Dhaka, Bangladesh
UK walks with a tale to tell

UK walks with a tale to tell

(From previous issue) Before the summit there are two ring cairns. First is Moel Goedog West, which is surrounded by other stones up to a metre tall. An excavation in 1978 uncovered bronze age cremation urns. From here, the Dwyryd estuary glistens below, across to distant mountains beyond. The second cairn is some 50m east, on the other side of the path. The hill fort is close to Moel Goedog's summit and though the ditches and bank are worn, enough remains of it to be worth a visit. It's possible to carry on a further six miles north- east to the renowned and remote "crown of thorns" cairn circle of Bryn Cader Faner, or head back down past the stones for a drink at the Branwen hotel, the rear of which you passed on the way up close to the castle. Andy Burnham, editor of The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland (Watkins Media). More information on these sites at megalithic.co.uk Hawker's Hut, Morwenstow, Cornwall This circular walk in north Cornwall takes in clifftops and wooded valleys as well as a tiny driftwood hut. Hawker's Hut, the focus of the walk, sits high on the cliff and is where eccentric opium- smoking poet-priest Robert Stephen Hawker meditated and wrote poetry. From the Bush Inn, follow the road down to Morwenstow church and into the churchyard, past the figurehead of the Caledonia, a brig wrecked in 1843, which marks the burials Hawker officiated at. Morwenstow, set back from a treacherous stretch of coast, was where Hawker became known both as a missionary to a community of wreckers and smugglers, and as a poet with an eclectic dress sense. (He was often seen in a stylish combination of purple coat, white cravat, fisherman's jumper and beaver hat.) Follow the path through the graveyard to a stone stile, then past the Old Vicarage into the wooded valley below. Turn left before you reach the stream and follow the valley to emerge at the sea, with Lundy Island visible in the distance. Climb steep steps on your left to the cliff top and five minutes further on is Hawker's Hut, a tiny room the vicar constructed out of timbers from a wrecked ship. It was his place of sanctuary and inspiration, where he wrote - and indulged in the odd toke on an opium pipe. With a figure like Hawker it's difficult to distinguish the man from the myth but sit in the hut and listen to waves surging against the cliffs and it's easy to understand why he loved this place. It's a hard spot to leave but, back on the path, head on towards the GCHQ radar array before turning left, away from the sea, by Higher Sharpnose Point (where The Caledonia ran aground) up the valley to the signed path left across the fields and back to the 13th-century Bush Inn. Wyl Menmuir, author of Man Booker long-listed The Many (Salt, £8.99) Loch Nam Ban Mora, Isle of Eigg The tiny island of Eigg, off the west coast of Scotland, was, according to legend, the dominion a Pictish queen and her tribe of outsize female warriors. This walk takes you to the Loch of the Big Women, where the sisterhood met an untimely end. From the hamlet of Galmisdale follow the left hand fork in the road through mossy woods scented with wild garlic. Head to Galmisdale farmhouse across a meadow and turn left where the footpath reaches the rough hill track. Look out for the red spots that mark the ascent up Sgùrr, a rock formed from volcanic lava, which sits atop the island like a slightly squashed Hovis loaf. The climb up the hill is steady rather than gruelling. Wheatears bob along in front, flashing their white undercarriage and the high hill country opens up around you. In the distance you can see the Celtic cross that marks the site of the monastery of Kildonan. It was here that St Donan and his brotherhood of 52 monks set up home. The queen took exception to this invasion of her island and sought revenge in a fashion typical of the bloody history of the Highlands by chopping off the monks' heads after mass. The loch appears as the main track veers away to climb the summit. Follow a sheep track through the heather to the little mirrored bowl set within the hills. According to the story, after murdering the monks, the queen and her followers saw lights appear in the sky and followed these across the moors to this spot where they were led into the water and drowned while attempting to reach the tiny island in the centre. Carol Donaldson, writer and conservationist, is the author of On the Marshes (Little Toller Books, £10) Rombald's Moor Round, Ilkley, West Yorkshire Ilkley Moor, or Rombald's Moor as it's officially titled, has always loomed large in my world. I grew up in an old house on its north-west edge, and lived in its shadow until I was 23. Its wild, heathery expanses, niches of wood, hidden streams and peat bogs were a playground for us kids. From bronze age cup-and-ring carvings to stone circles, alien sightings to tales of Charles Darwin taking its waters - the moor's histories and myths seized our imaginations as surely as the landscape got in our blood. Now, whenever I return to walk this seven-mile circular, it feels no less eerie and spectacular - a place that can change in a moment, yet remain timeless. At the age of 17, half-cut and showing off, I carved my name on that moor but Ilkley Moor had carved itself into me long before. Start at the Cow and Calf Rocks car park, scrambling up the easy climb inside the gritstone quarry or taking the footpath around it. The expansive views of the River Wharfe and the Yorkshire Dales have been a magnet for centuries, as the rock graffiti testifies. Look for "E M Lancaster, 1st Battalion XXIV Foot, 1882" - chiselled a few years after that regiment fought at Rorke's Drift. Once up, follow the footpath left to wind on to moor proper. Head towards The Haystack, a slab of rock covered with some of the 400 neolithic and bronze age cup- and-ring marks on this moor. While the town below dates its origins to a first century AD Roman cavalry fort, these patterns are 4,000 years old. It's the same with the Twelve Apostles - a restored stone circle, another 20 minutes further south along a boardwalk path, on Burley Moor. Double back and carry straight on through Ilkley Crags before turning left and following the footpath west. This is heather and bracken upland country that turns a gorgeous russet and rust-brown under autumn skies, and where you can hear curlews - especially now the moor's grouse shooting license has been revoked. Drop down to the Swastika Stone, overlooking the valley. This ancient curved-limb cup-and-ring carving used to be thought of as bronze age but its striking similarity to the Camunian Rose means it was most likely carved by a Roman soldier stationed at Ilkley. Trek back east along the footpath over town, looking for a white dot up on the moor line. White Wells is a relic of Ilkley's boomtown past as a spa resort with its own, freezing cold, peat-brown dipping pool for the brave. It was here that Charles Darwin rambled, hid out and took the waters when On the Origin of Species was published in 1859. It was here, too, that in 1987 a retired copper photographed what he believed to be an alien being, which beckoned him away before vanishing in a UFO. Apparently, the incident has yet to be exposed as a hoax, which lends the moors an even greater air of mystery. Follow the path up top and open your stride all the way back to the Cow and Calf car park, tracing the footsteps of the mill-working Methodists from Halifax who, on a chapel outing to the moor, created Yorkshire's anthem, On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At, about the perils of courting without appropriate headgear. Time it right and there'll be an amazing autumn sunset as you take a restorative tea in the car park cafe, or something stronger in the pub across the road.

Share |