*NEW* Check out our sparkly press release for Camino Encounters below.
We would like to invite you to Camino Encounters, when we will be walking Ben Wigley’s film – Camino to COP – Of Walking On Thin Ice – from London to Bristol for the Encounters Film Festival where it is being shown for the first time on 27th September. There will be two screenings in Bristol. The premiere will be outdoors on Tuesday 27th September. Please meet us anytime after 1700 and by 1930 at the latest at St Stephens Church, 21 St Stephen’s St, Bristol BS1 1EQ. There will be a second screening on Wednesday 28th September at 10.30am at the Watershed Cinema 2. You can buy tickets here: https://2022.encounters.film/schedule/631f00daefea1f005ac71b27
You can see the trailer here. The film is very much a tribute to our Camino to COP, the 56-day journey made on foot from London and Bristol to Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference in September and October last year; a tribute to the community formed and connections made, but the film also invites us and others to question what’s happened since, what action still needs to be taken, what came out of the COP process itself…?
On 18th September we will set off from Parliament Square in London and walk to Bristol. A journey of 135 miles, from one Camino start point to the other, in celebration of the Camino to COP and to bring the film to its premiere. As always, we walk with open ears, eyes and hearts and seek out those Camino connections. Our vision statement remains:
We are united by our faith; a faith that we can advocate and influence and be the change that we want for our world. We choose to walk as a practice of that faith, an act of connection with the earth on which we walk and the people with whom we walk and the communities through which we pass; and we make our way in kinship with the peoples and creatures of the earth who are suffering and displaced by climate and ecological breakdown. We do so peacefully and lawfully, ready to engage and learn, because we care and we have hope.
And we’d love you to join us! But this invitation does come with some guiding advice:
- Firstly regarding distance. We plan to cover 135 miles in 8 days. Averagely 17 miles per day, with a couple of days over 20 miles. No one is planning to do the whole thing, it may be that no single individual even completes a whole day – rather that the film is transported relay-style, passed from caminista to caminista, and we – as a walking community – achieve the distance. In order to do that, we will need to stick to our schedule – there will be some early mornings and probably some late evenings. The route has been subdivided into sections of around 5 miles, many of whose start/end points are served by public transport options. Please think not which day/s you would like to join, but which sections.
- Secondly regarding staying over. We are arranging accommodation – Camino-style (a floor to sleep on, water, loos, electricity and hopefully a kitchen) – but it will be limited and we do need to know who’s planning to stay where and when. This is required by all venues and in our efforts to secure accommodation we commit to providing this information
There is a spreadsheet and a plotaroute, maps have been purchased, outreach and engagement plans are being made. If you are interested in joining all or a part of this – as a walker – please join this WhatsApp group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/EVHGB96Ddtc6PBcxhXXs9U
The schedule can be found here (it’s a live document and subject to change). And if you are missing the joys of plotaroute – the draft route is here!
If you are interested in finding out more or hosting something similar please contact Helen directly at email@example.com.
Reflections on our Camino Encounters
Day 1 – 18th September
London Piccadilly to Hayes & Harlington
It was glorious walking weather as we left behind the busy Royal Parks and the lines of people queuing to lay flowers for the late Queen. We shared the pleasure of rediscovered community and connection when one of our walkers recalled childhood memories as we passed a house where her grandmother had lived. Our way led us under branches carrying an unexpected host of tree protectors in Acton Park so we stopped to share a few moments with the huge and glorious tree. The last few miles were along the River Brent and The Grand Union Canal and then home in time for tea.
No walking on Monday 19th but our journey resumes at 8.30am on 20th September at Hayes and Harlington railway station.
Day 2 – 20th September
Hayes & Harlington to Maidenhead
Train cancellations meant resourceful walkers had to find different ways to join! But after the intial panic was over everyone made it to meet up at West Drayton and then to walk along the Grand Union Canal. Many beautiful dragonflies and a few aloof herons were spotted along the way. We crossed the River Colne, (the scene of this cute little video) and then followed the route taken by the Queen’s hearse the day before through Slough. We then crossed the Thames to reach our rest in Maidenhead – another 15 miles completed! We had some lovely interactions with people we encountered along the way, sharing their concerns about the climate crisis and their great interest in the film premier of #OfWalkingOnThinIce.
And then the pleasure of a wonderful vegan meal made for us by the Methodists who have kindly allowed us to stay in their church on the High Street. The generosity and kindness shown by people who welcome as we walk is as beautiful today as it was a year ago.
Day 3 – 21st September
Maidenhead to Reading
Day 3 was blessed with wonderful weather for the whole 13.7 miles of our shortest day.
