Election Exercise

I have recently discovered that my long distance hiking has given me a certain amount of stamina, which I have finally found a constructive use for, delivering leaflets, letters and canvassing for the forthcoming election. It is nice to be able to combine doing something I enjoy, with something I believe in, so I am discovering the people, the tenements and the colonies of Edinburgh one staircase at a time.

While doing this I have developed a huge respect for the postal workers of the city, who climb the equivalent of a mountain in an average week. I have also discovered a secret side to the city I love in the many hidden gardens high up in the tenement blocks. I thought I’d share some of my urban explorations here to prove that you don’t need to be in the countryside to have an adventure, and that electioneering can be a unique way to get to know a place.

If you aren’t already registered to vote, it only takes 5 minutes on the UK government website to make sure your voice is heard.

Short and sweet

I have listed a selection of six of my favourite short, easy walks (under 5 miles long) in Northumberland, hand picked because they contain some lovely places. Take your pick from castles, waterfalls, grey seals, St Cuthbert’s Chapel, puffins, scheduled ancient monuments, salmon fishermen and pristine beaches on walks which are suitable for all the family. They all have easy parking and facilities such as pubs, cafes and shops nearby, details of which are included on the page. Take a look at Six Shorts in the Northumberland section.

6 short walks in Northumberland
6 short walks in Northumberland


Exploring my own back yard

In 2015 I had to compromise all my adventure plans and explore what was on my doorstep instead. This was due to family responsibilities, dreadful public transport and lack of resources. As a lover of wild places it was hard not to view this as a demotion. Following 5 long distance trails and 15 years of walking in some of Britain’s least populated hills in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, it is easy to become a bit of a purist.

Heading inland along the banks of the Tyne towards North Shields
Heading inland along the banks of the Tyne towards North Shields

I suppose I was trying to expunge my urban roots and a long spell living in London, but some people on Twitter have reminded me that there is plenty to see and some valuable wild space in large cities if you know where to look.

The whole national park movement was intended to bring the countryside within reach of ordinary people. However, for purists there is a temptation to want the ordinary people out of the parks again, and this doesn’t sit well with me. All this has involved me in some navel gazing about my attitudes.

Newcastle Quayside from the Millennium Bridge
Newcastle Quayside from the Millennium Bridge

Inspired by some groups trying to create National City Parks in London and Glasgow, and by people like Alastair Humphreys promoting the idea of finding do-able adventures on your doorstep, I have been exploring my own back yard a bit.

North Shields Fish Quay Area
Union Quay by North Shields Fish Quay

Like many people, I thought I knew my local area so well that it had nothing to teach me. However I have gradually realised that familiarity had bred some contempt, and that necessity can indeed be the mother of invention.

Bolam Coyne in the Byker Wall development by Ralph Erskine
Grade 2 Listed Bolam Coyne in the Byker Wall development by Ralph Erskine

I will continue to bring you posts from wild places, but I need to shape my interests around the possible for the moment. For those of us who live in cities for whatever reason, we either discount this kind of walking and sit at home reading other people’s wild adventures, or we get out there.

With apologies to the purists.