Category Archives: Adventurer

Interviews with adventurers

Justin Butcher talking walking

Walking for 5 months and covering 2,000 miles across Europe from London to Jerusalem, the Just Walk marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in which the British Government announced their support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. In this episode Andrew Stuck catches up with Justin Butcher, who conceived and led it, who describes the Just Walk as a ‘pilgrimage of penance’ and a ‘march of solidarity’. Crossing the Alps by the St Bernard Pass to north western Italy was rivaled in its beauty by the Albanian countryside. Accompanied by groups of walkers of different faiths and nationalities, a core group walked the whole distance, meeting refugees making journeys in the opposite direction, and being welcomed as celebrities by Palestinians. It is an extraordinary undertaking, chronicled by Justin in his best selling book entitled “Walking to Jerusalem”. The interview took place on a cold winter morning on the Parkland Trail, from Finsbury Park to Highgate Woods in London. 22’38” 10.6MB Feature image credit: Eleanor Butcher

Photo credit: Mark Kensett

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Image credit: © Jeremy Sancha

In 2020-21 Justin Butcher will be touring his critically acclaimed stage show, which premiered at Dublin Theatre Festival 2017, more details here.

Watch the 4-minute film of Just Walk to Jerusalem

Download the Walking to Jerusalem 2020-21 tour guide here

Jack Cornish talking walking

Jack Cornish is a programme manager for the “Don’t Lose Your Way” campaign at Ramblers, the UK charity promoting walking and defending rights of way. That’s the ‘day job’, but there is much more walking in Jack than just from 9 to 5. He has walked the entire length of the British Isles and is walking every street in London. The interview opens with Andrew Stuck asking Jack what “Don’t Lose Your Way” is all about and what his role entails. 22’06″ 10.4MBY

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Mark Reid talking walking

If you are ever going to be caught out in inclement weather on the mountains or hills of northern England, having met Mark Reid, founder of Team Walking, Andrew Stuck can think of no other person he would rather have as his guide. Mark’s passion for the outdoors is only outshone by his desire to share it with others. He has written many guide books, led countless walks and facilitated workshops in the hills, and has notched up mountain leadership and training qualifications by the score. In this interview, we talk about creative thinking as Andrew has just joined one of Mark’s regular, seasonal ‘netwalking’ events with local businessmen and women in the Yorkshire Dales. However, the interview opens with Mark describing a recent philosophy walk that he co-devised with community philosopher, Graeme Tiffany, revealing how walking with others can take you in to deeper thoughts. 22’15” 10.4MB

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Dan Raven-Ellison talking walking

In this extended episode, published to coincide with the Festival celebrating London becoming a National Park City, Andrew Stuck talks to Dan Raven-Ellison, the campaigner behind the initiative. Dan is far more than just a ‘one trick pony’ having spent a lifetime seeking ways of getting people, young and old outdoors into nature. He has also been exploring new ways of making it easier for people to understand the scale of increasing urbanisation and its impact on the natural world of which we are all part. A self-styled, ‘guerrilla geographer’, the conversation begins with Dan explaining what that means. 34’41” 16.3MB

Recorded in April 2019 in Walpole Park, Ealing in West London on a windy day in which the recording had to be stopped as planes passed overhead.

Dan with EEG head mount recording his brain activity

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Horatio Clare talking walking

www.jamesbedford.com

Within striking distance of Hebden Bridge, as dusk falls, accompanied by his dog Freda, radio producer, presenter and writer, Horatio Clare takes Andrew Stuck on a ‘slow walk’ close to his home in an area known as Hard Castle Crags.  The sky above us fills with insects and the birds and bats that feed on them.  Always alert to the nature that surrounds him, they don’t walk far before they stop, so Horatio can point out some creature Andrew had not as yet spotted and can’t identify.  In a candid conversation, Horatio shares his enthusiasms for slow walking and how it makes compelling radio listening, as well as talking about his writing about nature and travel, and how walking through the landscape are critical to his work. 25’45” 12.1MB

Something of his Art: Walking to Lubeck with J. S. Bach (Field Notes) Little Toller 2018

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Rick Pearson talking walking

Often uncelebrated and rarely visited, the summits of each of the London boroughs can be somewhat of a let down, by the time you reach them.  However, in the company of Rick Pearson, even the climb to the highest point in London, becomes an enjoyable adventure.  Andrew Stuck accompanies him to  Westerham Heights, Bromley’s highest peak. Andrew admits he was somewhat underwhelmed when they conquered it, yet the passion and sheer exuberance of Rick as he recounts his previous conquests, and those to come, will carry you to the top.  Rick, in turn, has accompanied many others on these adventures, and you can listen to their stories on his londons-peaks.com podcast. 23’32” 11.0MB

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Listen to Rick’s recording of our adventure to Westerham Heights.

