On the Edge

Alan Dix
Talis and University of Birmingham

Evening talk at HighWire, Lancaster University, 4th February 2016

Full reference:
A. Dix (2016). On the Edge. Evening talk at HighWire, Lancaster University, 4th February 2016.
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I will share some of the more personal aspects of my 2013 walk around Wales. 

The thousand miles of the edge of Wales, borders and coast, cuts through areas of breath-taking scenery and extreme deprivation.  The former includes both well known beauty spots and places of unexpected serenity, but it is probably the latter that taught me most.

One of the recurring themes is of inundation: the tsunami of 1607 that drowned vast swathes of south-east Wales and Somerset, issues of energy and climate change, dykes and failing sea defences, shifting beaches and eroding cliffs, towns and villages slated to be sacrificed to the sea, and the pervading legend of the Lost Cantrefs beneath Cardigan Bay.

Lost lands … hiraeth, that untranslatable unassuagable sense of loss for home and all that has been or maybe could have been. 

A thousand miles, three thousand footfalls, takes its toll, physically and emotionally, not least if you hadn't walked seriously for thirty years.  From growing fitness, to bodily breakdown, and unexpected benefits – continuing when you have no physical or mental reserves – the power of people and a simple decision.  Times of pain that will never be forgotten, and yet I would happily repeat tomorrow.  Not so different from a PhD.


Wales talk-tiree-oct-2013 from Alan Dix


Alan Dix 9/2/2016