Tom Leworthy

The Path

footpath at Nanternis

The way before us is often familiar, sometimes grand, and sometimes uncertain or awkward. Chance and Change can alter all that, or take us down other routes. And yet we proceed, day by day, following a path to somewhere we hope will be better than, or similar to, what we have now. Some say " The journey is the thing ", others that " the destination is the reason to go forward ". Some fall, or are pushed, by the wayside, in the rush to get to where we are all going.

Myself and my partner RachaelWilmot, later joined by ten cats, lived in a remote part of Wales for 20 years, in what used to be my great grand parents', and latterly, my parents’ house. Nanternis, a mile from the coast of West Wales, U.K., is a hamlet of no great importance, although once 'The Garden of Eden', and visited by ‘The Famous’. Part of the time, for over eight years, we were without television, and so didn't get to see a chunk of history play-out in our front room.

We lived there in glorious isolation. I suppose, you don't think about it at the time, but the daily and familiar ways we take, often lead to an overall impression, or way, of life. We see moments of wonder or surprise, but without quiet contemplation they would be lost as the rest of the world intrudes. When the last of the local Welsh residents died, the village became a frontier settlement of 'second homes', deserted in the Winter, and a thriving holiday community during the short Summer months.

A path leads from our house at the bottom of the hill at Nanternis, through a small wooded valley, for about a mile, to the deserted cove of Cwm Silio. Along the way the local farmers have done their best to chop down every tree over thirty years old, and each year the brambles and bracken emerge to reclaim the rest. While it was under Welsh occupation this land was wild, and each year my Great Aunt would hack her way down to the sea, for the whole of her life, 'to keep the path open'. However, this rugged and once desolate area, has now been opened-up into an almost Cornwallian retreat by The National Trust, for visitation, and tourist views of Wales.

This path, this view, walking back home inland, sums-up the whole of the journey for me, without once considering the forty years or so I intermittently trod this route. It could be anywhere, or nowhere. It is 'the path less travelled', and goes only as far as the eye can see, and a rabbit sits in the sun.

There is something else, perhaps not entirely encapsulated within the Taoist philosophy, in the physical path we tread, and the familiarity, or otherwise, of our surroundings. The path we travel also includes the weather and light, the seasons, the sounds and smells, living things, and all our sensitive and emotional responses, and has a location in both physical space and time, and memory.

A connection is formed between us and the world, but it is something that is, if we are sensitive or quiet enough, unfolding all the time in the present moment.

To photograph that, would be a rare treat !