Did Plath think about those sheep? Down to the river and turn right and perhaps blind Homer took a boat down the Wye Valley on some forgotten and nearly impossible trip to England. We follow a railway track. Maybe Owen took a train this way as he went to sign up? Through some gardens, and we start to forge up way up a long hill, not running like Kate Bush. Steady walking. Step by step. A predictable meter of steps like much of Chris Marlowe’s work. One foot after the other, but no oysters following. Old closed pubs. Maybe Byron would have stopped at one to see what he could pull. Trees and ancient land, fit for a goblin market. A waterfall! Was this Coleridge’s Xanadu? We reach the top. A stone, where the poet Byron could have lazily lain, as he did on the Peachey Stone. He didn’t. None of you other poets did either. And nor did Wordsworth. Yeah sure he wrote his poem a few miles above Tintern Abbey, and sure he could see the sylvan Wye. But this place only offers a tiny stretch of the Wye, and it is miles away from the abbey. Weird to name the walk the Wordsworth Walk. It’s like putting on a production of Waiting for Godot and writing “Tom Cruise as Godot” on all the posters. Mind you, you’d put bums on seats if you did. Get sued too.
Cleddon Shoots. Wordsworth or no Wordsworth its a powerful place up there. It actually IS where the incredible clear thinker Bertrand Russell was born. No mention of him on the walk even though you could crawl from his place of birth to the top of the falls in half an hour or so.
I have fallen in love with that part of this stupid country. We all hate ourselves and everyone who isn’t like us and we are isolating and fracturing and making ourselves smaller and smaller and smaller. It’s hard to love much about such a self destructive state. But I could lock myself in an annex of Cleddon Hall with loads of animals and books, and look out the window at the woods and the falls and the people, and I’d be perfectly happy. I could go out in the wee hours and dance under the stars, or let the waterfall soak me to the skin. Occasionally I could tolerate a visitor with news of the outside world and I’d vanish to the cellar and come up with something covered in cobwebs to be strained through muslin. Lou would have a key to my annex from the main house.
£500k minimum though for a pleasant place to live over that way. My choices needed to have been different from the outset for that to be in reach. I’ll just go sleep in a rented cottage for a night or so and recharge like I just did, and try and work out how I’ll still hit the big time money pot before I kark it.