Before we set off Jen shared a reading celebrating Mabon, the autumn equinox when all is in balance. Then woodland delights out of Maidenhead; a hazardous road walk to the gorgeous chocolate box village of Sonning; a short break at beautiful Littlewick Green and a second stop Twyford for a rest by the river edge. There were rowers on the Thames. Sad to see so many signs up about the dangers of the toxic algae that is in most of the rivers we have passed since we started our journey. Our final miles followed the River Kennett into Reading town where we met a warm welcome, a hot shower and several courses of food from the Quakers.
As another day walking our beautiful film to its premiere draws to an end, a big thank you to the Reading Quaker House members and XR Reading for their hospitality tonight, for making us an amazing meal and for sharing time together.
Day 4 – 22nd September
Reading to Newbury
We had to negotiate the monster roads of Reading town centre on our way to Alok Sharma’s constituency office. He wasn’t in but we left him an invitation to see “Camino To COP – Of Walking On Thin Ice”. The film’s maker Ben Wigley came to walk with us for a while and to hand over the film staff for us to take to the Encounters Film Festival. We’ll deliver it with the film when we get to Bristol. Great interactions with local people again, including a chance encounter with an organiser of the ‘Reading Climate Festival – another possible screening of the film!
After rejoining the Kennet River we made our way along the beautiful green light-speckled canalway. Our destination was Newbury Quaker House and 20 miles after we left our Reading Quaker hosts we were spoilt with a wonderful meal made for us by walker Basia’s relatives. And there was cake made by a local school teacher. We love cake! It was with grateful hearts that we went to bed early in readiness for an early start and many miles to come.
Day 5 – 23rd September
Newbury to Pewsey
A few of us went from the Newbury Quaker House to do an assembly and workshop at St Nicholas Junior School. It was good fun doing activities with the children connected to our journey and care for the environment. The rest of us left earlier to rejoin the Kennett and Avon Canal on what was to be our longest day. 24 miles of quiet waterways of beautiful bridges and many, many locks.
On arriving at St Johns church in Pewsey, our accommodation for the night, our hosts had prepared yet another wonderful meal which they took the time to share with us, giving us the opportunity to show the trailer for the film and to share our personal stories about our journeys into climate activism.
Helen and Jen also took the film trailer to Trowbridge Town Hall where it was shown at the towns weekly environmental film season, with an intention for the full film to be shown there at some point in the future. Look out for it if you are in the area.
A busy and productive day for all , with many tired feet!
Day 6 – 24th September
Pewsey to Trowbridge
We walked from Pewsey across the fields as the sun rose and we saw one of the White Horses on the hillside as we came towards the canal. And knowing later that we were passing through a neolithic landscape somehow made us feel more rooted in the land. It was another beautiful day on the Kennet & Avon canal which we joined on the on Ladies Bridge, and we were delighted that many people had already heard we were coming. Those of us who thought there were many locks yesterday, we were in for a surprise today!
Day 7 – 25th September
Trowbridge to Keynsham
After a well earned sleep in a delightful tin church at Trowbridge we walked along the canal to the pretty honeystone village of Bradford on Avon where we were met with hot drinks. We were joined by more walkers at Midford before going through long dark tunnels with music and coloured lighting on the old Bath to Bournemouth line.
Excited to meet the XR Bus Tour in Victoria Park. Helen and Ben told them about the walk and the film. We then followed the long straight Bath to Bristol Sustrans Path, crossed then followed the River Avon to the Baptist Church at Keynsham, where XR Keynsham meet, for lovely vegan grub cooked by Rich from XR Keynsham and an evening of conversation and watching the short version of Ben’s film.
Day 8 – 26th September
Keynsham to Bristol
Well we made it to Bristol!
Having said goodbye to our generous hosts at Keynsham Baptist Church and popped in to the Catholic Church of St Dunstan’s to admire their inspiring Season of Creation display and leave them some of our leaflets and prayer card we headed off on the last leg of our Camino Encounters – a gentle 9 mile walk and the forecast rain held off, perfect for the less hard core walkers joining us today. We were graced with the sweetness of a few late blackberries, cascades of autumn leaves and three cormorants sitting like prehistoric pterosaurs looking down on us and below them a heron gliding in to land on the river bank. Wondered who was watching who?
And then on into Bristol carrying our Walk The Walk banner – gifted to us by XR Glasgow at the end of our Camino To COP – to be wonderfully greeted outside the Cathedral on College Green by brilliant drummers and people holding hand knitted banners with messages about caring for out planet.
Tomorrow we hand over the film and watch its premiere. And we will be doing two hours of outreach from 5-7pm at St Stephen’s Church. Come and say hello if you can, and join us to watch the film