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Edging the City

Peter Finch
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Peter Finch is perhaps the foremost chronicler of Cardiff, past and present. His response to the 2020 lockdown restrictions confining people to their local authority area was to begin walking the boundary of his. This was in a mirror of his long walk along the south Wales coast recorded in Edging the Estuary.

The Cardiff border rarely appears on maps. The city no longer has walls (like York or Chester), or a modern transport périphérique like London’s M25. Instead its dotted line boundary travels across fields, along motorways, up rivers, through forests, over rail tracks and along miles of intertidal mudflats following the edge of the Severn. The border itself  is made up of waymarked trails, city streets, highway liminal zones, woodlands. Mud-soaked tracks up hillsides, bridges, diversions, disentanglements and discoveries all play a part in this informative text created for walkers and armchair travellers alike.

Edging the City explores (often literally) why and where borders exist, their purposes, their love of water courses. It discusses other cities with walkable borders including York, Chester, London, Paris, Bruges and Seoul. It considers legal and geopolitical reasons for borders (the battles over placement of ‘Welcome’ signs, for instance), how they change and what happens when politics crosses boundaries. Cardiff’s medieval and other boundaries are tracked. The border is walked, run and sailed. Finch talks to ultra runners who have traversed the 50 plus mile route in a single day.  He provides textual diversions on border history, north Cardiff trees, words for mounds, the mountains of Cardiff, the city’s coalmines, its triads, historical figures, battles, hill forts, poets, politicians, housing developments and other divertissements. There’s a city’s edge playlist which filled the author’s head as he strode available on SpotifyEdging the City is a view of Cardiff like no other, full of insights and discoveries.

Listen to the Edging the City playlist on Spotify. 

Follow Peter’s route here Plot a Route plotaroute.com/route/1864006.

Find a slide show of the entire walk on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/peterfinch.

Finch's companion volume Edging the Estuary, in which he walks the banks of the Severn estuary, is available here.


Review in Nation.Cymru

Sunday, October 16, 2022

“What Edging the City does so effectively, though, is defamiliarize and enrich these landscapes, with allusion, digression and depth, all painted in seemingly effortless poetic prose. Finch lifts the apparently mundane to a place of real literary significance, giving some of these lesser-known quarters the attention they deserve.” – Tim Cooke

Read the full review here.

Review by Chris Andrews, Buzz Magazine

Thursday, September 1, 2022

EDGING THE CITY offers captivating insights into Cardiff’s underexplored border.

When the UK found itself under strict lockdown constraints in 2020, author Peter Finch, inspired by Iain Sinclair’s London Orbital, took the opportunity to exploit the border restrictions in place to the maximum and walk the boundary of Cardiff in its 54 square-mile entirety. The result is Edging The City, a captivating insight into places and stories around Cardiff’s edge.

Finch’s writing is as jovial as it is fascinating. He begins his journey down Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, taking in Ely, St Fagans, Castell Coch and lots of other places in between, before heading down towards St Mellons, back through Tremorfa and finishing up back at Cardiff Bay. He has an interesting anecdote, historical fact or comment for every part of the city; the Cardiff border scarcely appears on maps, so tracing its whys and whereabouts proves to be very insightful.

Walkers can even trace Finch’s steps, if they are so inclined, as the areas are all broken up into smaller walks, with beautifully detailed maps to help. (Additionally, he’s included the musical playlists that inspired him along the way, giving the whole thing a very interactive feel.) In a similar way to some of Bill Bryson’s work, Peter Finch’s love for his home city is evident in every sentence; Edging The City is engaging in every sense of the word.

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