We do a lot of walking here on Rum. Walking is our main form of transport, of getting ourselves and various stuff around. I have always walked a lot, home from school, home from the pub or nightclub, to work. When the children were babies I walked for miles pushing pushchairs, with a baby strapped to me or clutching the tiny hand of a new walker. We used to walk from the house, or sometimes drive to a different location to walk – in the woods, on the beach, across the downs, around a nature reserve.
Walking with small children is a totally different experience to walking as an adult though. You are slower, the walk does not have a purpose as an end goal, the walk itself is often the purpose. To get some fresh air, to sooth frayed tempers, to get a change of scenery, to splash in puddles, to soak up the sunshine. We often walked around Bonfire night to spot fireworks, or near to Christmas to look at the lights displays neighbours had. I am sure I have shared before the story of a walk to the library taking a short cut through an alleyway with Davies and Scarlett as very young children and Scarlett exclaiming over the diamonds and emeralds and their beauty as I tried to rush us along the litter filled, urine scented damp alley way. She was of course talking about broken beer bottles, to her the shattered green and white glass was beautiful.
A great ‘walking for the sake of walking’ idea we used a lot when Davies and Scarlett were little was a Penny Walk – every time you come to a fork or turn in the road you flip a coin, heads is left, tails is right. Sometimes you end up circling back on yourself, often you take dead ends or head down paths you would never usually venture. Sometimes we would task ourselves with finding ‘clues’ or spotting the letters of our names – car registrations, street names, writing on drain covers, road signs, shop fronts, house names. We would spot cats, birds, interesting things in people’s gardens.
Here on Rum we never cease seeing the beauty of our surroundings, often pausing to comment and note the colour changes, spot the wildlife, hear the sound of the river changing flow, take photos, but even so we sometimes don’t take the paths less trodden. We don’t always spot the different perspectives. We are all of a similar height these days so there is no body walking at knee height seeing the down-low perspective. This last week though Ady and I have both been seeing new sights on Rum.
Ady has been ghillie-ing, leading a Rum pony to collect culled deer stags. This has taken him up high onto Rum’s peaks, across the island on previously untrodden paths, walking slow at the pony’s pace, pausing to ensure the deer is secure on the saddle. It is a different view of Rum, you are looking down rather than up, able to see the sea all around and realise that Rum is not so very large at all with land beyond.
Meanwhile I’ve been bramble picking, just the opposite. Down low, rummaging in the undergrowth, looking up at a towering Rum, tall trees, taller peaks. It’s been a glimpse into the world of fairies and wee woodland folk. Dewdrops on spider webs, tiny toadstools and mini waterfalls.
Chasing the brambles, or leading a pony, it’s been a return to a walk with a different purpose, a peek into a different world sitting side by side with the one we usually see. Seeing the extremes of high and low, of big and small, heads or tails.