Sunday, 24 July 2011

Walking (parts of) The Tyne

On Friday I joined Port of Tyne writer-in-residence, Michael Chaplin, for day seven of his walk along the tidal reach of the river Tyne. I’d previously joined him on day two, walking from St. Paul’s church in Jarrow to the A&P marine engineering facility at Hebburn. Michael is writing a book based on a walk of both sides of the tidal reach of the Tyne, taking, what he calls ‘the river’s pulse’. It’s a fascinating idea and one that links directly into my book so I’ve been thrilled to take part in some small sections with him.

The stretch from Newburn/Lemington to Newcastle Quayside, following as close to the river as possible, was particularly interesting from the point of view of someone who lives on the south side of the Tyne, near its mouth. Being this far up, I got to experience the bigger picture; the river as one massive entity, of which South Shields is merely a small part.

Similarly, taking part in an immensely fun river cruise yesterday, as well as getting the train over to Wylam to have a pint in The Boathouse, I experienced Andrew Motion’s cleansing of the eyeballs before beginning to look at a familiar place. Book-wise, I’m not sure how much of the western Newcastle sections will make it in, but it has made me reconsider the walking element, or its importance, at least. I think I filled four pages of my notebook during the days’ walking: if I actually get out and do the full walk for my book, I know I’ll end up adding quite a bit more. So with that in mind, watch this space for news of more poetic walks and hopefully, eventually, a book...

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