Peter Fiennes, former publisher of Time Out Travel Guides, has turned his hand to writing books. Reviewers and book readers have loved his engaging and humorous prose, so it was a pleasure for Andrew Stuck to record an interview with him to talk about the travel writers that he most admires, a dozen of whom he has ‘accompanied’ in his latest bestselling book: “Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers”, the paperback of which will publish in August 2020 .Recorded on Clapham Common, in south London on a windy February day in 2020, pre-pandemic lockdown, when frequent jet planes and a helicopter interrupted the recording. 19’57” 9.3MB
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Children’s book illustrator and comic book artist, Lizzy Stewart, when drawing herself, draws herself walking – striding confidently across the urban scene. Her latest book, called “Walking Distance” is a personal account of the way she sees her life out and about on foot – she argues that walking is the ‘clearest way to participate in life’. Her work touches on themes of how women are observed in the city, both in reality and on film, as well as revealing insights into her creative process and her own ways of working. Recorded in and around the gardens surrounding the Horniman Museum in south east London on a February day in 2020. 22’08” 10.4MB
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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
Ella Parry-Davies, a post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, has been facilitating homemakersounds.org, a collection of soundwalks made with Filipina domestic and care workers employed “behind closed doors” in the Lebanon and the UK. In this interview, the ambiguity, complexity and unfairness of government immigration policy is discussed, as well as how recording and co-editing soundwalks develops an intimacy rarely found in ethnographic research. 21’12” 9.9MB
Recorded in February 2020 on a walk around residential streets in Swiss Cottage, London. Published to coincide with International Women’s Day 8 March 2020
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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On a visit to LISTEN: A Season of Sound Art taking place in Frome in Somerset, in the summer of 2019, Andrew Stuck participates in an immersive geo-located audio piece called ‘Walking Memories’. The piece has been composed by Phill Phelps and Ralph Hoyte, two of three partners who make up creative team Satsymph, who had been invited to use hours of recorded interviews from a Frome oral history group to create ‘Walking Memories’. Ralph and Phill, with their colleague Marc Yeats, have been making located media since 2004. Their latest work in Frome uses a hugely modified platform they call Satsymph QR with which they compose ‘spatial audio’ as Ralph describes it. For the interview, Andrew, Ralph and Phill are in a car park in Frome, a ‘sound pool’ within ‘Walking Memories’. The interview opens Andrew asking them both to explain a sound pool, and it is Phill’s voice that you hear answer him first. 19’19” 9.0MB
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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
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Peter Jaeger is Professor of Poetics at Roehampton University. For over 30 years he has been making pilgrimages to sacred sites around the world, keeping journals of his discoveries and walks. Using these as source texts and drawing on literature and walking narratives, he has composed Midamble a long form poem of book length, in which he has held to specific structural constraints for more than 400 pages. He compares writing long form poetry to walking long distances and during the discussion reveals how he structures the work in a rhythmical durational performance. 23’08” 10.8MB
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At the time of the publication of “Walking to Japan”, Andrew Stuck, producer of Talking Walking, was lucky enough to catch up with Canadian Carolyn Affleck Youngs in London; she had co-authored the book with her now deceased husband, Derek Youngs. Carolyn took a walking holiday on the Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain, where she met and eventually fell in love with Derek Youngs, himself a long time pilgrim, who walked for peace. Carolyn has quite a story of long walking of her own, but we also discuss the power of pilgrimage and she and Derek walking together, and how simply putting one step in front of the other, can have profound meaning to an individual as to society as a whole. Behind us is bustling Bermondsey and Bankside. We had to stop several times as the ambient noise of traffic and construction became too intrusive. 18’25” 8.7MB
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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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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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?