My walk from home to work is along the River Anker, more a trickling stream at the section I know well; I found myself walking home and wanting to trail my hands through the water, wishing it was deep enough for me to submerge myself in. Especially as it was the end of the first lockdown and the idea of cleansing in nature and being refreshed, and forgetting about Covid were all very appealing to me.
Happily, a few weeks later I discovered the local quarry Stoney Cove had changed its rules for Covid so you could swim alone, (in an online group booking) rather than the previously required “pairs”.
It was all I had dreamed of and more; spring fed, a lake surrounded by cliffs that’s feels exotic, European, mature trees all around and a few of my favourite birds, great crested grebe, grey wagtails, buzzards, rooks, coots and moorhens.
Swimming there, each portion of the lake has its own unique feel; there is the quiet fey end, lush, still and very, very, deep, the mid-section filled with swimmers and divers getting in and out, and there is the far end filled with birds, seagulls and coots and a/‘the’ resident goose fighting over whatever has caught their eye...and above a rookery; sometimes flying out in-mass across the water.
The quarry work ended in the 60’s and the spring underneath finally had free reign to fill 110ft of the quarry with ever fresh water.
What I love most is the way the light reflects on the water, different each day and the reflections changing with the seasons also.
Yet to experience is the night swims; they do these twice a month and even held a special one on the 31st October inviting everyone to swim with glo sticks.
I feel deeply healed and refreshed after my time there; the water is a blessing, a sacred gift, and I am so thankful each time I leave renewed.
Living in Hinckley, Leicestershire, it’s well known to be tricky - requiring a little effort to access nature, with few walking tracks straight from town, and industrial areas, canals and power poles around abouts. And sadly, some tracks stop and start or lead no-where, as the public rights of way have slowly been lost.
Being so close to the centre though, you do feel that, that the centre is deep and still, even with the man-made areas and traffic noise around you... you learn to be in the centre with your own centre. There is a stillness and depth here, even through the relentless traffic. I also feel very close to Draco and the pole star here.
I have walked around the geographical centre of England (near Fenny Drayton) and am looking forward to experiencing the energetic centre around High Cross soon, as well as a pilgrimage to Croft Hill which I’ve heard great things about - lots of wildlife and generally a very special place.
Here is a photo from the geographical centre near Fenny Drayton, at the edge of this field is a marker the owner/farmer erected a few years ago to commemorate the OS study that made his field the centre (of England - not U.K.)
There appear to be other ‘centres’ to explore!
The Search for the Middle of England - all part of Diagonal Walking describes a few in the Birmingham and Leamington Spa area. Maybe I shall find my way over – maybe not.
My favourite local places are where I can find myself alone and away from traffic; there is a beautiful local wood for that; and the swimming in the spring fed quarry also surprisingly supplies that. Then although not totally wild, I find my place of stillness in the fields that are next to the canal that is by my home.
To walk to the canal access, I walk from my house passed a no-mans’ land that is swampy; I love it, this swampy untouched place, it feels electric; and I think of other swamps and their deities (Swamp of Buto and Wadjyt). It is full of reeds; a huge field of them, and birds; in the winter I feel closer to it now as the green that usually shields it from view has gone.
So for me living in Hinckley; which is near to the centre; I experience the centre as a busy place; and yet have found my own grounded centre here; there is the external busyness and yet a deep drawing down of centred peace.
I have wondered if I was drawn here to release some of the past from/for my ancestors, who have lived all over this island; so to do the work I ended up doing here seemed right when I later found out I was at the centre (and therefore easily reaching out energetically to all the places my families ancestors had dwelt).
Local Contact for West Leicestershire/East Midlands