Friday, 23 April 2021

Slow Ways - explore the UK landscape

Just over a year ago, I was part of a team which met in person or virtually to begin the process of creating the Slow Ways network, initiated by Dan Raven Ellison. As we approached lockdown, the idea of walking for exercise and exploring our local areas became increasingly attractive.

I worked on creating some walks in familiar locations: close to home, along the Norfolk coast and in and around Ely where I work.

Slow Ways is an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages. The beta website is now live. Take a look.

Using existing paths, ways, trails and roads, people can use Slow Ways routes to walk or wheel between neighbouring settlements, and combine them to create longer distance trips. It’s designed to make it easier for people to imagine, plan and go on walking journeys.

There are currently over 7,000 Slow Ways stretching for over 100,000km. This network of routes was created by 700 volunteers during the Spring 2020 lockdown, creating a unique Slow Ways map in the process.

The next challenge in 2021 is to walk, review and verify them all - checking 100,000km of Slow Ways in the process.

Slow Ways aims to inspire and support more people to walk more often, further and for more purposes.

While there are thousands of miles of paths linking places across Great Britain, there isn't a comprehensive and trusted network designed to help people walk off-road between towns and cities. That’s what the Slow Ways initiative, with its distinctive geometric connections, is creating.

Monday, 12 April 2021


"Veer off the track

Take the path

That leads beyond the map

I'm a travelling man

Each day I walk the byways of this life..."

A track by the band 'Big Big Train'.
And there they are playing their instruments for real in an excellent live performance. I miss that feeling when the bass pedals can be felt in your stomach at a gig...

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

UK National Parks in 100 Seconds


The new film from Daniel Raven Ellison, with voice over from Cerys Matthews. Premiere was last night, followed by a panel discussion on the future of the UK's National Parks.

Watch the film below:

UK National Parks in 100 Seconds - Preview from Dan Raven-Ellison on Vimeo.

"What do the UK's National Parks really look like? To see what these landscapes are made-up of, let's go on a walk. Each second of the walk reveals 1% of our National Parks and how they appear from above. Are you ready for the UK's National Parks in 100 seconds"

Filmed from above and spoken by Cerys Matthews, this short film will likely change how you think about our National Parks forever.

What could we do to make the most of our National Parks? What do you think?


Friday, 29 January 2021

Worzel goes down to the sea...

And it was Cuckmere of course... another fantastic episode of Mackenzie Crook's interpretation of Barbara Euphan Todd's scarecrow was shown over the Christmas period.

A lovely road trip episode heading for the sea with Saucy Nancy and some great characters as always. Plenty of links to an imagined better England, and some suitable music from the Unthanks on a pub terrace by the beach.

Another highlight, with a coastal flavour was the Christmas edition of 'Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing' which saw the two friends staying in a pair of Fisherman's Cottages in Staithes. I've stayed in the village a few times and had a wonderful White Christmas there some years back.

15% sale on the Toolkit Books

At the moment, there is a 15% sale on a wide range of GA publications. 

This includes all the KS3 toolkit books, so you can pick up a copy of 'Look at it this Way' much cheaper than it is available elsewhere, such as Amazon, and revisit some of the earlier posts on this blog for extra thoughts on how to use the activities. Some of them will seem familiar to you, but when first published, these were brand new.

The Slabs - new from Danny MacAskill


We love Danny MacAskill videos at King's Ely Junior: to help introduce students to landscapes and ways of 'seeing' them in different ways. The mountains of Skye are volcanic in origin, and have been shaped by millennia of weathering... We can explain their formation and their slow breakdown, but Danny sees the chance to ride his bike in skilful and exciting ways.

His latest film 'The Slabs' is set on the Dubh slabs above Lock Coruisk, which also featured in his last film 'The Ridge'. He descends the slabs. I've climbed them the other way, and I didn't take my bike.

Thanks to Matt Podbury for spotting the new film and letting me know about it.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

RIP Barry Holstun Lopez


"Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion."

Barry Lopez

I heard yesterday evening via Robert MacFarlane that the author Barry Lopez had died on Christmas Day at his house in Oregon: somewhere he and his wife were renting after the house he had lived in for decades had been affected by wildfires earlier in the year, which had also tragically destroyed a building containing an archive of his writing and documents.

I have blogged about Barry's writing numerous times here, and on my other blogs.

I bought his 'Arctic Dreams' book back in early 1987, from the Blackwells bookshop at Hull University while I was completing my PGCE. 

I've read it numerous times since, and also mined it for quotes and thoughts on the importance of story telling, as I did with his other books. His last published work was the masterful 'Horizon', which looked back over his life, and his travels against the backdrop of impending climate chaos.

From a review of the book:

“It treats the distant snowy world of the Arctic as a place that exists not only in the mathematics of geography, but also in the terra incognita of our imaginations.” 
Michiko Kakutani

An appreciation was printed in the New York Times today.

"If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive."