During the summer I went on a hike from Newton Abbot to Torquay to chat about Slow Ways with John Danks from BBC Spotlight. Here’s how that went..
National Geographic: How you can help plot the future of UK walking – from a standstill
“Walkers, your country needs you – and the inability to walk very far at the moment needn’t be a barrier.
An ambitious new project led by a National Geographic Explorer is recruiting an army of 500 volunteers to create the most comprehensive network of walking routes in Great Britain – linking every village, town and city via the nation’s intricate web of public rights of way.
The Slow Ways project is the brainchild of geographer and explorer Daniel Raven-Ellison, who is seeking to find a silver lining to the cloud of coronavirus lockdown. With the population confined to home, his intrepid routes-without-boots scheme requires nothing more than a computer, map-reading skills and a galvanised public spirit. His goal is to plot more than 4,000 walking routes on an online map, using the 200,000km of footpaths and bridleways that trace their way between village, town and city.”
Read the whole article on National Geographic.
Walk Magazine: Walk & Talk… Dan Raven-Ellison
“The urban explorer and ‘guerilla geographer’ is leading the campaign to make London a national park city.
What is the London National Park City campaign?
The concept is my own ‘invention’, although it’s not a new idea. We have enclosed and protected green spaces for centuries. Urban nature conservation is in the DNA of town and city dwellers, from private gardens to sprawling nature reserves. Britain has already exported the idea of urban nature conservation around the world, so the only contribution I am making is stressing that the whole of London’s urban landscape should be part of the National Park City. That means all the parks, gardens, rivers, industrial sites – a recognition of the collective value of the whole urban landscape.”
Read the whole interview on the Ramblers website.
Financial Times: Campaigners call for a new national park — in London
“With 8m trees and 14,000 species of wildlife, the capital should be recognised as an ecological as well as a financial centre, say campaigners — and the mayor agrees”
Read this feature by Simon Usborne on my 563km big walk around London on the Financial Times website.
Photo by Tom Jamieson.
London’s Peaks: Wandsworth
A few weeks ago I went for a hike to Wandsworth’s highest point with Rick Pearson from London’s Peaks, a new podcast.
“The premise of the podcast is simple: each episode, one notable resident of one of the twelve inner-city boroughs will lead us on a walk to the highest point within that borough. Along the way, we’ll talk fondest memories, hopes for the future and, crucially, what that area of London means to them.”
You can listen to all the podcasts here.
Using technology to make #wildcities
First posted on NationalGeographic.com/Cisco
Back in June, I started my walk across all of the UK’s national parks and cities in St David’s, Britain’s smallest city. Since then, I’ve spent 338 hours taking 2,443,845 steps and walking 1,686km. To put that into perspective, equivalent to walking the length of the country and then some.
During all that time, I wore an an Emotiv EEG headset which collected data over 5 million times during the expedition: taking a 3D snapshot of activity inside my brain, transferring the reading from my headset to my smartphone, using an algorithm to work out my emotions and then sharing the data through the cloud for geotagging, analysis, visualisation and storage. I’m now working with neuroscientists and a range of experts to crunch and analyse the data. I hope to have some findings to share later this year.
What has become clear to me is the enormous power of this kind of technology to improve our lives. I really felt that wearing the headset influenced my behaviour. Much like how other wearable devices (such as activity trackers) influence how far I walk and how many steps I take, the brainware put me more in touch with my feelings. On a very personal and practical level, I feel that is has not only helped me to avoid stress but also actively search for interest in everyday places.
The opportunity is for technologies like these to become more affordable, used by far more people and connected through the internet of everything. We already know that data is being used to in many areas to improve health and social care, save energy and preserve the environment and help commuters travel with increased efficiency.Data revealing how thousands or millions of people feel about specific or different kinds of places could directly influence how they are designed. I hope that big data from a crowd of brains will add to the growing evidence for why we should make cities greener, wilder, less polluted and more healthy.
Influenced by wearing the headset, I had many thoughts and ideas about how we could make cities better. My lasting impression is that the UK is a wonderful country, but it’s also bursting with potential and opportunities to make it even more so. Here are just a few ideas of things I think would make the UK better.
Be more inviting
We should strive to make our cities more inviting and accessible to all by growing habitat for wildlife, having benches outside our houses, prioritising streets for children and animals instead of cars, hanging swings on street corners and offsetting every negative “no” sign with a positive “do” sign.
Be more interesting
We could increase visual interest in our cityscapes by erecting sculptures on roundabouts, curating exhibitions on household window sills, designing streets to boost bird populations and amplify their songs, chalking poetry onto paths and encouraging or making in mandatory for retail parks to have as much green as possible and make climbing or art walls on the side of their buildings.
Be more invested
We should be more invested in places by not just protecting nature and heritage but actually creating it, allowing culture and life to thrive wherever possible. We should walk more, engage with each other more and invest in making places more inviting and more interesting.
Be more connected
We should be better connected by ensuring everyone can always get a decent data connection, (unless they are deep inside a cave), using sensors and displays to reveal and visualise current levels of air pollution, monitoring flood risks at a hyper-local level and live screen nearby wildlife in city centres.
Many of the above ideas are personal, local and low tech. Increased connectivity will help us share, engage and evaluate these actions and many more to work towards, more liveable, healthier and wilder cities.
The next part of my journey is to use all of my Wild Cities expedition experiences, ideas and findings to further my work to make London a successful National Park City. To find out when the final Wild Cities results are published and how the London National Park City campaign is going you can follow me on Twitter at @DanRavenEllison.
Time Out: An urban wanderer walked all the way across London. Here’s what he discovered
I’ve just finished walking across all of the UK’s 15 national parks and 69 cities: the equivalent of the length of Britain and then some. Without a doubt, the best part of my journey was my 18-hour, 56km leg across London: from Hinchley Wood in the south-west, through the centre of the city and all the way to Grange Hill in the north-east. The UK has many brilliant cities, but none compare to London’s diversity, omnipotence and sheer scale.
Continue reading on TimeOut.com.
BBC News: Mood swings. The man mapping Britain’s emotions
“National Geographic explorer Daniel Raven-Ellison has just completed a 2.5 million step walk across Britain’s cities and parks and electronically measured his changing mood with each step.
Wearing an EEG monitor strapped to his head he collected millions of snapshots of the activity in his brain as he crossed 69 cities over seven months in the UK from June last year.
The monitor measures the electrical activity of the brain from sensors located across key areas of the scalp.
Its software provided metrics on how stressed, relaxed, excited, focused, interested and engaged he was during his walks.”
Continue reading David Sillito’s report on the BBC News website.