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  • Lynnda Wardle

bench // marks

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

In February 2021, locked-down and frustrated, I undertook a daily walk to photograph and write about one fixed place, a bench facing onto the Campsie Fells.

Each cold day, I tramped away from the house with the new pup and recorded 28 short 'noticings' to document the bench, the landscape, my emotions. These became a poem sequence called bench II marks.

As a final gesture, I shared the poem by leaving it (anonymously!) in a biscuit tin on the bench, with instructions inviting local walkers to take the bench//mark poems away and to respond with their own writing if they chose to. I included sweeties (as an incentive to linger), coloured pens, and hand sanitiser. The responses were heart-warming and affirming – so many walkers like me, felt connected to the landscape in different ways and were happy to share this. Many also found that taking the time to sit, reflect and write a response connected them to others, and to the local history of the area. During a lonely, isolating time, this piece of art acted as a fun way to connect some members of the local community.

This act of walking and noticing has become my daily practice: a way to ground myself and stay connected, to reflect and meditate during what has been an extraordinarily difficult year.

This project will be included in the the University of Glasgow's WalkCreate gallery

Some extracts of the work follow:

Day 1

blue sky icy wind

pup refuses the river

so we tramp the track

where the bench is planted

solid slats

against a saltire sky

a beginning

day 3

rusty call of a great tit

squeaks through drizzle

Ben Lomond wears a jaunty snow cap

pup pees on his favourite tussock

I wonder at a broken gate

flat on its back

day 8

I am relieved to escape the heat in the house

walk into pale sun and open sky

a gift after days of gloom locked down

locked in locked up

then the sky stoops and spills

a burden of snow

pup confused as the sky sheds itself

across the valley

I stumble blinded

past Bench

drenched, stamp my boots

back in the hot kitchen

day 12

today I am a reluctant walker

wind crying around the house

so much going on inside

but pup drives us out

cloud-mottled sky

mirrored by ground snow

an upside-down world

ice globules hang

from river rocks

pup’s fur camouflaged against

brown-black land

then emerges through white

he reappears like a mirage

or a miracle

day 20

crunch of gravel underfoot

holds me in my skin

Bench watches the horizon

wheel with stars

relationships unwind and respool

fallen moss-limed birch

pocked by starry vermilion mushroom cups

small flying saucers from

a colourful planet


day 26

why am I never tempted to sit down?

day 27

after the walk

I drop clothes off for you at the hospital

a nurse collects the bag from me at the entrance

no visitors

until this is all over

then we’ll see

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