Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Solace in Nature (and Solitude)

January 6, 2014

unplug

When you work in a large city, and you work with people every day and then ride home on a crowded train, I find it is often easy to dream of being alone.

This is when I start planning holidays in my head spent walking the cliffs of Dorset or Cornwall, or spend whole days longing for my parents’ coastal farm in New Zealand.  I dream of landscapes without people, and start to feel some peace.  But when I can’t actually get away and go to such places, sometimes a narrative containing an exploration of solitude and wilderness is just as restorative.

So, my comfort shelf: the books I turn to when I’m looking for that wild and quiet place.

Plainwater by Anne Carson

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean

Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills by Neil Ansell

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Katiki Point

March 14, 2013

moeraki lighthouse

Many people visiting New Zealand skip Coastal Otago for the grand mountainous splendor of Mackenzie Country and Central Otago, but from the Waitaki down to the Catlins is one of my favourite parts of the South Island.  It’s only a five hour drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, and there are plenty of places to stop on the way.

One of the best places to visit is Moeraki, but don’t just go see the Moeraki Boulders and eat a delicious lunch at Fleurs Cafe.  One of Moeraki’s best kept secrets is Katiki Point – a short cliff top walk with beautiful ocean views and lots of wildlife.

From Moeraki town center, drive down Lighthouse Road.  There is a public carpark at the lighthouse.  Walk from here through the long grass and fields towards the point.  Yellow Eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins do nest here, so try and keep your voices low and watch out for holes in the path (Little Blues often build their nest in abandoned rabbit holes).  You can often see Yellow Eyed Penguins on the beach, or standing on the hills around the beach moulting.  There is also a reasonable sized seal colony here and huge numbers of NZ Shags (Cormorants).

Katiki point is also the site of an old Maori Pa.  If you go at low tide you can walk over the rocks to the pa site.

Walks in Coffs Harbour

January 24, 2013

coffs harbour mangroves

Australian summers should be spent taking long morning walks and dipping into the swelling ocean thrice daily.  This was my Christmas this year – staying with the wonderful Frank and Ali in their beautiful home in Coffs Harbour.  Nothing but wandering, knitting, reading, scrabble, eating leftover ham and mango chutney and floating from wave to wave.

Finding Wilderness in Singapore

January 21, 2013

Macritchie Reservoir

You might think that Singapore is all skyscrapers and shopping malls, but there is a quiet little oasis in the middle of the island called MacRitchie Reservoir that is perfect for an escape from the city one afternoon.  By catching a train and then a short bus ride, you can find the start of a bush walk that takes you on swing bridges across bush canopy, past cheeky monkeys and other wildlife, to a large network of boardwalk around the edge of Singapore’s main water supply and then through a public park.  You will meet lots of joggers and other walkers, but for the most part this 10+ kilometer walk is very peaceful, and teeming with wildlife (we saw monkeys, birds, terrapins and giant water lizards).

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Girl in Papatowai

January 8, 2012

One of my favourite places in the entire world is a place called Papatowai in the Catlins, south of Dunedin. We spent Easters there when I was a child, and I still love to visit whenever I go back to New Zealand.

papatowai estuary

This part of the South Island coast has rock pools and tide pools, an estuary that drains out at low tide, South Island Rata that hang low over the sand and old growth Totara. It’s one of those places that you go to stay and not leave. Just get out your map, drawn a circle around where you are staying and go out explore a very small part of the world – climb your way around rock pools, walk up and down the coast, wander across the estuary in zig zags like the spoon bills that live there, sit inside by the fire.  Eat good food, go to sleep and then get up and do it all again.

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