What we’ve done

Hayward and Parsons

St Rumwolds song

March 2015 – Pilgrimage to Scarborough Fair

A four day quest for BBC Radio 4, using the song as a key to the landscape

Fresh Water by sea

Oct/Nov 2014 – South Downs from Winchester to Canterbury

A three week newly invented Pilgrims Way – a quest to find a British Camino

Read more here

Rainbows on the South Downs

June 2014 – The North Downs from Winchester to Canterbury

A two week adaptation of the classic Pilgrims Way along the North Downs

See more here

The Black Prince's Well, Harbledown

March 2014 – Pilgrimage to Hartlake Bridge

A one week walk to sing a song at its source.

Read more here

Old Yew Ulcombe

 

Ed and Will

November 2012 – January 2013

Two Winter Months Westward

A chilly way to remember how good is walking in Britain. From East Kent to Avebury.

Read the articles: part one, and part two.

W E H Bath2

Singing by Bath Abbey

Woods water

 

September 2009 – May 2010

The Welsh Winter Woodland Project

home in the woods

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We spent last winter (and most of spring) in woods in the old Welsh county of Radnorshire. After much hunting for the right place to stay, we were shown this working hazel coppice, which had need of extra hands for a season. There was space, water, wood, beauty and isolation aplenty for all our needs.

autumn first-builds

We were a group of 4, Ed and Will being joined by Ayla and Rose, blessed by the company of such capable women. Together, we built a domed house, on stilts, that slept up to 10. It’s floor was made of 8 huge hazel hurdles, on ash and oak uprights, all lashed together with sisal twine.

3-weave-platform2

making the floor

The dome on top was woven of hazel rods, bent over a low upright frame, to maintain headroom inside and to allow window-fitting. The skip-reclaimed windows were cobbed into the frame, to keep the wind from whistling through gaps.

warm-interior

warm interior

It worked brilliantly, well-insulated by slabs of straw from a local farmer, which was layered between the ex-army canvas roof, the woven hazel rods, and the blanket inner-layer (for colour, warmth, and to stop straw falling down).

us in zone

us there

We were helped massively by the loan of a weighty iron wood-stove, and the three fallen ash trees which sat within 2 minutes of our camp. The first 3.5 months were done without the aid of power tools – ax, bow saw, and hand-drill only. This was difficult during the -18 degree periods, but at least ensured that getting wood kept us as warm as burning it.

basketeers 2010

basketeering

Other things enjoyed over the winter included: small individual houses built on the side; a bicycle generator; fermenting mead; collecting birch-sap; making stools and chairs; carving spoons; rug-weaving; cob-making; fishing; tracking otters, hares and foxes; cooking all food on wood fire; yurt-making; building a compost loo; sourdough bread-making; basket-making; hurdle-making; bow-making; Mongolian wrestling; dog-sledging; hitchhiking; singing in local care-homes, churches and pubs; local schools and other visitors; and plenty of walking.

Christmas sing-it-up

Christmas sing-it-up

See our arrival;

See the house being built;

See more house-building;

See the snow and ice;

See our spoon-carving expert guest, Barney Spoon;

See our hurdle-making expert guest, Hopper;

See our bicycle generator;

See our compost loo;

See our folk-singing super-guest, Sam Lee;

See us singing with visiting Ginger;

See what we learned of Sourdough bread-baking;

See us taught to bodge a 3-legged stool;

Meet our new puppy, Holly;

See other musicians met during winter;

See an incredible local project, Mellowcroft;

See Spring arriving;

Meet our friend Ryan;

See various winter photos;

 

 

February 2009 till October 2009

Canterbury – St Davids Walk (eight months)

Will Ed Gospel Pass 2009

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We set off as a three, and after a few months we became two, gaining and losing Ginger as a companion in a few swift months.

small-John-Lawrence-05

3 on the south downs

06-3-boys-surrey

3 in Temple of Winds

Even as a three, preparation was frenetic. We took on too many tasks and were dreadfully unfit on leaving. The album was recorded in this period, the website launched and filled with info, and some 60,000 words of a book were drafted. We also had to acquire, design and pack all our walking kit, which we were determined should be pared down to the very minimum.

