Reflections on a long walk
The day after we reached Hull, feeling happy and sad to have finished, we left our hotel in Hessle and walked to the middle of the Humber Bridge, carrying the stones we had gathered from the tributaries along the way, and the water that we collected from our starting point in Mytholmroyd.
The stones were all from the early part of the journey when we could still climb down to the
water, and were collected from the Salterhebble, Red Brook, Black Brook, Ryeburne, Owler Beck, and Pildacre Mill Beck.
We stood at the centre of the bridge and thought about how far we had come, and how far the water had travelled from the source of the Calder in a spring above Todmorden, and from all those other springs and becks that feed the Calder, Aire, Ouse and Humber, each drop finding its way here to flow under the Humber Bridge.
The size of the river and span of the bridge were beyond comprehension as we thought of the place we had started in Mytholmoyd. Even in its most violent flooding, the Calder is a drop in this vast estuary. I found myself thinking – what multiple of our river would it take to form this vast expanse of water.
We had carried the water there by foot, but it belonged back in the river so we emptied the bottle over the railing. Then we dropped the stones one by one, naming their origin, and returned them to the river bed.
When we came to live in Mytholmroyd, it was our first experience of living away from the city, and being so close to the natural world. We crossed the river every day to the station or the bread shop or to see friends or to walk in the hills, and the river was an anchor in this new place. But within two years, the river had become something to fear after our first experience of flooding. Our walk had many purposes but one was to learn about the river, to put it into context and to become its friend again. And here, on this bridge, our home river was so small and insignificant, that it became something to nurture and protect.
The walk has been such a joy and privilege, but as we reach the end, we are horribly aware of the millions of people in Ukraine and other places in the world who are walking not for pleasure but for survival. We walked to regain a sense of connection with our home and the walk has told us something about the importance of place and belonging. Our sense of home has grown to take in the whole of this journey. We hope that those forced to leave their homes will find a new place of belonging for a shorter or longer time and we dedicate this whole walk to all those looking for a new place to call home.
Thanks for travelling with us through this blog. We will be taking a break for the rest of the year, while we focus on the creative work that has been inspired by this walk. Over the weekend of 29/30 October 2022, Annie will be exhibiting textile work from this project at Northlight Studios in Hebden Bridge, and we hope that this work will tour to some of the places we passed through on our journey. If you would be interested in showing the work please contact msannieharrison(at)gmail.com. Next year we will be back on the road, walking from our village to Liverpool, following the canal network and experiencing a different type of waterway. Until then, keep safe.