Our Walking Book Club celebrates its 10th Birthday!
Picnic at Hanging Rock - The very first outing for our Walking Book Club...
This post was originally published on 30th April 2013...
It seemed a long time anticipating our first walking book club, planning began back in February when it was cold and dark, and winter has held on for such a long, long time, but those that joined us on Saturday were rewarded with sunshine and budding leaves - it was also warm enough to sit comfortably at 'the witches hut' to chat about books.
We gathered outside the shop, said our hellos, and then headed towards Burridge Woods. The first climb is short but quite steep, so we had agreed that any discussion would begin once the path levelled out so as not to get too breathless! However, trying not to talk about the mysteries within Picnic at Hanging Rock seemed impossible as we all wanted to share our different conclusions and hunches about the story.
The walking party then had a choice, carry along the riverside or head up to the den via Middle Path - curious they chose to visit the den. As we approached the encampment, which is also a site of an ancient hill fort, some bones that had been added to the structure caught our eye. My initial response was that they looked like the remains of some great fish but on closer inspection they were of course the spine and hip joint of a deer.
The den was met with sounds of approval, I don't think anyone in the party expected quite such a magnificent build; one walker hopes to return with picnics and grandchildren in tow.
We sat at the entrance in the sunshine, and this provided the perfect opportunity for the whole group to relax, have a snack and of course discuss the book. Some felt disappointed that it didn't 'end', that the mystery wasn't wrapped up neatly, others felt that this was the strength of the tale. We all agreed that the author had captured the hot, thick, Australian summer landscape. In my mind it was this heady mixture of heat, young girls 'coming of age' and the Aboriginal spirit, the magic of time and place that drew the girls from the track - for surely folk tales and fairy tales have always warned us not to stray from the path.
I had not realised but there is an alternative ending to Picnic at Hanging Rock, it was not published until 1987, three years after Joan Lindsay's death and may provide the 'solution' that some readers may crave. Although a quick online search revealed that copies seem quite elusive and expensive!
It was time to head back, I led the group through a little walked track at 'the top' and then back onto a main path. It was before joining this main track that treasure was found - for at my feet lay a shed antler from a roe deer. I have longed to find an antler on my walks here on Exmoor and today was to be the day, I see it as a positive blessing for our Walking Book Club.
April 2023 - Seven Fables would like to thank everyone who has entered into the spirit of the Walking Book Club, and joined us over the years, particularly those who regularly walked with us from the very beginning, for without your commitment and love of books, it would not have grown into what it is today - thank you xxxxxxx
We have some wonderful titles selected for this year's programme, alongside author visits, so do visit the dedicated page on our website if you wish to join us.
Our format has changed but our love of reading and walking has certainly not diminished!