Matt

walks

A small child, just visible, sleeps in a green tent against the green backdrop of Dartmoor.

The outcome last week of a wealthy landowner’s high court case was sadly predictable: he’s used his money to strip people of their legal right to camp on Dartmoor. As the fight to win back this right goes on, I’ll look back fondly on nights I’ve spent on the moor.

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Sheep graze on a hill covered by low cloud.

One January morning I stepped out of my front door and didn’t return until the sun was setting and I’d walked 30km.

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A bike leans against a graffitied concrete wall in an underpass.

I’m no lover of cities, yet I'm drawn to edgelands – those transitional spaces that are neither urban nor rural. Seek them out and you’ll find, laid bare, the threads connecting our built and natural worlds.

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A view from the Black Mountains in Wales, the landscape beyond covered in cloud

We drove through thick fog for an hour before turning onto the mountain road. As I steered the car through the gloom, my eyes were fixed on the narrow lane – but Tom was looking skywards, excited. He’d spotted a patch of blue. To our surprise, by the time we reached the parking place at the start of the walk, we were above the cloud and in the most beautiful of winter days.

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A waterfall called Sgwd-yr-Eira, The Falling of the Snow, makes a white curtain as it plunges into a pool below

We tread carefully along the rock-cut path, our faces misted with spray and our voices raised against the white noise of the plunging water. This is what we’ve come to see, this is Sgwd-yr-Eira – the Falling of the Snow.

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It was an adventure I’d dreamed about since a childhood bedtime story – an adventure that spanned 14 years, starting in Minehead when I was a teenager and finishing in Poole as I was about to become a parent.

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Two distant figures walk up a snow covered hill through sparse woodland.

Another snowfall. Peering through the window into the early-morning gloom we could see a deep covering in the street outside. The hill beyond was obscured by cloud but we knew straight away that we wanted to go up there.

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The silhouette of an adult, a child and a dog on a lead walking on the canal towpath underneath a road bridge.

Keen to escape rural mud after a wet winter, we caught the train into Birmingham for an urban wander and, for one of us, an unscheduled swim.

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A chocolate Labrador sits, tongue hanging out, by a wooden signpost marking the source of the River Severn.

Every winter, I climb the hill behind our house to see the extent of the flooding in the vale below. It’s hard to believe this immense volume of water starts its journey in a muddy puddle on a Welsh hillside.

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