On the right track: how walking connects me to the land and its people

From the Himalayas to Palestine; north London to south Devon, hiking gives the film-maker and climate activist a sense of belonging

From the age of eight, I attended a little boarding school on the Derbyshire-Staffordshire border where I’d often get in trouble on a Sunday afternoon. The teachers would leave us to roam the edge of the grounds where we were supposed to pass time making fires, toasting marshmallows or playing cricket but my habit was to set out over the fences and stiles into the landscape and often, much to the teachers’ chagrin, no one knew where to find me.

That was the point. To stand on unfamiliar ground and, for a moment, feel the world as something new brought with it a feeling I would crave and it formed a habit that stuck with me. By my mid-20s, I was a committed pedestrian, buoyed up by a privileged encounter on the streets of Whitechapel with east London’s resident visionary, Iain Sinclair, who warned against the underground as a way of getting around the city. He likened its subterranean networks to rabbit warrens that would cut us off from instinct and make it hard for us to know where (or who) we really are.

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