So in mid February, we set off from Kent, to walk westwards.

small-ed-photo-scurvy-grass-motoway4

looking around

We enjoyed some exciting publicity, and tried to keep the website flowing. But we had made insufficient plans, and found our computing couldn’t keep up with feet and songs. The album we recorded was never quite released, despite continual threats to do so.

Singing in Frampton Court

What to say of this 8 months…there’s a book in it we’re sure…we hedged, and ditched, and made cheese, and coppiced, and bar-kept, babysat, washed-up, tree-planted, fed animals,  got sick and injured, flooded, lost, wet and cold, we made radio and tv and newspaper articles.

Ed Will Llantony 2009

Llantony Abbey, Cymru

We sung for care-homes, toddlers’ groups, churches, pubs, walkers, witches, boy-scouts, ambassadors, tramps, Sir David Frost and Mickey Miller (from Eastenders).

Ed Clare Balding Will Avebury 2009

with Radio 4 and Clare Balding in Avebury

Sir Frost Ed Will Somerset 2009

us and dave

We sung in cathedrals, tombs, hollow trees, wells, springs, in wells, monasteries, post-offices, pubs, haunted houses, manor-houses, shops, caves, quarries, castles, for stag-dos, funerals, festivals, hill-forts, fetes, fairs, anniversaries and birthdays.

Ed Will Wye Valley 2009

we sung here

We were given maps, razors, candles, knives, scarves, a whole Christmas cake, rare incense, massages, books, fishing kits, vegetables, leftover lunches, road-kill, new stretches, tears, kisses, threats, and a real diamond. We were offered (but did not accept) stolen cars, various drugs, some women, a record contract in a pub, and the official position of bards (of somewhere really good).

Ed Merlin Will 2009

meeting new old friends

Will Ed Romsey 2009

playing the crowds

We took a bicycling holiday in the middle, to go and meet friends for midsummer, some 150 miles out of our way, which meant taking on the hills of south Wales with 3-speed fold-up bikes (which broke en route). We stumbled into a cancelled festival’s relocation event, a mile up the road from where we’d walked to, and stood amazed as many old friends rolled up as though to greet us.

Bradford Songs

good old songs

We stayed with manic alcoholics, top lawyers, mercenaries, chainsaw-carvers, artists, poets, singers, landlords, sheep-dog trainers, and pagans on remand. We were flooded out in Welsh caves, losing electronics and papers in the flash floods.

This journey challenged our hopes, and showed us how difficult, slow and bloody can be the road to a dream. Our internet instant communication methods did not work, and we almost broke under a self-imposed expectation to communicate our journey. We wrote many, many words, and took thousands of photos.

Forest of Dean 2009

on the slow path somewhere

When we finally arrived in Dewi Sant (St Davids), we were limping and very tired. The glory of arrival swiftly faded into the mystery of what to do next. We borrowed (better) bicycles, with the aim of briskly riding home, but this ambition faded after 200 miles and a new set of unwarranted strains. So we shuffled onto a train, and headed back to make the winter (above) happen.

in St Davids, between rains...

Dewi Sant

An odd journey, and it taught us much. We were nearly stopped for good, but thankfully our innate stubbornness, and desire for grace, meant we vowed to continue with all possible improvements factored in, toward a future journey that mirrored more closely the goals we nurture.

See some of our strange press triumphs;

Hear our radio 4 documentary;

Listen to a mid walk podcast;

See us singing outside a pub;

See cut-out toys a nice man made of us;

See a small woodland tumble;

See boy scouts sing and dance;

See a journey blog;

Hear a song in an acoustic hotspot;

See some historical journey trivia;

See Will get ill;

See an en-route woodland shelter;

See a good farm we encountered;

See a friendly plant we met;

See another friendly plant;

Hear a Crowborough man’s ww2 stories;

See where we’d sung after 5 weeks of walking;

See us sing in a market;

See a short animation of us;

 

December 2007

Oxford to Glastonbury – The Ridgeway Walk

Ginj Ed Will Oxford 2008

above the Thames

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This was a walk that took us from Oxford, where we were visiting close friends, to Glastonbury, where more friends and gigs awaited us. We took the Thames path southwards to join the Ridgeway, said to be the oldest pathway in Europe, running east to west, at one time joining Norfolk and Cornwall.

As a three, this journey was a new experience, with Ed and Ginger and Will trying out their walking compatibility. It seemed to work, with many exciting meetings and discoveries. We had no worries about trying to keep any websites updated.

