2014 marks the fifth year that I've been seriously photographing my local (and more remote) walks. As a result of doing some recent talks on walking in North Oxfordshire, and reviewing those images from the last four years, I've put together a slideshow of "the best bits".
For the best results from this page, I suggest you switch your web browser to "fullscreen" mode (usually just press the F11 key)
To view my latest images from 2014, goto the the 2014 photo journal main index. If you want to jump to the notes for the "Rambles Around the Banburyshire Countryside" talk (from which many of these images are taken), click here.
To find the location of this image on the map, click here
PS: At various points above I mention "The John Woolman Walk", also known as The Walk for Peace. I initally walked 50 miles from near Towcester to Evesham in May 2011 to help a Quaker on a sponsored walk, following the 1772 route of John Woolman. When she injured herself in June, I completed the last 110 miles of the walk from Dent, across the Pennines and down Wensleydale to York. You can find out more about that here.
"Rambles Around the Banburyshire Countryside"
Many of the above photos form part of my recent presentation, "Rambles Around the Banburyshire Countryside". If you click on the 'click here for a map' link when each photo is displayed, you'll be taken to an Ordnance Survey map with a small red arrow which points to where the photo was taken.
In addition to pretty pictures, an important part of the presentation is examining the inter-relationship between the landscape, local geology, and how that influences the natural world – and also how you can use this knowledge to improve the way you plan or improvise walks in the area:
The Streetmap web site provides free access to Ordnance Survey maps.
If you want to check out a walk before you get there, you can also use Google's Street View system. When you look at a Google Map, click and drag the little orange man from above the scale bar – and then and drop it onto a road that your are interested in seeing. When you let go with the mouse, the street view should be displayed. For example, here is a view of the entrance to the BBONT nature reserve at Wroxton.
Banbury's reference library in Marlborough Road has the paper geological survey maps for this area, which you can view for free – as well as historic and large-scale Ordnance Survey maps of the district. If you want to buy (at £12 each) the BGS geological survey sheets the ones for this are area are –
Sheet 201. Banbury, ISBN 0751805998.
Sheet 202. Towcester, ISBN 0751801232.
Sheet 218. Chipping Norton, ISBN 0751835242.
Sheet 219. Buckingham, ISBN 0751830437.
If you want to view a satellite image of the area, goto Google Maps.
If you want to access detailed information on the history of the area, you can access the Victorian County History of Oxfordshire for the Banbury Hundred and the Bloxham Hundred (this covers most of the local parishes in Oxfordshire).
Oxfordshire County Council used to have a good bus information section for the Banbury area, but now they've farmed-out the task to the less well designed Traveline site. Click this link, enter 'Banbury' in the 'Location' box, and press enter to get a list of local services from Banbury. The most regular bus services are –
500 – Banbury, Farthinghoe, Brackley (runs 7 days a week).
Don't forget the Banbury-Oxford rail line (no Sunday service to local stations!), and more usefully you can travel to Oxford and get a train to the various stations along the Cotswold Line (most for less than £10, off-peak with a railcard).
The importance of using your local outdoors resource… to protect our most important landscapes!
One of the points I make, and one of the motivations for creating this talk, is that nationally some of our most important landscapes are being badly damaged by the weight of traffic from walkers and off-road cyclists – whilst in contrast the often wonderful countryside on people's doorsteps remains relatively underused.
If you want to view the Daily Mail article about people queuing for 2 hours to stand on the top of Snowdon, click here.
If you want to learn more about erosion in the National Parks see the Lake District's factsheet, or see the Fix the Fells web site.
Free Range Network Information Sheets
In the talk I mention about my work a few years ago on teaching "low impact living" skills by taking people camping. If you want to learn more practical information about walking and camping outdoors – and how that can help you think about living more sustainably – then goto the Free Range Network's Great Outdoors Information Sheets (also called 'The O-Series' of sheets).
In addition, I've also written a sheet for the Free Range Network on Wild Food and Foraging, which you might find interesting.
Being outdoors and the links to health and well-being
There's a lot of work being done now about the benefits to physical, and especially mental health from being outdoors.
The Henry David Thoreau article, Walking, can be found here.
As part of the Free Range Network's Great Outdoors Project sheets, I've written a general introduction to the issue in a sheet called The Wilderness Effect.
I showed a recent article on camping from Aeon Magazine, The camping cure: Living outside changes you – you can download a PDF file from the FRAW site, or you can goto the original on-line article here.
Mind's 2007 report referenced in the talk, Ecotherapy, can be downloaded from the FRAW web site. Other reports, including their latest 2013 report Feel better outside, feel better inside, can be found on their ecotherapy resources page.
The National Trust's Natural Childhood Report can be downloaded from the FRAW site. Other more recent National Trust work and projects on this theme can be found on their web site.
I occasionally organise walks in the area – some historical, mostly around the town centre, and some countryside walks. If you want to find out if/when these are happening you should keep an eye on the events calendar on the Ideas for a Change web site.
If you'd like to receive (ir)regular emails about possible walks and other events around the Banbury area then you might consider joining the Alternative Banbury Email List, which Ideas for a Change have set up to help local groups network together. If we are organising a walk, details will be emailed around that list.