Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

There has been a paucity of women writers celebrating the Welsh landscape. For too long the narrative has been dominated by English writers - mainly men! A new book restores the balance.

article summary —

A new book published by Honno Press ("In Her Element" edited by Jane MacNamee) inspires hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner to reflect on wild Wales.

Slow, slow fell the first of the winter snow, thick mushy November flakes that within a few hours draped the whole valley. Talyllyn colliding with winter. A heavy blanket of cloud hung over Cadair. In the early afternoon, I strode off through the slush and climbed up towards the lake that nestles in a perfect round bowl beneath Cadair's great summit. Parsley fern, grey shale and lots of damp snow. I have always been entranced by the landscapes of Wales, and wrote with feeling about the country in the November 2007 issue of hidden europe. ‘The Road to Abergwesyn' is the only really autobiographical essay that we have ever published in the magazine.

Wales is something special. Early travellers from England - mostly men - braved awful roads and a paucity of accommodation to make long journeys through the Principality. From Daniel Defoe, who found the place too full of rocks and mountains, to Lord Tennyson who despaired at the great sheets of driving rain that drenched Cadair Idris.

This is just an excerpt. The full text of this article is not yet available to members with online access to hidden europe. Of course you can also read the full article in the print edition of hidden europe 23.


Nicky Gardner is editor of hidden europe and also the principal author of the magazine. Where a text is not specifically attributed to an author, it is the work of Nicky. Below, you’ll find a small selection of her articles in hidden europe magazine. Nicky also writes regularly for other media. She is co-author (with Susanne Kries) of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide, the 17th edition of which was published 2022.

Nicky Gardner was liberated from a life enslaved to performance indicators and business plans to become a travel writer. She gives thanks for that daily. Nicky writes about culture and communities, about memorable landscapes and also about journeys. Over the years she's picked up a thing or two about product life cycles, the book trade and publishing, ticketing APIs, how libraries work and the high theology of grant giving.

Nicky reads geography books, railway timetables and maps entirely for pleasure - and lots of real books too! She loves nothing more than a slow meander by public transport around some unsung part of Europe. Nicky is particularly interested in issues of identity and culture in eastern Europe and the Balkans, in linguistic minorities and in island communities. Her pet loves are public libraries, Armenian food and anything coloured purple. Nicky cannot abide suburban sprawl, supermarkets and fast trains. Nicky has since 2007 been a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. Nicky is especially keen on historical travel writing: Edith Durham, Gertrude Bell and Isabelle Eberhardt are among her favourites. Nicky can be contacted at editors [at] hiddeneurope.eu.

This article was published in hidden europe 23.