Sounding out the route
Looking for something extra to add to your walks around the city or out in the countryside? A growing library of audio tours, guides and art helps add another dimension to your excursions…
One of the best things about getting out in the fresh air for a walk is the way it brings your senses to life. The smell of a freshly cut field, or a sun-dappled woodland trail; the sight of the sun rising between two hills; and the feel of cold stone as you ascend towards a peak – all evoke and imprint memories that last long after you’ve returned home. Sounds of the countryside – or indeed the city – add to your walk too, but if you want to experience something different there’s an increasingly large choice of audio tours you can take with you to add an extra layer of knowledge and fun to your walk. Here are just a few we’ve come across recently…
New Forest, new sounds
Walkers can now take their own guide with them to discover the history and wildlife of the New Forest National Park thanks to four new audio tours. The downloadable tours on the National Park Authority’s website celebrate Alice Liddell, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, D-Day at Lepe Country Park, the history of the airfield at Stoney Cross and a tour around the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve taking in the local bird population.
‘The New Forest is bursting with so much history and wildlife,” says Jim Mitchell, Interpretation Officer with the park authority. “We wanted these tours to show a different side of the Forest – its role during World War II, the coastline and its influence on literature.”
To download a National Park audio tour visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/tours_and_trails
Hear here! Take a sound trip through history
Castleton visitors can now explore the village’s heritage using sound and touch, with free audio-guides available on MP3 players at Castleton Visitor Centre. Aimed primarly at helping visually-impaired people to tour the centre’s museum with narration and sound-effects, the tours are part of a refurbishment of the visitor centre, run by the Peak District National Park Authority. Walking through the exhibits, you can feel and touch old household implements, farming and industrial tools, a prehistoric animal’s footprint, local stone and a hang-glider. Along the way, you can summon up the sound of quarry-blasting or a brass band on Castleton Garland Day.
“The tour is very tactile,” explains Adam Whetton, of the national park’s customer service team, who is himself visually-impaired. “You can feel things like an old household mangle, a farm spade, climbing ropes or birds’ eggs. The narrators are local people, and they give you an excellent understanding of Castleton’s history and the way people made their living, as well as its wildlife and sports activities.”
For more information, contact Castleton Visitor Centre on 01629 816 558
A real hero
Our own walkmag.co.uk blogger, the enigmatic Walking Class Hero, goes above-and-beyond when it comes to creating custom soundtracks for your walk. His regular posts are packed full of great walks, insights and above all sounds – with music ranging from The Kinks to The Ting Tings. Essential reading… and listening!
A sonic odyssey on the Southbank
On a similar note, Patrick Baxter constructs soundtracks for walks as part of his walkingmusicproject. “This is a piece of ambient music that can be used to soundtrack the riverside walk along the Southbank in London,” he says of his recent Blackfriars to Westminster composition. “It is intended that the listener will download the track on to their MP3 player, start listening on their headphones at Blackfriars Bridge then simply follow the river path. The music has been specially composed to fit exactly with the surroundings; the music will end when the listener reaches Westminster. Along the way a number of important points are marked in sound – some are specific, others are less obvious. It is hoped that the music will enhance the short journey, enabling the listener to gain a new perspective on their surroundings.”
As part of their extensive series of travel audio guides, The Guardian have produced tours of Manchester, Liverpool and the Lake District, the latter narrated by Martin Wainwright, who “takes you on a short tour of the Lake District, ‘the most beautiful place in the world’ and home of Peter Rabbit” lasting just over twelve minutes. Other guides take your further afield and cover topics like music and business travel in more detail.
A Guide to British Water Birds (RRP£8.99 from BBC)
Ever wonder which bird that is lurking beyond the reeds? Join presenter Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss in this fascinating guide to the calls and songs of Britain’s most popular water birds, as heard on BBC Radio 4. Recorded in springtime on the Somerset Levels, which we featured in the Spring 2010 issue of walk, each of the programmes focuses on a different group of birds, starting with waders such as the Lapwing, Redshank, Snipe and Curlew. Then there are the warblers, who thrive in the reed beds, and the rails and crakes, including Coot, Moorhen and Spotted Crake. Last – but by no means least – are the river birds, including Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and Kingfisher.
Packed with useful information and helpful tips, this series will appeal to both the complete novice and the experienced birdwatcher who simply wants to know more about water birds. walk has five copies to give away – to enter just fill in the form below or click here for Terms & Conditions.
[This competition has now closed]