No pictures – that’s the point, I heard these but mostly didn’t see them.
Birds – so many, everywhere, but the ones that really stand out were the cuckoos, on two days; and the chiff chaffs – I had no idea what they look like until I looked it up just now. So insignificant in appearance, but their song was a persistent accompaniment most of the way along the canal, and a very welcome one at that.
Transport – a whole variety of noises
- Canal boats – a welcome sound, and of course to be expected (and hoped for). Most of the boats are quite quiet, and their gentle putt putt noise undisturbing.
- Trains – for much of the way the canal and the railway occupy adjacent space, not surprisingly because a good route for one was clearly going to be a good route for the other.
- Cars – while there were welcome long stretches when no cars could be heard, I was surprised at how pervasive traffic noise was along other stretches. There’s a busy bypass near Bath is really badly designed for poor noise reduction. There’s a busy road between Seend and Devizes that creates a lot of traffic noise. From just before Hungerford to about Theale the A4 London to Bristol road runs close to the canal (for he same reason that the canal and the railway do, and of course as the old coaching road, the A4 route long pre-dates both). Then there was the M4 just beyond Theale – this was noisy beyond belief, and the noise carried for a long long way – I was shocked to hear how far.
- Traffic noise – what can I say? – each of us who uses a car and roads is responsible for the noise and other pollution they cause. Each of us whobuys produce transported by road likewise. I talk about traffic as if it’s always about other people, but this walk brought home to me again my own responsibility. I have used each and every one of those roads many times. I did however resolve (again) to try to reduce my car use in future. But it will be a challenge, especially when public transport is often poor or non-existent.
- Helicopter – on day 3 a helicopter kept flying overhead and around and about. I believe it was a military helicopter, a reminder of the large and important military presence in Wiltshire, particularly on and around Salisbury Plain. I found it irritating and intrusive. But at the same time it sparked thoughts for those people in other places where the sound of a helicopter like this is a powerful reason for terrible fear, and I felt sadness for those people and grateful that I have no such reason for fear.
Silence – the most welcome sound of all. For long stretches of the walk the only things to break the silence were the birdsong and the chatter inside my head. Soon the chatter quietened down as well, and I was able to truly appreciate and enjoy the silence.