ME and my artist mate Iain Nicholls decided to go on one of our arty/poety strolls recently; we wander round bits of the borough taking photographs and writing notes and maybe, just maybe, these images and words will become a joint piece of creative work. Or we might just get some steps in, which is good for us.

The French would call us flaneurs; people who wander aimlessly to get a better view of anywhere than you could from a bus or a car.

Walking, particularly urban and suburban walking, always gives me a sense of scale, a sense of time, and a kind of understanding of local history.

Iain and I agreed to meet at Wombwell Station and have a stroll through Wombwell Woods, a place which always feels ancient and mysterious.

I’d been shopping at Lidl in Wombwell with my wife and she drove home and I set off up Wilson Street towards the station and, to be honest, I’ve not walked that way to the station for years and if I’d not had a map on my phone I think I would have got lost in all those streets.

My Auntie Winnie and Uncle Don used to live on Wilson Street and my school mate Paul Stennett used to live on Tune Street so I’m not totally unfamiliar with that bit of Wombwell but because I’d not been round there recently I would have got a bit lost without the map.

At one point I walked across a park and got an amazing view across the valley towards Darfield and beyond. Ah, the joys of being a flaneur!

Iain and I met up at the station and began to wander up Wood Walk. Earlier, as I’d walked towards the station, I’d had a good view of the way Wood Walk sliced Wombwell Woods in two.

Once, many years ago, I had a walk around the woods with a historian and he kept pointing out things that he said were evidence of ancient settlements; now, I’m not being wilfully ignorant but they just looked like slight indentations in the ground to me.

As he enthused about them I began to imagine an ancient patina around them, but without his explanation I would have walked straight past them.

And maybe that’s the one flaw, the slight indentation if you will, in the Ian/Iain perambulations: we like to look at stuff and observe things and talk about them but to be honest we have no idea what the things we’re looking at are called, and how the other things we’re looking at relate to them.

We’ve walked around the bits of the woods to the right of Wood Walk before but we’ve never entered the bits to the left. We walk up a snicket and we’re in an area of trees that could almost be a petrified forest in a science-fiction film.

There are trees that are bent out of shape; there are fallen trees. There are trees that stick straight up like pencils and there are trees that almost look like folded spaghetti. It’s an astonishing landscape.

As you can see, I’m trying to describe the trees; Iain is photographing them and they may well see the light of day in the future as one of his paintings.

A bird sings in one of the trees, and we marvel at the beauty of it, but sadly we have no idea what kind of bird it is, or what kind of tree it’s singing from. Would it help if we knew the names? Perhaps it would.

We walk through the wood and cross a footbridge over the Dearne Valley Parkway that I’ve never walked over before.

That’s the other great thing about wandering around to no purpose in your local area: you get to see places you’ve never seen before. Iain continues to take photographs and I carry on noting things down, like the sound of the Parkway and a dumped sink, complete with taps.

Now we’re both a bit lost but that’s fine; we can see the railway line and a little fishing pond we’ve never noticed before. A woman passes, walking her dog and we ask her where the path goes.

Just carry on; she says, and you get to the road and that’s good enough for us. I eat a celebratory Potter’s pork pie and we eventually make our steady way back to the station.

Have a go at wandering aimlessly sometime; it’s good for the body and good for the mind. Take a pork pie with you, of course!