We met the inventor of CAT scanning magnets, and stayed in his feudal manor. We met Wayland’s Smithy, the White Horse of Uffington, Avebury stones, various publicans, ghosts, school-children, anarchists and spurned lovers.

will and ginger

There was busking, in each town through which we passed, as well as many meetings with new friends. It was winter, so we encountered hailstorms and rough weather, but the path was wide and usually skirted by woodland to shelter in.

On arriving in Glastonbury, we made local radio, and sung a swiftly penned town-fair radio jingle down a phone, which reportedly brought people in from local towns. The gig we were walking for was really good fun, a massive raucous celebration of winter folk music.

gig with Martha Tilston

MORE

See the gig review;

See a brief synopsis;

See an even briefer synopsis;

See a video of our between walk activities.

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September 2006 – June 2007

Canterbury-Cornwall-Somerset Walk

Ed Will Dorset 2007

Dorset-way

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This was our first big journey, and we set off naive to the world we would encounter. We had a handful of traditional songs we’d learned, and no experience of singing them in public. We carried a single page road map of Britain, from which we attempted to navigate clear of major roads and dreary towns.

We soon learned that South England is made of communities and people, with little natural wilderness. So the songs multiplied, the daily busk became instituted, and we started roaming with intent.

Will Ed Winchester 2007

in winky town

Many adventures, teachings, meetings and new experiences followed. We started gathering wild-food for every cookpot, learning which leaves and berries could help us walk more healthily.

towers of rest

We stayed in monasteries, boats, stables, barns, woodlands, football fields, chapels, railway carriages, in moats, porches, skittle alleys, gardens, parks, manors, car-parks, moors, hedges, islands, tombs, teepees, yurts, tents and caravans. We were loaned a donkey and cart for three weeks, for an introduction to animal travel.

Dominingo Ed 2007

Dominigo the donk

We learned many songs, and sung them everywhere, in schools, care-homes, churches and pubs. We found Britain had a voracious appetite for these traditional songs, especially when delivered on a long walk. It was a very exciting discovery for us.

Abbotsbury 2007

chapel sleeping

From Canterbury we reached Lands End, and we carried on. Back along to Somerset was our final destination, where a festival, and friends, carried us home to rest.

But what we mostly felt, following this journey, was a compulsion to continue, to keep walking, to make more journeys better. And we felt most keenly our lack of ability to share what we discovered, a train of thought that led circuitously to the very website you are reading now.

the unfolding path

See a documentary of this walk;

Read the Permaculture article;

See a monastery in which we stayed;

See us playing ankle-tap in Kernow;

See our reflections on travel;

See our musings on folk-song;

See a book review written en route;

See a fantastic plant-knowledge resource we met;

See herbal medicines we used;

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October 2004

The Pilgrims’ Way (1 month)

this way

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We were youngsters, just 22 years apiece, when we set off on this adventure. Will had been searching for a way to factor experience and reality into his university dissertation on Chaucer and pilgrimage. Ed had been longing for a deep delve into impassable forest and mountain. Together we realized the possibility of walking this most ancient of routes.

Ed Will 2005

young chaps on a stroll

With sweaty plastic kagouls, backpacks full of books and home-baked bread, with no tents or ponchos, poor footwear, and an 1895 guidebook to lead us onward, we set off.

We were waylaid dreadfully by seeking the promised ferry-man across the Medway, whom only the very oldest locals could recall. Our efforts to follow the route written led us into unmapped industrial estates, rubbish tips, and barbed wire boundaries.

Will Ed Ginj 2005

exuberant youth, and a visit from Ginger

Our first night was spent sleeping close by the walls of Winchester Cathedral, as the lamps which typically glorify the walls with sodium orange were being repaired. So a mere metre from the grave of St Swithin, we lay.

This initial journey, though short and uncomfortable, taught us much of pilgrimage, which we found to be very much living, and well-respected even today.

We also learned of hospitality, and of the perceived potential threat of wanderers. Both things surprised us, as we had no idea people would invite us into their homes, and share their shelter and hearth, just as we had no idea that people would dislike us solely by reason of our transience.

This short journey was the germ that led to all our present and future endeavours. We recommend it as a short manageable walk. But be sure to consult modern mapping.

no threat here

See a summary of this journey;

See our Chaucerian point of view;

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