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A Man with a Fork in a World full of Soup

Written by George Fisher

Image for article A Man with a Fork in a World full of Soup

I’m like a man with a fork in a world full of soup.

That probably best describes my frustration and irritation over the past few weeks. Thankfully not about life in general, life is generally good. It’s the topic of Urban Walking that’s causing the annoyance. Let me clarify that, it's people’s lack of understanding of the topic that’s making me grumpy. Admittedly it doesn’t take a lot to make me grumpy.

So, a few weeks ago I told you I’d been enjoying some Urban Walking, first around Newcastle, then around Berwick upon Tweed. Edinburgh is another of my favourite places for this pastime. I went so far as to say I enjoy hours spent moving through towns and cities soaking up the atmosphere, appreciating the architecture, walking past great buildings and beneath beautiful bridges say, and looking out for remnants of industry and manufacturing. Our dear friend Paula Connelly responded by saying “I completely agree. Today we've enjoyed an 8 mile walk alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal in the industrial heartland of West Yorkshire. Completely different to fell walking but surprisingly enjoyable and interesting.” Bless you Paula!

You see when posting on the social media channels of a Lake District outdoor shop where the assumption is that stories will be about lakes and mountains I thought it wise to clarify the subject matter. Hence, Urban Walking.

However a very good friend approached me and said, “Urban Walking, surely it’s just walking?” I’ll count to ten and come back to that.

Our marketing Coordinator, Victoria aware of my interest, very kindly emailed me a link to a wonderful article by Rachel Dixon in the Guardian. Admittedly it’s an American inspired article but nevertheless it rightly points out that Urban Hiking as she calls it, is based on the idea that the city can be as exciting and strenuous a place to go for a walk as hills or mountains. Read on and she tells of Anja Phoenix, a mountain leader from Cumbria, yes a mountain leader, who has plotted a walk around Covent Garden, which begins with 193 steps up from the tube station, before revealing secret parts of the city; hidden passages, quiet courtyards and quirky finds, such as an old policeman’s hook in Great Newport Street and a pair of life-sized ears on the wall in Floral Street. It is a great way to combine exercise with exploration writes Rachel.

Sadly, the majority of the response to the article was along the lines of, “It’s just walking surely?”

Incidentally, I fully intend getting in touch with Anja in the hope she’ll talk with me on the matter of Urban Walking. Watch this space.

So, having counted to ten, let’s get back to “Surely it’s just walking”, well if it is, then you can keep your Hill Walking surely? I mean it must just be Walking, right? When I talk to people and tell them I've been enjoying some Coastal Walking a smile comes over their face as though a warm summer breeze just blew over them. When I say Urban Walking however, they frown and give me disapproving looks, while clinging dearly to their copy of Country Walking Magazine for direction. I should make it clear here, it’s a very enjoyable read.

This of course opens up a whole new can of worms about the terminology surrounding outdoor pursuits. What then of this Wild Camping I’m forever reading about? Surely not in the Lakes, one of the most manicured pieces of land in the country? Now take yourself off to Cairngorm, remote stretches of the Pennine Way or the Yarrow and Ettrick valleys in the Scottish Borders; that’s wild camping.

Another very good friend is, as she says, an Open Water Swimmer. That I understand. She’s not confined to a pool. But Wild Swimming? What’s that all about?

Oh the irony, they’re playing Petula Clark on the radio singing Downtown, “So go downtown”, no really they are, check the Radio Player if you like; Radio Two at 06:19 and on that musical note, I’m off for some breakfast. I hope there’s a spoon for my coffee!