Walking alone

I went for another hike yesterday, from Konz to Trier Pallien along the Moselsteig path, which makes it significantly longer than if one went as the crow flies, or along the more direct Jakobsweg which I will be walking later this year.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate over the last few years has been the ability to go walking by myself, to give myself some personal space for reflection and peace of mind. It’s something I’ve never really been able to achieve in any other activity, but something which seems to be particularly possible, particularly enabled when I go off by myself for a few hours into the woods, or up a hill. I don’t know why, but there is something about feeling alone, really alone, with yourself and with your thoughts which is appealing, and which helps me feel somehow calmer and more at peace by the time I return.

A friend of mine will also be coming to see me in Trier in a few weeks, which I am also really looking forward to, as it’s someone whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. It will be good to see him again, and I feel lucky that I am so easily able to stay in touch with my friends and family in this way.

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Back at work, and hiking the Eifelsteig

This week has been fairly busy. I returned to work on Wednesday, which was enjoyable yet intense as it usually is.

This weeek I also decided to try something new, which was to try to organize some language tandems in order to improve my spoken German. This went better than expected, and I managed to organize two in the last week, in the latter of which I ended up speaking German for a full two hours. This wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated it might be, and I feel I got a lot out of it. If I continue like this, I’m sure my spoken German can only continue to improve. Moreover the people I met were young people like me, and I hope it might lead to some kind of meaningful friendship. But I have to wait and see!

Yesterday I decided to go for a long hike along the Eifelsteig, from Kordel to Trier. I decided to do this without a map, which was either brave or stupid, instead relying on the waymarking, which is constant throughout the trail. It was beautiful, particularly the part through Butzerbacher Wald, where I had to cross some rope bridges over waterfalls.

Unfortunately towards the end there was a diversion from the path due to forestry works, which led to me getting a bit lost and having to extend my walk by about two or three miles. This was a little bit stressful, but I managed to find the way back to Trier eventually, helped no doubt by my familiarity with the forested area near to Biewer on the way to Trier.

I am glad to get out into the hills again, and I hope to make this a regular habit that I can keep up every weekend. All in all though, I am enjoying things now that I’m back in Trier, and looking forward to the weeks to come.

Walks around Oxford: 5 of the Best

Do you enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors? Unfortunately Oxford is mostly a very flat place, but Oxford does offer opportunities for rambling, especially if you enjoy river walks, gardens and the paths of the English countryside. All of these short walks can be done from Oxford city centre, while the longer walks require you to use public transport.

Short Walks

These are short walks that can be completed in 1-2 hours, and are done in public parks and green spaces which are easily accessible by foot from the centre of Oxford. A pair of walking boots will keep your feet warm and dry, but they are not absolutely essential.

1. University Parks

This is a university-owned sports and recreation ground open year round to the public, offering well kept gardens, green space, and walking paths. Conveniently located for Lady Margaret Hall, Keble College and Wolfson College, they make an excellent stop for anyone visiting the Oxford colleges for the day.

More information and a map can be found on the University Parks website.

2. Port Meadow

A large green space which is rich in wildlife and accessible from the Jericho region of the city, port meadow has a lot of offer: walking, birding, and even swimming in summer. As you enter the meadow from the Walton Well car park, walk towards the river, across the bridge and continue right along the river path, which continues towards Wolvercote, with a number of pub stops on the way.

3. Christ Church Meadow

A large green space belong to Chirst Church, an Oxford college, and accessible from St Aldates in central Oxford. Although crammed with tourists, the meadow offers gardens, a river walk and a view of rowers on the Isis.

More information can be found on the Christ Church website.

Longer Walks

These walks ideally require some basic navigational skills, namely the ability to use a map (here, the EXP 180 ordinance survery map of Oxford) as well as a compass, and would best be completed in a pair of walking boots, especially in the wetter and colder months of the year. However, they are all along paths and safe, flat terrain, and are suitable for beginners. They are all about 16km long, and would take 2.5-4 hours to complete depending on your pace.

4. Oxford to Abingdon

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One of my favourite walks to complete in summer, this is a gentle walk along the Thames path, seeing locks and plenty of traditional houseboats along the way. Walk down St Aldates to the Folly Bridge, then onto the Thames path, past Iffley and Sandford locks and onto Abingdon. The bus back to Oxford runs regularly, and the timetables can be found here.

5. Shotover Country Park

A walk to a part of Oxford frequented by CS Lewis, and which played an important role in his becoming a born-again Christian in 1929. Walk from central Oxford to Sandhills, then Forest Hill, Shotover house, noting the gothic revival folly at the eastern end of the lake, then walk through Shotover Country Park to the CS Lewis Nature reserve, where it’s possible to see CS Lewis’ house, and the Trinity Church which includes a stained-glass window depicting Narnia, and the churchyard with Lewis’ grave. From here it’s possible to walk back the way you came, or take the bus from London road.