Strictly speaking, walkways are about transportation. The washing machine that needs to get to the laundery room, the guests for a dinner party, hauling soil in a wheelbarrow to a bed in the garden-all kinds of activities rely on the walkway.
This does not mean that the utilitarian route shouldn’t be scenic. This generously sized slate walk has some beautiful curves; a curved walk invites lingering and looking. The walk is plenty wide enough at the drive to swing the car doors open, and drop off multiple guests.
This is one of my favorite walkways. I managed to persuade my clients to install a wood walk; they were dubious both about its serviceability, and its longevity. However, it used to be that all roads were made out of wood; they fell for this. 4″ by 4″ pressure treated lumber, in 8′ lengths, were routed to look like bricks. The boards were laid over a 8″ deep gravel base. After 6 months exposure to the weather, I was able to stain it black. It has been in place a good many years now. The new owners of the house re-stain it every few years. The ends of the taxus hedges have fence posts of the same material, capped in rusty steel ball finials.
Not all walkways need to be a hard surface; grass makes a beautiful walk. These gravel troughs signal the change from the lawn, to a lawn walk. The length of the gravel trough gives visitors plenty of time to contemplate the massive door, and what might lie behind it.
Some walkways belong to a terrace, or a series of terraces. The identical material and pattern gives visual weight and grace to this walk between terraces. The aged cut limestone tiles, punctuated with limestone dots, is a striking way to get from here to there.
Some walkways are more about defining a view, than transportation. I can attest to the fact that having pushed a wheelbarrow along this path countless times, I would much rather look at it, than use it. The simple stepping stones describe a view without intruding on it.
Some are fortunate to own homes where the old or original materials still exist. This house built in the 1920’s was graced with with a walk of old granite setts. As they had heaved about with the frost, and were a little dicey to walk on in the winter, the entire walk was taken up and reset. This was a bit of maintenance that counted for much; this old walk softens the newness of the new landscape.
This steel and concrete walk is sharply contemporary. The softly trimmed hedges of blue arctic willow are a great contrast. There are so many good ways to get somewhere, are there not?
In my opinion, the walkway to the pearly gates looks pretty much like this.