4 Writers/ 4th May/ 4th Walking

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island; 
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters 
This land was made for you and Me.

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

Another dawning day saw me driving up to Dunbar. Sunday 4th May. The launch of the CoastWord Festival program. The day that 4 writers were planning to walk along the the forth from Aberlady Bay to Dunbar in a day.

The drive up was wet and misty. I didn’t fancy the walk at this point. but by the time 9.30 rolled along and all writers were dropped off at Aberlady, the sun came out.  We started off from Aberlady Nature Reserve and it was such a beautiful place to start, we couldn’t help be inspired.

This walk was aimed at marking the beginning of the CoastWord Festival which will run throughout a number of venues in Dunbar from Friday 20 June to Sunday 22 June. This idea of walking home from Hannah Lavery was seen as a lead up event, a chance to create a buzz around the festival which promises to be a fun-packed, awe-inspiring weekend for the whole family.

I will be honest. I was acting like a child let loose for the day while on this walk. My eyes have been recently opened to nature and everything along the way were new things to see and learn about. No doubt Colin Will had grounds to get annoyed with me as I kept asking, What’s thing? What’s that? But give Colin his due, he was very patient with me and very generous with his knowledge. My phone was constantly out, taking pictures and jotting down notes as I didn’t want to forget a thing. I knew I would be writing about this walk, while on route but also in the months to come and it is important when writing about nature to be authentic, to be specific, to use the correct names for vegetation and animals. Not from a scientific angle ( well not for me) but in a sense of bringing this wonderful and rich world to life for my readers.

As our theme tune of the day, Roy Møller, had kindly posted up on Facebook Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway, 
I saw above me that endless skyway: 
I saw below me that golden valley: 
This land was made for you and me. (WG)

The words seem so apt for our experience on Sunday, as we walked through the Nature Reserve out towards Aberlady Bay.

It was here that we made our first stop for a write. It started out with small stones. What we wrote we shared. We filmed the readings too. We utilized all our senses as we took inspiration from where we sat, and through the land and sea we had walked.

Minute ruby cabbages, rosebay willow herb sprouting through shellsands. The sea is way out. You can still hear her purr.

And as the day grew older, our words grew longer, as more and more of the walking infiltrated our subconsciousness, each others’ words became ours and more so. Onward over Gullane beach into the sleeping town for sustenance.

North Berwick – East Beach
Then onwards, with a bus to North Berwick, across the sands there through the glen. Another stop for coffee and cake at Hannah’s mother’s house and a write in her garden hut.

With the sloping fields, lush green and prickly yellow gorse, I create myself into another plotline as I write in the hut at the bottom of the garden.

Almost like a walking renga but much much more as we moved on through the landscape, collecting images, words, sharing memories and hopes and dreams. Stopping again and again to write, share and read for film.

It was a memorising experience that makes me tingle at the thought of it. There is still more to come from that walk across the land.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps 
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts; 
And all around me a voice was sounding: 
This land was made for you and me. (WG)

Onto the John Muir Way to Dunbar, via Seacliff and Belhaven Bay, and the weather was on the turn and the waves were crashing off the rocks.

such pure natural force, seasplash, seacrash, she listens to the sounds, suresplash, seemcrash, she listens for the signs, always an affinity with the sea.

The pace slowed, out of tiredness but also because we were close to the end, and I didn’t want this event to end. I could have turned around and done it all again. It was a luxury to walk with such writers for the day, to write and share our words. It was such a wonderful day. I just want to know, when the next one will be?