My podcast Inside A Mountain takes its name from nature writer Nan Shepherd’s haunting phrase that ‘a mountain has an inside’. In other words, walking isn’t to accumulate miles or conquer peaks, but to experience the transformative power of moving through real and imaginary space. Using soundscape and music, I take contemplative walks with musicians, artists, writers and scientists. Inside A Mountain has just been shortlisted for the International Women’s Podcast Awards.
series two: episode three:
How to read a life: robert douglas-fairhurst and his memoir metamorphosis: a life in pieces
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is professor of English at Magdalen College, Oxford. In 2017 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and recently underwent pioneering stem cell surgery in an attempt to halt the disease’s progress. Robert’s new memoir, Metamorphosis: A Life in Pieces, is his radical attempt to re-assemble the new fragments of his life into a shape that’s both funny and profound, hopeful yet forthright. In this episode Charlie and Robert take a very short walk – as far as Robert felt able – to talk about literature and the ways we can use books to read – and re-read – a life.
SERIES TWO: Episode Two:
Night walking with anthologist Duncan Minshull
The writer Duncan Minshull has compiled five anthologies about walking, the latest being Where My Feet Fall. In this episode, Duncan and Charlie explore the streets of London at night to see what effect the darkness has on the way they think. There’s a long tradition of writers and artists walking at night: Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Thomas de Quincey. What was it about the gloom they craved?
SERIES TWO: Episode One:
Telling stories with the Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan
The poet Ian McMillan goes for a walk every morning at 5.20am around the village in South Yorkshire where he’s lived his entire life. He tries to observe five new things and then goes back home to write about them, with a comic eye and a cup of tea. His close-looking manages to be both acute, wise and hilarious. In the first episode of series 2, Ian and Charlie talk about his walks, his poetry, his latest book My Sand Life: My Pebble Life: a memoir of childhood and the sea – and chutney. And we have a brush with a tree…
SERIES ONE: Episode Six:
Going underground: seeking London’s lost rivers with Tom Chivers, author of London Clay
The writer Tom Chivers has written a powerful, mesmerising book, London Clay, in which he seeks the lost rivers which lie below ground. Part geographical, part historical and part poetical, this is a book which makes us see the geology of London with completely different eyes. Tom and Charlie descend 7 metres underground to find a Roman temple and go mudlarking for treasure.
Tom Chivers mudlarking for treasure. The ancient Roman Temple of Mithras, 7 metres underground
SERIES ONE: Episode Five:
Strange loops and walking as thinking, with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy
Marcus du Sautoy, Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, has the kind of imagination which draws on complex mathematics, music, science and literature simultaneously. On this walk through a North London park, Marcus and Charlie cover both literal and imaginative ground – and one of them gets lost in the marshes.
Marcus finding his “tree of the day” and, later, working out a mathematical problem on one of his beloved yellow pads
SERIES ONE: Episode Four:
Walking the Jurassic coastline with international cellist Natalie Clein
The acclaimed cellist Natalie Clein talks about her music and explains what creativity means to her. Returning to her childhood home on the Dorset coast, she walks with Charlie and they find a tent of trees in the woods.
Bloch, Ligeti & Dallapiccola: Suites for Solo Cello, Hyperion Records
Cello: Natalie Clein
Rebecca Clarke: Viola Sonata, Hyperion Records
Cello: Natalie Clein Piano: Christian Ihle Hadland
SERIES ONE: Episode Three:
Tracing the footsteps of Ivor Gurney with Kate Kennedy
The third episode is set in the meadows of Gloucestershire. Kate Kennedy, author of a superb new book about the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, talks about his life as we explore the landscape around the village of Framilode.
SERIES ONE: Episode Two:
Walking the South Devon coastline with artist Anna Koska
For this second episode, I take a walk along the South Devon coastline with botanical artist and illustrator Anna Koska. Anna grows and forages for much of her family’s food and she paints most of what she grows. She’s illustrated more than 100 books and has been commissioned by chefs to create large-scale paintings for their restaurants.
SERIES ONE: Episode One:
Landscape of the Imagination: Sally Bayley
For this first episode, the writer Sally Bayley and I return to the seaside town of her childhood. Her household of 12 children and 3 adults was deprived and chaotic. But with her love of literature and the power of her imagination, she walked her way into a new life.