For a long while now, I've been keen to combine my two greatest loves into one very special project Pathspun - bringing landscapes to life through the sharing of story.
Each walk contains a unique series of encounters with plants, trees, creatures and places that have their own unique tales to tell. Our journeys are gentle with time to pause and enjoy the outdoors, as well as being full of fascinating folklore that excites and inspires the mind while the body breathes in the fresh air and enjoys the feeling of freedom that nature so perfectly provides.
Dates and tickets will be appearing here over the next few months and spaces will be limited to six including myself, so as to keep everyone safe. Walks will vary in length, taking about 2-3 hours and will take place in wild spaces no more than an hour away from Bristol. We will meet at a designated starting point at 10am, leaving to return to Bristol by 2pm at the latest.
“A walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells.”
- Robert MacFarlane
Spending time outside is incredibly beneficial when it comes to our mental and physical wellbeing. To reduce stress, banish anxiety and improve our mood, a walk outdoors is an obvious option and with all that is happening in the world at the moment - time outside should definitely be an essential part of everyone's daily routine.
But what if you add in some walking and a story? How about that? Something to distract and relax us as well as provide us with something to ponder while we're out enjoying that fresh air!
Just like exercise, stories have the unique power to focus our emotions and invigorate us. Aside from providing the obvious escapism, they also increase our levels of Oxycontin - the 'feel good' hormone - positively influencing and boosting our mood and behaviour. But these aren't their only superpowers...
Since we were small, fairy and folk tales have helped us make sense of the ever-changing, unpredictable nature of life. Our best-loved stories, with their constantly improbable plots and fantastical twists and turns, still serve us well when it comes to coping with the challenges and changes we face today. Still, as grownups, they can provide a means by which we can ponder particular problems and explore possible solutions. More often than not, the experiences they present of misfortune and fear often show us how courage and determination could be employed even by the most disempowered to change the course of events for the better!
To investigate this a little bit further, check out the podcasts I did during lockdown.
WHAT IF I CAN'T GET OUT?
Don't panic - we've got it covered! Pridie has teamed up with Director of Photography Sarah Smither and Freelance Editor Valentina Riva to create some very special story walk films that can be viewed totally free, from home.
The purpose of these beautifully shot short films featuring sections of Pridie's Pathspun story walks, is to make that very special blend of nature and story accessible to everyone, especially if they have been affected by the pandemic.
They are totally free and are designed to both relax and inspire those of us who have found it tough being out of touch with nature and local landscapes, and who continue to find reconnecting with the outdoors intimidating and challenging as a result of Covid-19 and Lockdown.
If you are finding it hard to leave home at the moment and are missing being out in the open countryside, or if you are interested in reconnecting with the wild outside and would like to see what our story walks involve, why not join us virtually via these little videos.
Here's to the very special inter-connectivity between story and walking in outdoor spaces that has the power to heal, invigorate and inspire us all!
What will I need for the walk?
Here's what you'll need to bring with you if you join me for a guided hike...
**Hand sanitiser and a face mask/covering ** (This is mandatory as although a face mask/covering does not need to be worn while we are observing a social distancing of 2m, it could be required in emergency situations, or when social distancing is not possible.
Appropriate walking clothing to keep you warm on the day (no jeans please!)
Spare warm layers (several thinner layers are more versatile than 1 thick)
Walking boots (some areas are rough and uneven so boots that go above the ankle, providing good ankle support, are recommended rather than low cut walking/trail shoes on most walks. Boots will also keep your feet drier than walking shoes in muddy areas). No trainers please!
Warm hat and gloves or sun hat if sunny
Food, drink and snacks for the walk. (We will have a couple of food stops whilst out on the walk.)
Personal first aid kit (for minor cuts, blisters, sun cream, pain relief and any personal medication)
Rucksack with waterproof liner/bag
Money/phone for car park fees
Optional additions: gaiters and/or walking poles if you use them
Pridie is a professional storyteller based in Bristol. A self-confessed story obsessive, she performs and delivers workshops for all ages.
Her focus is on traditional folk and fairy tale narratives, myths and legends, and her love of the Great Outdoors means that every one of her events draws deeply from the wild outside!
A qualified teacher, Mountain Leader and bushcraft enthusiast, Pridie has also been leading groups in the outdoors since she was eighteen. She's a huge fan of the wild outside with a keen interest in all the flora and fauna it holds! (As well as sharing a story, watch out for the weird and wacky facts that she'll throw into the mix from practical bushcraft tips and ancient remedies to flower spells and animal spirit medicine!)
DATES AUTUMN 2020
STAYING SAFE OUTDOORS
COVID - 19
To keep everyone safe, Pathspun story walks will be operating with reduced group sizes. Numbers will depend on the activity type and whether you book as a household, a private booking or an open public group booking.
Additional safety and hygiene measures, and some changes to recommended kit have been made. We will also be following all social distancing guidance.
I have thoroughly risk assessed and made a number of changes to enable us to be COVID-19 Secure. Some of the routes have been amended and new routes added to facilitate social distancing and avoid the busiest times or locations.
The government have already announced that people in England can take unlimited exercise whilst strictly following social distancing and other guidance. This includes up to six people outside of their households meeting up outdoors provided social distancing is followed. The BMC (British Mountaineering Council), who represent the interests of hill walkers, have provided some very useful guidance (which you can access here). I am sensitive to the impact on local rural communities and on the Mountain Rescue teams (see their statement here) and will be avoiding the busiest times/locations and ensuring that levels of risk are minimised.
For any booking you are able to reschedule for up to 12 months or obtain a full refund if needed as a result of COVID-19. Just contact us if you need to change your booking. If I am unable to run the walk as a result of COVID-19, a full refund or option to reschedule will always be provided. If you wish to discuss your booking please contact me at any time. I will aim to make changes wherever possible to ensure you are completely happy with all arrangements. If you are from one of the vulnerable groups, we can talk with you about how we can deliver an experience you feel happy to book, for example as a private booking or with other additional measures.
If you wish to read more about COVID-19 in the outdoor setting please read this article by Professor Ian Hill and the BMC.