I’ve lived in the Blackwater Valley area for nearly a decade now, and as a keen runner and walker, I have frequently come across the wayfinding infrastructure of the Blackwater Valley Path. It became one of those ritualistic things whereby I would mentally log that I needed to research the path when I got back home, but as per usual, the task slipped from memory as the drudgery of the fog of daily life kicked back in after the mental clarity of a run. So it’s little surprise to be honest that it has taken nearly ten years (9 years, and 6 months 2 weeks and 3 days to be precise) to finally research the route, get up to fitness and most difficult, find a spare day to walk the whole 23 miles of the Blackwater Valley Path.
But why did I feel so drawn to it? What is it about a relatively random collection of pathways that have been transformed and manicured by the good folk at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust from a site of industrialised landscape extraction to a network of middle-class leisure and residential pursuits over the last 40 years or so? The answer is simply ‘because geography’. Or perhaps more disciplinarily, cultural geography.Read More