Monday, October 27, 2014

The old railway to Keswick and wabi sabi

For me old railway lines and canals fascinate me as weaving together of nature and human imagination and I have walked them for over 30 years well before most of them began to be restored.  Now I see them as examples of wabi sabi and as hidden places, sanctuaries able to provide ways for birds and animals to travel and vegetation to flourish free from weedkillers. the line from Keswick weaves between river and bank with not far away the A road which gives the illusion of a flat landscape which one observes rather than a participatory landscape.

Gravel grates underfoot, yellow tiny leaves eddy in autumn sunshine, town sounds give way to an interplay of running river and running traffic. Under the concrete bridge arching overhead the remains of a tunnel buried under earth a patch of darkness, a reminder of so many stories that like the bright green lichen flow along this path, the freight framed in bridge arches that carry us and in bridges and tunnels that frame us.

Old signs lean over in decay, bridges and tunnels, the carved walls of blasted out granite remind the walker that we are strolling on the sweat and work, the oil and steam and coal, steel hammered out in red hot furnaces now with their patina of rust and dew encrusted cobwebs on show to these walkers.

The  old line is set in a modest dress of trees offering a decolletage of soaring fells and flirts with the weaving river singing her watery songs ignoring the proud highway that rushes by. This track is about waiting and movement as trains moved and gave way to each other on this single track we now pause to open gates or step aside for cyclists.

Stopping for water and chocolate to refresh, the coal and water of the walker, as squirrels chase each other across the path and birds sing then fly revealing flashes of blue and yellow. 

We make our own turntable and timetable as the parking meter ticks back in the town near the old platforms now suggesting a fossilized sea wave in mid floe from the iron and steam tide which ebbed from here in 1972.

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