A Treasure Hunt for Poetry

Last weekend saw me and MaryClare from Gloucestershire Wheels for All cycle a treasure hunt around a small area of Gloucester. Starting at Gloucester Athletics Track, we toured some of the local parks, me on a recumbent trike (peddling with my legs out in front of me) and MaryClare on a hand cycle (a trike you propel with your arms).

What were we hunting for? Poetry!

Between August 24th and November 1st, Gloucester is showcasing excerpts from poems written by 31 people around the county over the past few months. In one huge open-air exhibition these extracts are painted on grass, tarmac and buildings, and some can be found as large upright white letters, forming a sculpture trail for you to discover! Some are in local parks, others are in public places around the town, and all can be found on foot or on wheels.

Last weekend’s cycle took us around 6 of the 31 locations, so there was still plenty to explore on our next ride! Our route took us mainly along pavements, cycle/foot paths and through parks. In some of the quieter areas we had to cycle on the road to pass parked cars, so it is worth thinking ahead about your route if you need to make sure it is suitable for you. We also had to negotiate bollards at entrances to parks and paths, which had tight corners to get round. 

I’m always up for any reason to be out on my bike, and exploring somewhere new is a bonus, so as I am from Cheltenham this trail was a fun way to explore somewhere less familiar to me. Part of the fun for me was also planning the route beforehand, which I did using Google Maps and looking at the map of all the locations for the exhibition, which can be found on their website here.

There are plenty of locations in and around the town centre that are more accessible, as we found on our second ‘poetry cycle’ yesterday afternoon. You can find snippets from poems in places like Gloucester Cathedral, the Guildhall, Greyfriars, Gloucestershire Park and The Docks. If you’re looking for a flatter route with wider paths and walkways, the city centre offers plenty of opportunity to hunt down some poems!

(Image description: Jennie and MaryClare on their bikes in a park, words painted on building wall behind them reads 'It's always better to look where there's light')

If you want to go exploring and map out your own treasure hunt you can plan your route like I did, or you can follow one of the walking or cycling routes available on the Of Earth and Sky website here. Or maybe you just want to see how many you discover on your travels around Gloucester? However you decide to do it, discovering the poems is lots of fun and a great way to enjoy the outdoors this autumn.

Find out more on their You’re Welcome listing here.

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replied 1 month ago

I cannot recommend this open air exhibition "Of Earth and Sky" highly enough - it is such a fantastic way to find out more about the city of Gloucester and its surroundings. Like Jennie I now live in Cheltenham, but I did live in Hucclecote from the ages of 2 to 13 and went to St Michael's School* on Denmark Road, I worked as a physio at Gloucester Royal, Coney Hill* and Over* Hospitals for two years (*none of these places exist now which shows how old I am!) and yet there have been several places on this sculpture and poetry trail that I have never visited before. The two 'Jennie' cycle trails we have done so far have been a wonderful opportunity to marvel at all the amazing green spaces and quiet oases that we have in Gloucester in the most unexpected places. There are so many hidden gems and wonderful thought-provoking words and phrases in this free outdoor exhibition and only three weeks left in which to find them! The physical and mental health benefits are an added bonus because the searching and finding completely take over so that you don't realise how far you have travelled ….and the distance when revealed is quite a surprise! Go and see for yourselves :)