Richard Smith talking walking

Although quite a few inches shorter than Andrew Stuck, Richard Smith was one of the few people Andrew has interviewed who has walked faster than he does.  Andrew had to stop a couple of times while recording the interview just to catch his breath!  Not only a fast walker, Richard is someone who packs a lot into one life: a gynaecology cancer consultant and surgeon, internationally acclaimed womb-transplant specialist, academic author and father of four.  However, it is his enthusiasm for walking long distances, chanting while walking, and discovering pilgrimage sites that has drawn Andrew to him.

Andrew was introduced to him by one of his neighbours, fellow Scot, Tim Ingram-Smith whom Andrew has also interviewed previously for Talking Walking, and who invited Andrew to the book launch of one of Richard’s books: The Journey: Spirituality, Pilgrimage, Chant.

Garroch Head, Bute: a ‘thin place’ & place of pilgrimage

Richard accompanies Andrew on a short walk along the Regent’s Canal and within the breadth of their conversation, they discuss the value to him of walking, chant and walking in silence, as well as the benefits that walking can bring to women as they grow older, whether cancer sufferers or not. 22’48” 10.7MB

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Nick Hallissey talking walking

Andrew & Nick walk along “The Backs” in Cambridge with King’s College chapel in the background

A warm mid-summer’s day stroll through the Grantchester Meadows beside the river Cam should have been the idyllic setting for an interview by Andrew Stuck of Nick Hallissey, Deputy Editor of Country Walking magazine.

A professional walker and writer who has an encyclopeadic knowledge of walking routes throughout Britain.  For many, his must be the dream job, but as he reveals it is not just endless walks in the beautiful countryside, there’s research and meticulous preparation.  Neither of which Andrew appears to have done for this walk.  In addition, there are office-bound days prepping monthly issues of the magazine. We are also accompanied by a photographer, as Nick is keen to use images from our walk in a future feature. It is an experience Andrew has not encountered before. 11.4MB 24’19”

You can read Nick’s account of our walk in the March 2018 issue of Country Walking magazine. Want to read more of Nick’s adventures?  Country Walking Magazine are offering listeners to this podcast a discounted rate on subscriptions (including a trial package of 3 months for just £5) – just follow this link

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Why don’t you take up the Country Walking Walk 1000 miles challenge in 2018?

 

Photos were expertly taken by Richard Faulks.

Lisa Pook talking walking

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Lisa Pook is a fun-loving outdoorsy woman, just an ordinary person (so she says), but she has chosen an adventure that one can’t help thinking is a bit bonkers – not least because it is hard to grasp where she is planning to go, or how she will know when she actually gets there.  Add to theIMG_3564-2 mix, freezing cold temperatures and hurricane force winds, no wonder she is happy to be picked up to fly the return leg home, makes you wonder what makes her want to set out in the first place.

Since we recorded this interview, Lisa’s planned adventure, the Ice Warrior Challenge to the ‘Northern pole of inaccessibility‘ has had to be postponed, so she will now set out early in 2016. 22’34” 10.6MB

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STOP PRESS: Can you help Lisa reach the Pole?  Donate here

Nick Hunt talking walking

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Have you been inspired by a piece of travel writing to try a similar endeavour of your own, but found circumstance or lack of courage has knocked you off your stride?  Not so Nick Hunt, who as a teenager, read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s account of a walk across Europe.  bavaria_2Nick has followed in Fermor’s footsteps, walking from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, recounting his seven month journey in a book entitled ‘Walking the Woods and the Water’.  What pace do you set yourself? How do you keep yourself going? Who do you have as your companions? What do you learn about yourself and about walking? As I try to keep up with Nick on a walk along the popular canal towpath from Broadway Market to Islington, I ask him these questions and more. 29’27″14.5MB

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Want to hear more from Nick Hunt?  Try his audio field guide on How to walk across Europe

walking the woods and the water_2Buy: Nick Hunt’s Walking the woods and the water published in trade paperback by Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Photo credits: Nick Hunt


