Tales of long walks

On Monday Andrew Stuck, Museum founder and Producer of Talking Walking, went to a talk by Satish Kumar at Alternatives, in Piccadilly, London. Now in his 80s, smiling and looking as young as ever, he spoke eloquently, about  how peace is a way of life not just an opposite of war. Explaining that he was inspired by Bertrand Russell, and the stop nuclear weapons campaigns, to undertake an 8000 mile walk from his home in India to visit the capital city of each the nuclear powers: London, Paris, Moscow and Washington – the latter walking the decks of the Queen Mary.  All done as an ‘Earth Pilgrim’ without money and relying on the trust and generosity of strangers.

One could say that walking has probably defined his life and he has certainly inspired many other people to walk in protest or in supporting various campaigns. He wrote a book about walking through Britain called “No Destination“, and in which he talks about how he came to set up the Schumacher College. It was that book that inspired Talking Walking interviewee Tim Hagyard  to undertake his own personal walk through ‘Sacred Britain’ . Tim accompanied me to the talk on Monday. He in turn has recently come back from a very long walk in supporting the Amos Trust and their work in Palestine. The walk has been written up by Justin Butcher, in a book called ‘Walking to Jerusalem‘ which is to be published at the end of the week. Tim very graciously introduced Andrew to Justin who Andrew will be interviewing for Talking Walking in mid December. Listen to Tim Hagyard on Talking Walking

Another writer whom Andrew interviewed for Talking Walking who undertook a very long walk is Nick Hunt who followed in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor on a walk from Britain to Istanbul. Synchronicity strikes once again as this week Nick will be in London for the launch of a new addition of Dark Mountain, an ecological journal for which he is one of the editors and for which he is running a new series of essays described as ‘Under the Canopy‘. Listen to Nick Hunt on Talking Walking

If walking to four capital cities or journeys on foot across Europe aren’t tough enough, perhaps the thought of walking to the one of the North Poles might get you out of your slumber? That was the proposition offered to Lisa Pook and so she began intensive training and fundraising for a walking and cross country skiing expedition to what is called the ‘Northern Pole of Inaccessibility‘ This is the point on the Earth surface that is the furthest from any land mass – some 800 miles. The plan was to undertake this in four 200 mile legs, in which participants would drag a sled of rations and equipment equivalent in weight to  their own body weight. So when Andrew caught up with Lisa and interviewed her for Talking Walking she was training by dragging heavy car tyres on runs across and around the Rotherhithe peninsula in London. She also put herself through cold water immersion and various training exercises north of the Arctic Circle. The vagaries of the weather and the melting of the ice meant that there was no certainty about whether the expedition could take place, let alone be successful, and as it was the Northern Pole has so far proven to be inaccessible for Lisa. Listen to her on Talking Walking

If you would like to discover things closer to home but realise there is no walking guide, you may feel it’s part duty and part challenge to write one of your own.  So it was for Julia Killingback, who when returning to live in Bristol after studying art there, chose to create her own illustrated walking guides to the city.  After the financial failure of a local publisher, Julia took on the task of not only writing and illustrating four guides but also the publishing of them.  In all it took her eight years and yet her enthusiasm for writing  and researching the guides and passion for her local neighbourhoods oozes from the Talking Walking interview that Andrew recorded with her.  Listen to Julia Killingback on Talking Walking

In the last week, Andrew has also listened to two walking artists who have created audio walks in which their intention is to offer their listeners the opportunities to escape to other places, however, their approaches were very different.  Charlotte Spencer Projects created “Walking Stories” a group audio adventure, in which participants, although strangers, were invited to create a community and choose their path. Listen to Charlotte Spencer Projects. Jennie Savage created “FractureMob“, for which participants all over the world could download an audio album of recordings she had made in different cities, through which they followed instructions to get lost. Listen to Jennie Savage on Talking Walking

With Bill Aitchison as your tour guide, it is very likely you will uncover more to the city than you would ever discover if you had taken a dozen tours.  He has created a performance called “Tour of all Tours” that casts a critical eye to mass tourism and our consumption of the cities we visit.  Now working in China, Bill is prolific: he is performing, directing and writing works, many of which take place in public space, beneath eyes of the ever-present authorities.  He believes such a constraint offers greater artistic freedoms than he can find in the West.  Listen to Bill Aitchison on Talking Walking

All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..