Winning tip: on the beach in London
London is an incredible city, but it loses some of its charm when you find yourself confined to a flat that is too small. At the first confinement I found myself strolling the streets of Wapping one morning in an attempt to avoid cabin fever. Near Shadwell Basin, I flopped down the Thames trail onto a tiny sandy patch of beach where I sat for a while listening to the lapping of the river and breaking rocks and looking at the water glistening in the morning light. Had it not been for the Canary Wharf offices on the horizon, he could easily have believed for a moment that he was not in the middle of a city in the grip of a pandemic.
Birmingham waterway, but not a canal
While Birmingham is known for its extensive canal network, less attention is paid to its natural rivers and streams. Since the first confinement, however, I have discovered the Bourn Brook Walkway, a leafy public road that follows this small stream between Harborne and Woodgate Valley National Park. Now I walk a stretch almost every week and I love how quiet it is. I always pause at a particular bridge to listen to the sound of rushing water that is so difficult to find elsewhere in the city and to watch the seasons change.
Tumultuous life, peaceful grave, lancashire
Claughton-on-Brock church, where we baptized our first child, is sequestered in the hills that rise to Bowland Fells. The sumptuously beautiful interior, all red and gold, is now closed, but not the graveyard, which is at its best on a sunny day when the surrounding trees cast dappled shade.
An unusually elegant headstone carved by sculptor and type designer Eric Gill is decaying rather rapidly, a stone softer than the surrounding granite monoliths. The grave is for May Reeves, a former lover of Gill and her parents. Reeves was a school teacher who gave up respectability to live with Gill and his extended Bohemian family. Nearby tombs contain the bones of the first saints. It is such a quiet place to reflect on birth, love, life, and death.
Watercress walks, Hertfordshire
London Road in St Albans is a very busy route leading to the M25. After living here for 15 years, I recently discovered a hidden oasis, the Watercress Wildlife Association. It is a miniature nature reserve, with a mosaic of habitats created from ancient watercress beds. Now it is a grouper and a meadow, a spit and thicket and a swamp of reeds and reeds. No one is ever here when I visit during the week. Just me, the ducklings and the robin and wren singers. It is a quiet place where breathing slows down and thoughts evaporate.
Cinder Track Silence, North Yorkshire
the Cinder track travels more than 20 miles between Whitby and Scarborough, a former railway line now paved for the pleasure of walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Less than a mile from my house, the road crosses a large viaduct over the Esk. Here you can see miles. The abbey to the north, snow-covered moorland to the south, and below me the quiet flow of the river. On silent nights I take my camera to the viaduct to photograph the fiery winter sunsets, the trio of horses under the gnarled tree, and the graveyard of ships lying on the banks. I am at peace in a noisy world.
Ancient calm on Ridgeway, Oxfordshire
The ocean view was my usual shortcut to tranquility. Locked in a landlocked county, this is no longer possible, but I found a similar peace in the expansive views from the Ridgeway National Trail, high up on the North Wessex Downs. There can be a lot of movement around Uffington, where there is a prehistoric white horse carved in chalk and an iron age fortress, but there are also quiet sections in remote lands. It is comforting to walk down such an ancient path, thinking of Bronze Age merchants, Viking armies, and generations of ranchers who traveled the same route.
Barbados, Ross and Cromarty
Gruinard Bay in North West Scotland is my quiet place. It is a remote coastal inlet on the west coast, a very relaxing and peaceful place, ideal for walking. It has a fantastic little beach with a walkway leading to it from the little road above, and the views from the beach are gorgeous, especially on a clear day. I was last here late last year between closed closings, and if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought it was Barbados!
Hills and mudflats, Suffolk
Herringfleet Hills It is located on the Norfolk / Suffolk border, off the B1074. There is a short hike through a wide expanse of grass, where the huge skies completely expose you to the elements. The hillside forests provide a beautiful canopy of deciduous trees to explore. There are magical lairs and adventurous swings for the kids and the young at heart. The opposite side of the forest offers stunning views of the Herringfleet swamps, as well as the wildlife and farm animals that call them home. The Hills offers three contrasting landscapes in one walk, always different, never crowded.
• Small charge for parking
River of Dreams, Hertfordshire
There are around 200 calcareous rivers around the world and most of them are in the south and east of England. One is a few steps from my house. The Rhee rises from chalk springs in Ashwell, Hertfordshire, winds north through southern Cambridgeshire, and forms part of the parish boundary of my hometown. Whether it’s transient patches of sunlight in the water, flashing like fairy lights, demoiselles dancing with bands in the summer, or moorhens emerging from the edge of the shore, there’s always something to appreciate. When you are in this quiet place, everything else is on hold.
Rising above it all, Glasgow
Glasgow’s Cathkin Braes Lookout, from which you can see all four undulating corners of the city, gives those lucky enough to find it a feeling of floating above real life, taking in the hustle and bustle and drama (or the lack of it) of a distant time. and place. Accessed via the cluttered cycle tracks of Cathkin’s “Big Wood,” the view of the city’s iconic landmarks – the Gothic cathedral, Finnieston Crane, the domino-like skyscraper – provides a reminder that nothing is forever. The noises of the city are muffled by the trees, and children and blackbirds provide just the right amount of noise.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism