2019 was a very exciting year for the Geopark Way. After 10 years of existence, it was recognised as a long–term walking trail by Ordnance Survey and was included on their mapping. EHT celebrated the launch of a new, bright orange edition of the Geopark Way guidebook in replacement of the original and much–loved green one. With updated introductory text, background and guidance on the geology along the route, clear directions, stories of past industries and sites of special interest, sketch maps, a useful glossary of terms, sources of further information and with a colourful fold out map included showing the geology and tourist sites within the Geopark, it is well worth the £15 price tag.
Additionally, 2019 saw a full complement of Geopark Way Wardens for the first time in a while. The Wardens are the marvellous people who voluntarily go out and check the condition of the pathways, remove overgrown foliage, reveal hidden outcrops of rock and replace damaged or missing way markers and generally keep the pathways in good condition for which EHT is always enormously grateful.
To celebrate all this positivity, offer a fresh take on the Geopark Way and promote sales of the guidebook, on Saturday 27 July 2019, over 60 people including EHT representatives, Geopark Way Wardens, invited guests and members of the public attended a very enjoyable event at Ledbury Market House with plentiful refreshments, static displays, rolling images of views along the Geopark Way and the opportunity to purchase some of EHT’s excellent merchandise as well as a copy of the new guidebook.
Attendees on the day were warmly welcomed and treated to some apt landscape verse by celebrated local poet, John Masefield and read by Councillor Dan Vesma, Ledbury’s Deputy Mayor who kindly opened the proceedings. The audience was then enlightened by a fascinating background to the setting up and future of Geoparks and the Geopark Way itself, by EHT Chair and Emeritus Professor at Birmingham University, Ian Fairchild which was very well received.
EHT’s Finance Manager and Poet in Residence, David Pamment, then performed his thoughtfully composed poem in praise of the Geopark Way, its notable features and charms. You can read and enjoy it here:
A Ghost Written Autobiography of the Geopark Way
Part One – How Long Am I?
Me? I am one-oh-nine miles
I am Earth to space and down again
and halfway up once more,
I am more than twice the travel
Twixt cathedrals door to door,
Double the distance and then some
As the Whitmans’ falcons fly,
Yet only half the passage
Of the Severn sliding by.
I am the city of Gloucester to Worthing
or Bridgnorth to Morecambe Bay,
I am Worcester’s heart to Accrington
Or four tenths of the Pennine Way.
Two thirds of Wales’s border,
Three halves of Hadrian’s wall,
Twice ‘cross London and partway back
‘Gherkin’, ‘Shard’ and all.
And I’m eight miles less than the M25,
My miles more mindful, you’ve no need to drive.
Me? I am one-oh-nine miles.
Part Two – What Am I?
Me? I am one-oh-nine miles;
I am more than one-oh-nine.
I am 17, the sections into which I’m divided.
And 6.4, the average miles of those 17.
I am 4.3, the miles from Ledbury to Holly Bush,
And also 8.2, the miles from Minsterworth to Gloucester.
I am 3, my offspring, my circular walks,
And I am 4, the counties through which I pass.
I am 84, my points of geological interest
And also 187, the way points along The Way.
I am 425, the height in meters of the Worcestershire Beacon,
And also 338, the meterage of its Herefordshire companion.
I am 680 million, the age of my oldest rocks
And also 200 million, the age of my youngest.
I am 450, the millennia since my gravels were laid,
And 17 once more, the volunteer Wardens who ward The Way.
Also, I am 10, the years since I came into existence.
I am villages and towns and a city,
Castles, a cathedral and churches.
I am apps and apparitions, cream teas and turkeys,
An obelisk and towers, steam trains and pubs.
I am cliffs and caves, cuttings and canals,
Faults and intrusions, meadows and mounds.
I am quarries and coalmines, bridges and tracks,
Escarpments and plateaus and floodplains.
I am forests and woodland, valleys and hills,
Springs and rivers and a world renowned bore.
I am cattle grids and kissing gates and lines crossing fields,
I am roads, bridleways and footpaths,
The ‘Ordnance Survey’ knows what I am.
I am Triassic and Jurassic,
I am Permian and Precambrian,
Cambrian and Carboniferous;
I am Silurian times two.
I’ve been ice and volcanoes and deserts,
I’ve been warm seas and rain forest.
I am sandstone and limestone,
Siltstone and mudstone.
I am granite and shale and sand,
Coal and gravel and quartz.
I am conglomerate and breccia.
I am these and so many others.
I am footprints and fossils.
I am bivalves and gastropods,
Brachiopods and corals,
Cephalopods and crinoids.
I am Dalmanites, the Sigel that shows you the way.
I am rocks and landscape and heritage.
I am knowledge and discovery and well-being.
Me? I am one-oh-nine miles,
What am I to you?
© David M Pamment 2019
The event at the landmark historic Market House was followed by a delightfully informative walk, led by Geopark Way Warden, Alan Hughes and enjoyed by 20 people. The walk followed part of the Geopark Way as well as looking at the building stones of Ledbury’s beautiful and fascinating buildings.
The Summer through to the beginning of Autumn saw a continued and pleasing positivity around the Geopark Way with many articles being published in traditional and online magazines, in learned journals and lifestyle magazines and bringing a new audience to become interested in and more familiar with the walking trail. This was sadly somewhat undermined around October 2019 with the downpours, floods and waterlogging which many areas suffered along the route with much lamentable damage to property and land. This continued well beyond Christmas and into 2020 when, as we are all very aware, we were hit by Covid 19 and the inevitable national lockdown in March.
The encouraging news is that, with the relaxing of rules to allow exercising further from home, most of the Geopark Way Wardens are now able to go out again whilst responsibly adhering to social distancing measures to check each of the 17 sections of the Geopark Way, in readiness for the public to re-engage with this wonderful trail which deserves to be enjoyed, now as much as ever.
Sue Knox, Geopark Way Project Officer