Walking by water

Bridge 22, where a lane leads off to my studio in Perserverance Mill

Walking by water improves your mood whatever the circumstances. A scenic 30 minute walk along a towpath takes me to my studio. The way mostly passes along a narrow strip of land perched between the Rochdale canal and the Calder river.

Sometimes when setting off walking I worry about all the things I need to get done that day but soon the cares fall away as the abundance and variety of diverting sights take me out of myself completely and leave a feeling of intense refreshment.

Negative space. A tunnel makes a huge punctuation mark.

Bridges and tunnels play games with reflections, making black holes of shadow and haloes of light. When confronted with the dark void of a tunnel, I can't help thinking about the idea of portals to other worlds and the mythologies of bridges and crossroads found in cultures all round the planet.

Manmade structures interlace the natural forms and the unfolding year brings a parade of photogenic 'weeds', wildflowers and garden escapees.

Cowslips are a particularly welcome sight with their cheerful soft yellow blooms after the harshness of winter.

At Charlestown the garden plants have colonised the canal bank. In spring and summer each month weaves a new pattern as different perennials come into flower.

Alchemilla leaves transform dew into diamonds, and blackberry leaves take on tigerish stripes as summer comes to an end.

Where the canal and the river Calder run side by side there's often exciting contrast, the canal surface still and unruffled, the river water noisy and turbulent. When hurrying home along the elevated narrow path between these different forms of water, it can be disorientating but in a good way; the mild dizziness and the need to concentrate makes you feel alive.