A Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

After what felt like an endless winter, spring has finally descended upon the North East of England. A few days ago, a photographer friend and I met in Newcastle and headed northwards up the A1 to a small rural village called Lesbury. We were picking up on a project that began last year but was repeatedly hindered by wave after wave of inclement weather. After a spot of lunch at The Coach Inn, we began our walk northwards following the course of the River Aln, a salmon river that rises in the Cheviot Hills and meanders its way to the North Sea over the soft sands of Alnmouth. The walk began by crossing Lesbury Mill Bridge, a fifteenth century construction now listed as an Ancient Monument. We paused to examine the fingers of lichen and pillows of viridescent moss that cling faithfully to its parapets. The river bowed eastwards, leading us to a place where two runaway haybales had tumbled down its banks and had been left unretrieved for ivy to tangle across them. Yellow primroses pushed through the recently frost-tightened earth and carpets of wild garlic tanged the cool spring air. A farmer’s field combed neatly in anticipation of its new crop, draped the hillside. The soft lines of the rich, crumbling brown earth led the eye to the horizon, and their intersection with the rigid geometry of Lesbury Railway Viaduct. In use from 1847, the viaduct carries the East Coast Mainline that runs between London and Edinburgh. As weather rolled in from the north, we sheltered beneath one of its eighteen stone arches, listening to the trains thundering overhead.

It was a relief to be outdoors again, to feel that change in the weather that anticipates long strolls unhindered by coldness, darkness, torrential rain or wind. I began to think about publishing StepAway Magazine later that week, and the differences between urban and rural walking. StepAway has been dedicated to the city walker for seven years, and I feel that it is about time that we consider publishing a special issue about walking in the countryside. After all, to step outside the city may be a way of understanding it better. I am keen to gain the feedback of readers and past contributors regarding this idea, so please do email me your thoughts.

With thoughts returning to the city, and our current issue, I am delighted to publish ten new urban walking poems by a new set of thoroughly talented writers: Byron Beynon, Wendy Bourke, Miki Byrne, Marc Carver, Berni Dwan, Jayant Kashyap, Alex MacConochie, Ilona Martonfi, Jake Sheff and Annette Skade.

Our cover photography comes courtesy of the Italian street photographer, Luca Gennatiempo. I first discovered Luca’s brilliant take on street documentary after seeing his postings in the Urban Street Photography Forum. Further examples of his work can be found here and here. I particularly like the way in which the cover photograph is a visual mirror of at least two of the poems included in this issue. I’d be most grateful if you could support Luca by sharing his entry for the lensculture Street Photography Awards on Facebook.

I’d like to offer a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this, our twenty-seventh StepAway. Enjoy the spring issue!

Yours faithfully,

Darren Richard Carlaw