Day Out Walking The Hollow Ways

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Jan 6, 2017
Here There & Everywhere
Weekend just gone, and I was feeling a little stir crazy because the weather had been a bit ropey and I hadn’t been out for a bit. But Saturday afternoon wasn’t so bad and I decided I would go out for a walk along a couple of hollow ways that run across the North Downs.


Hollow ways can be found across the country and are deep track ways, often many feet below the surface, that have been steadily worn away over centuries, if not millennia, by human feet, animal feet, and weather. In cross section they are like a ‘C’ turned on its side with earth banks to the side and arching branches above.

The lonely tracks across the open Downs are little more than scratches in the chalk. It is a pleasure in itself to walk them on your own but you soon come to accept those lonely pathways as a companion, and an eager companion at that - taking you by the hand and leading you over the feminine curves of the landscape into other places. I walked a short section across the grassy down-land, coming over one hill to find a kestrel hovering on the opposite side. This left us parallel to each other, at the same altitude, straight at each other - the same view.


If the tracks are scratches then the hollow ways are deep gouges. So often they are flanked by yew trees whose roots claw through the banks like a Gordian knot and take you down below the surface world of the familiar into new lands, new worlds, new ways of looking and seeing. Though your physical horizons become limited your imaginative ones widen.


Spots like these enable you to be part of the world and yet separate from it at the same time. Your imagination is both anchored and set free - tied to the place yet roaming over possibilities of what might happen. Old worries are forgotten, dark riders may approach, past loves come back without their faults, plans are planned, no company is needed or sought.


Nothing is asked of the spirits above nor the spirits below.

Another set of feet take their part, along with the many other feet that have been this way; the cattle, the carts, the rain and snow. All companions, one and all.


A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
SE Wales
Nicely written; sometimes far too much emphasis placed on images, methinks, but writing like this will summon the images and bring you along anyway.
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