Wareham to Wimborne

For those of you who haven’t been following this story, my partner Mark is designing a 200-mile route from Portland (where the Olympics sailing events will take place) to Stratford, (and the Olympic Stadium). Our plan is to walk this route during the London 2012 Olympic Games. It’s our non-sponsored, unofficial, DIY way of celebrating what the Olympics mean to us by doing our favourite sport while the London 2012 Games are on: WALKING.

Whenever we can, we explore sections of the route, testing our stamina and tweaking the path so that at the end we will have designed a usable and enjoyable way of getting from Portland to Stratford. Last weekend Mark and I had a jolly time working out the Wareham-Wimborne leg of the route.

Mark has written about this stretch of the walk here, and of how difficult this section has been to consolidate. I agree with what he’s written – it’s really a section where one has to focus on details, because compared to the stunning views from the South West Coast path, or the horsey magic of the New Forest, Wareham to Wimborne is far less obviously spectacular and affords few stunning vistas. Nevertheless I have a certain fondness for this section of the walk, precisely because it is so ordinary. The terrain is mostly flat, and although there are some nice wooded sections in Wareham, much of the journey involves tramping through working agricultural land. Rape, barley and beets (for livestock) in tractor-dug, orderly lines are mostly what you get to see and – unlike the more scenic sections of the walk – the company one finds in these parts is mostly that of the birds who proliferate in the hedgerows dividing the crop fields. In fact this bit of the walk reminds me of a Mural by Andrew Davidson that hangs on the wall at MERL, and which compares the countryside of the 1850s and the 1950s within a single landscape. Traces of the old ways of doing things can be seen between Wareham and Wimborne in the occasional thatch, millstone and rusted plough, but most of the route is more like the section on the left of Davidson’s mural; mechanised, with large fields, and outbuildings topped with corrugated iron roofing. The contrast on the walk feels similar to in this painting; you have the arcane JOY of White Mill with its oaken beams, hessian flour sacks and creaky floorboards…

White Mill – the principal point of interest along The Games Way as fas as I’m concerned

…and then fields being managed in the contemporary, monoculture style of industrial farming methods today.

Mark in the Monoculture of Barley last year

Here is the illustration by artist Andrew Davidson (MERL 2006/65), as commissioned for a mural that features in the displays of the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading (image © Andrew Davidson)

Andrew Davidson brings the distant and recent past of agriculture in the UK together

I feel that the stretch between Wareham and Wimborne will be the part of Walk 2012 when I will feel furthest from the crowds of the Stratford Stadium; the inevitable Olympics traffic jams and public transport nightmares; the jammed pub lounges with their television-sets turned to “SPORT” and the constantly-on, constantly competing noise and hype of the actual Olympic Games. Instead I will be photographing butterflies, wading through shoulder-height crops, and looking out for ants, moles and – my favourite detail of this section – BRICKS.

I always love how differently Mark and I remember and record our walks together. I am working at the moment on an episode of framework:afield which explores how we record, document and edit our experiences (in terms of sound) and I keep returning to the idea that the first stage in editing is one’s personal imagination – the things one chooses to notice or single out. I reckon this is the first stage of editing, which takes place even before one has written a word, taken a photograph, or recorded a sound. As a test of this theory, I decided to compare the photos I took last time we did this section of the walk to the ones I took this time, to see if I’d focussed on the same things.

Photographs taken between Wareham – Wimborne 2011:


White Mill

MOLE! Sorry for the blurriness, but he was very fast once he realised his presence had been detected

Bricks inside White Mill

LOVE bricks

Photos taken between Wareham – Wimborne 2012


White Mill


Bricks at Sturminster Marshall

B-Bricks in Wareham

So I think we can agree I have some natural tendencies, and my first edit of any experience will likely involve documentation of THE BRICKS and THE ANIMALS that I saw there. However this time, I decided to bring in one additional idea or EDIT on my record of the walk, as I have been really enjoying Tom’s visible mending programme. So here is Wareham – Wimborne in BRICKS, with some visible mending thrown in for good measure. (You might be surprised by how often bricks feature in visible mends in the landscape…)

Bricks on the way out of Wareham

Brick bridge on the outskirts of Wareham

Baggs Mill millstone, Wareham

Visible Mend #1 – duct tape gate fix

Visible Mend #2 – Corrugated Iron outbuilding patches

Visible Mend #3 – Brick Bridge path-mend in Wareham Forest

Visible Mend #3 detail – London Bricks

Mended Wall in Sturminster Marshall (doesn’t this remind you of Andrew Davidson’s Mural at the top of this post?)

Painted Bricks, Vine Inn, Pamphill

…Mark’s definitely right. This section of Walk 2012 requires you to focus on the little things, but I love what happens when we do this.

9 Responses to Wareham to Wimborne

  1. tomofholland says:

    What a delicious collection of Visible Mends! I have spotted a brink mend in the wall adjacent to Brighton Station, which shall feature in a future post about Visible Mending in My Surroundings.

    My favourite of this collection must be Visible Mend #3 โ€“ Brick Bridge path-mend in Wareham Forest. Not least of all because I suspect many people would not immediately recognise this as a mend.

  2. Joanna says:

    Funnily enough I was just thinking the other day that I hadn’t seen any bricks on your blog for a while! Lovely post – thank you.

  3. Tess says:

    A lovely post that brings back lots of memories. My Grandmother and mum ( and aunts and uncles) grew up in Shapwick, just up the road from White Mill and my aunt still lives there. Gran was in service at Kingston Lacy House and my parents met at a dance in Pamphill.

    When I was a child my cousin, her husband and children lived in White Mill. I remember the living area as tiny and damp. It was tied to my cousin’s husband’s work as a farm labourer. When the farmer died the farm passed to the National Trust and my cousin’s husband lost his job and the family were evicted from the Mill. The conservation undertaken since is quite remarkable and the place hardly recognisable from that which I visited as a child.

  4. Mark stanley says:

    Hmm bricks. Other views are also available along this walk! I love the difference in what you and I see and enjoy on the same journey. And I am very happy to play I spy visible mending, it’s a brilliant game xxx

  5. Allison says:

    Thank you for all the pictures of bricks! I too am a fan of architectural details ๐Ÿ™‚ Best of luck finishing planning the route!

  6. Annie says:

    I have books about nothing but bricks, and if I’m in the vicinity of bricks I always have to photograph them. No idea what that says about me. I shall of course now start looking for bricky invisible mends to photograph too. Great post ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. colleen says:

    All for the bricks! I like that a London Brick announces itself so boldy in the mud, especially as it’s not really a Londoner at all. I think though that the Sturminster Marshall mended wall my just take the biscuit.

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