Monday, 29 June 2020
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Of the many I recall, the most spectacular by far is the Tongariro Crossing in North Island, New Zealand. It is an unforgettable 8-hour hike over the volcanic heart of the island.
Deposited by minibus early in the morning, you ascend up the steep western flank of the National Park to the plateau below Mount Ngauruhoe - everyone's image of what a volcano should be. Some of the keenest - or most foolhardy - give in to the temptation to divert from the Crossing to scramble up to the top of its cone. I was no so tempted, but preferred to stay below with my camera.
Then you then you turn towards Mount Tongariro and ascend to follow round the narrow edge of the Red Crater - seen here, top right - before descending a narrow ridge towards the Emerald Lakes. The ground beneath your feet is hot. Steam hisses from the rocks. You do not even think of trying to leave the path. You sense you are on holy ground, or utterly threatening and unstable ground, whichever way you choose to see it.
People descending the ridge on the right become no more than a column of ants.
On the way down, you just have to keep turning to look back.
Anyone keen on hiking – and reasonably fit – should try this walk at least once in their life; I am unlikely ever to do it again, but it is a hike I shall never forget.
Thursday, 4 June 2020
Thursday, 28 May 2020
Monday, 25 May 2020
Appropriately, during lockdown, I'm working on a book that has been planned for many years. Entitled Home: a philosophy of personal space, it explores the way in which a sense of home impacts on how we understand ourselves and how we change as we move through life.
My present draft has reached the opening of chapter 4 this morning. Having explored the threat posed by the dimensions of the universe revealed by modern cosmology, and the process of mapping, by which we locate ourselves in our world. It then looks at what homes do in terms of our vision of ourselves...
Thursday, 21 May 2020
On a warm, sunny afternoon like this, I'd love to be walking in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, deep in the Bernese Oberland. This part of the Swiss alps is just so photogenic. You hike up the valley with the bulk of the Eiger and Jungfrau on your left and the village of Murren, perched above sheer cliffs, on your right, the silence broken only by the background sound of waterfalls plunging down on either side.
My favourite view of the valley is from the pastures below the village of Wengen, a brisk walk up from the little town of Lauterbrunnen.