Where the wild winds are – published in 2017 – It describes a series of walks following the invisible pathways of some of Europe’s named winds – Helm, Bora, Sirocco, Foehn, Mistral – to discover how they affect landscapes, people and cultures.  READ MORE

STOP PRESS – “Where the Wild Winds are” has been shortlisted for the National Geographic Traveller Reader Award for 2018 

What has Nick done since our interview

“In the past year I have moved from London to Bristol, but am currently looking after a small cottage in the Lake District for the coldest, darkest, wettest of the seasons. In 2016 I spent three months living and working in Atlantis Books, a bookshop on the Greek island of Santorini, and last year led a group of friends on a ten-day walk through the Accursed Mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. I’ve been continuing to work with the Dark Mountain Project as editor and contributor, publishing two books of (loosely) ecological and ‘uncivilised’ writing a year. But my main project has been a series of walks following the invisible pathways of some of Europe’s named winds – Helm, Bora, Foehn, Mistral, Sirocco – to discover how they affect landscapes, people and cultures. The book about these journeys, Where the Wild Winds Are, was published in September 2017 by Nicholas Brealey, and is soon being translated into Italian, German and Dutch. Currently I am working on a book about London’s feral green parakeets for Paradise Road.”

STOP PRESS – soon to be published by indie publisher Paradise Road in Autumn 2018 is Nick’s study of parakeets in London – you can get a taste of it in this article that Nick wrote.

Tim Hagyard – talking walking

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Tim Hagyard a planner and urban designer, took a career break in 2013, to devise and walk a 1500 mile route through Britain, that linked places of worship with places from his childhood and those related to friends and family. “Walking Sacred Britain” also marked the 10th anniversary of his wife’s death. DSC01684Contemplative walking is key to Tim’s way of life, providing respite from the day to day pressures of a busy local authority planning department, and as part of his practice as a Buddhist.   The interview was recorded when Tim was only three days into the 112 day walk, full of anticipation and a sense of freedom. His walk began began from the Sangha of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire – we join him in London, after breakfast in Swiss Cottage, and walk a short distance to the mosque in Regent’s Park.  Our conversation ranges widely, as Tim reveals the choice of destinations and how they relate to his life and faith. 20’44” 9.7MB

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What has Tim done since our interview

“After the walk, it took me a while to note certain fundamental changes had taken place in my habits and ways of thinking.

For instance after 5 months of not sitting in a car I never found the option of car travel very attractive again. My annual mileage has fallen to 2- 3000 miles a year and that includes some essential use for work.

In daily life I try to either walk or cycle journeys because I really want to be outdoors, enjoy the physical movement and exercise . I also try to use public transport as I prefer many things that this offers in terms of exercise, adventure and the abilty to use the travelling time for reading etc. Car travel for me is not the quality choice.

I actually returned to complete gaps from the 2013 walk. So in 2014 and 2015 I walked another 350 miles so that finally my whole route around Britain had been done on foot, making it a complete continuous walk was important to me if not entirely logical.

When it comes to holiday planning I tend to find myself thinking of walking holidays as the most relaxing option.  e.g. To keep me in touch with my young adult children we have started the South West Coast Path – walking it in stages.

Pilgrimage – I was delighted to hear about the British Pilgrimage Trust and joined them in 2017 for a weekend of walking and singing Blake’s “Jerusalem” down in Sussex. I very much appreciated their joyful and inclusive approach. http://britishpilgrimage.org/

This was a prelude to joining “Just Walk to Jerusalem” – Organised by the Amos Trust , a walk from London across Europe to the Holy land for equal rights in Israel / Palestine to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration ….As soon as I was sent a link I knew I had to join it .

http://www.amostrust.org/amos-palestine/

So I negotiated a career break even though it was a difficult time at work with re-structuring of the planning service. I joined over 100 others and 9 of us made the 2000 mile journey across Europe with a final huge reception in Palestine. My previous experience did give me a certain inner confidence in completing the walk, although the dynamics were very different from the more personal nature of the 2013 walk. It really opened my eyes to injustices that I was poorly informed about. I also kept a weekly blog of the journey.

https://justwalkingforpeace.wordpress.com/  “

John Davies talking walking

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John Davies a Church of England vicar in Norris Green, Liverpool talks about his walk beside the M62 from east to west which he undertook in 2007. M62coversmRecorded over the Internet in February 2009 and published in February 2010. 21’30” 10.1 MB

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