You find yourself in an issue of the magazine lit equally by the golden rays of autumn and the ominous creep of twilight – the shimmer of the countryside at its ripest, and the shadow of halloween and winter, advancing across the sundial of the year and our lives. For some this is an occasion for regret and frantic denial – fly south! Apply emollients! Turn back time! But I think walkers have a more grown-up appreciation of life’s light and necessary shade, its nuance, richness and complexity, so beautifully encapsulated in autumn.
Because to walk is to be at home with contradiction – it’s effortful, yet pleasurable; it bombards with stimulation and yet it relaxes; it impresses on you your insignificance in the great scheme of things, and yet returns you home with a greater feeling of self-worth. Perhaps most of all, it convinces you pleasure doesn’t always present itself in advertiser-approved packages. It’s at least as nice drying out as it is not getting wet in the first place; there’s as much joy in the farty squelch of a footstep late in the walk as in the sunset on the drive home. Just as, in fairy tales, there is as much to savour in the witches as the cottages made of cake, there’s as much to set your senses, soul and imagination a-tingle in autumn’s gloaming as its gold.
Guy Procter, Editor