Clare Balding joins singer Feargal Sharkey for a river walk on the south London/Surrey border along the River Hogsmill one of just 200 chalk streams in the world. He's always been a rambler and is currently walking all of the river routes of London. He is often dismayed and pleased in equal measure at the state of our rivers as he is a passionate advocate for water health and quality.
The walk is part of the London Loop and starts from Ewell West Station and ends at Kingston upon Thames passing through Old Malden.
Producer: Maggie Ayre
An Aussie Walkabout... in Norfolk
Clare Balding goes walkabout with a group of Australian women who call themselves The Norfolk Broads. They include a Colman, of mustard fame, and one ‘honorary Aussie’, actually a Texan who once dated John Wayne’s son. They’ve all ended up living in this eastern corner of England and have discovered fun and companionship by exploring their new home on foot. They walk a stretch of Norfolk’s Boudicca Way from Diss to Shimpling. On the way, Clare discovers what brought them here, how they've adapted to their new home, and how to pronounce local town names...
Producer: Karen Gregor
To the Lighthouse!
Clare is walking to a land-based lighthouse on today’s Ramblings. Smeaton’s Tower was originally on the Eddystone Reef, twelve miles out to sea on Plymouth Sound but when it was replaced by a new structure in 1882, the Tower was moved onshore and now stands on Plymouth Hoe. Tom Nancollas is Clare’s guide. He has written a book - Seashaken Houses - which tells of his passion for lighthouses and their many extraordinary stories. Also joining them on the walk is Tom’s friend Michael O’Mahony. He joined Tom on two of his research trips to lighthouses, which, as he recalls, ended in an undignified fashion!
On their walk, Tom discusses his fascination for lighthouses and a strange family coincidence that emerged unexpectedly during his research: he discovered an ancestor had visited Smeaton’s Tower before him – as part of the team who dismantled the tower and moved it to the mainland.
They start their walk by the Devonport Column, take in interesting parts of Plymouth and its coastline and end at the distinctive red and white 'winning post' of Smeaton's Tower itself.
If you're reading this on the Radio 4 webpage, you can scroll down to the 'related links' section to find out more, including about Tom's book.
Producer: Karen Gregor
Walking a Poem on The Malverns
Clare Balding is taking a poem for a walk on today’s Ramblings. Joining her is Jean Atkin, the newly appointed Troubadour of the Malvern Hills. Jean takes Clare, stanza by stanza, to each of the locations featured in one of her poems. Joining them is Peter Sutton who has translated into modern English the famous mediaeval poem ‘Piers Plowman’ which starts with the poet asleep on the Malvern Hills. Also walking is David Armitage who works for the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; he discusses the similarities he sees between the Malverns and some African landscapes, and shows Clare a field packed with the most extraordinary amount of ant hills.
The Troubadour of the Hills is a project devised by the Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Malvern Hills AONB. If you're reading this on the Radio 4 website, please scroll down for some photos from the walk and some related links which you can follow to find out more.
A Creative Soldier
Clare Balding walks across Dartmoor with a former soldier whose retirement has taken him in a surprising direction.
Andy Salmon is a former soldier who now runs creative events which he hopes will inspire peace and reconciliation. As the former Commandant General of the Royal Marines, Andy has much experience to draw upon. He spent 36 years in the Marines and served in many global conflicts.
It might sound unlikely, but the ‘Journey Through Conflict’ events he now stages are a mixture of art, music and storytelling during which he and other former soldiers share their wartime experiences.
In this edition of Ramblings, he takes Clare Balding for a challenging walk across a section of Dartmoor – which is a significant training location for the Royal Marines - on the way, they discuss what led him into such an unusual retirement.
If you are reading this on the Ramblings webpage, you can scroll down to the 'related links' section to find more information about Andy's project.