As we head into the final week before Christmas we just wanted to share some thoughts with you about the deeper and hopefully more impactful things that sit behind the core values of Camino. We have a couple of books that we recommend as last minute gifts - shout outs to our favourite small businesses and 2022/3 favourites for you to enjoy over the downtime period.
Final Camino Greenways Social December 2022 Pic by Camino Legend Gigi x
Getting Lost and Being Found:
When we created the Greenways challenge we thought long and hard about the type of information we would include in the packs about the navigation. It’s a big dilemma for us.
On the one hand we want to provide routes that are safe and accessible for most people of most abilities.
However one of our key philosophies is to help people get real life skills so that they can go on to tackle some really challenging trails and events.
Book Recommendation One: Wayfinding - The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way - Michael Bond
In this joyful book Michael takes us through the history of our ancestors and how they survived by building neural maps of their surrounding areas. It is believed that language flourished because we gave names to bearing points and we would help our neighbours find food or evade sabre tooth tigers by sharing all the landmarks of the terrain. The history of these are still prevalent in the wilds. If you head out for the weekend to the Peak District, Lakes, Brecons or beyond you could navigate by descriptions of rock formations and river shapes. In cosmopolitan cities like London it’s too easy to stay ‘on grid’ - follow the same paths - follow people and keep to the same recognisable routes.
What if you were told that you could stay mentally healthier for years longer if you kept drawing new maps in your brain- if you challenged yourself to be lost and get found. In the Lakes and Highlands this could be dangerous without following good mountain guide practices but in London it’s the perfect place to start (typically only a few minutes from some kind of supported transport)
In the Blueways we send you 12 routes over the year - most of these routes will be completely new to you. They are typically 10km long so you have ample time to ‘get a bit lost’ - be curious- maybe see something nearby and go and discover it. You could practice following the GPX we share with you - you could treat yourself to a real map - check out Ordnance Survey or Harveys - look at the route at home and make a few subtle notes about key points to look out for - then go and get lost + found.
In our Christmas December 2023 event we actually plan a completely new concept to include orienteering- plenty of support coming with this throughout the year.
When you have built up your skills and neural maps then think about joining us on The OMM .
The OMM is designed to test your abilities in the mountains. Anyone can get up Scafell Pike on a sunny day, but can you make good decisions when the clag comes in, visibility has gone, you’re tired, you’re wet, cold & there’s no paths to follow?
Held at the end of October to guarantee bad weather. To compete you’ll need a team mate, mountain experience & dogged resilience.
It’s all about decision making, what kit you’ll need, what route to take, how hard to push & what to do when you get lost… which you will.
It’s not easy, at times soul destroying, but the experience is unmissable!
Getting the young involved:
There’s a great chapter in the book about lost people. If a young person went missing what do you think are the normal things they would do in terms of navigation and distance? When you were younger what was the furthest you ever traveled away from home on your own? If you were a parent and you knew this was a powerful life lesson for your kid would you encourage them to go off-grid?
Michael Bond shares that children are born adventurers but they are not always given the freedom to follow those inclinations. The extent to which we are permitted to roam and push the boundaries of our worlds when we are young can profoundly influence the kind of adults we become.
In 2023 Camino will be looking to partner with London youth groups to give these trail x navigation experiences. In order to do this we need to continue to equip our community (through challenges like Blueways) to get the skills needed to pass on to others.
Excited to be working with London Run Clubs and LoveTrails summer festival (July 2023) and OutRunners on these initiatives.
Are you allowed to do that?
One of the most memorable events of this year for Camino was seeing the Outrunners at LoveTrails. In amongst all the curiosity and the never ending smiles of the kids( and the Run Leaders and Camino) there was a scene when a couple of kids were confronted by a local farmer. For those of us that have spent a lot of trail time getting lost and therefore possibly unintentionally trespassing on private land its maybe ok but if it’s your first time (in what had felt like a friendly environment) it can be quite shocking.
Book Recommendation Two
The Book of Trespass - Nick Hayes
I won’t go short on this one - this is possibly one of the most impactful and joyful books I’ve ever read. Nick is a local Bethnal Green dweller and in the chapters of his book he attempts to knowingly trespass on a different landlord’s property and through the dark and sinister history share with us the nightmare scenario of how little of this land we legally have access to.
The Right2Roam cause is growing and it’s definitely worth taking a look at their socials to see if you want to actively help. For Camino this is integral to us. Our ultramarathons rely upon a huge amount of authority approval - from land owners, police, canal authority to organisations like local angling clubs and events can be taken down for minor violations.
Epping Forest history is beautifully captured in Nicks book - if it wasn’t for National Trust founder Octavia Hill tireless campaigning a huge swathe of the Forest we use today would have been kept exclusively for hunting. We hosted our second Trail Taster day with Black Trail Runners this autumn in the glorious Orion Harriers run clubhouse which is situated in the heart of Epping Forest. Seeing runners experience forest trails for the first time and being able to start the navigation skills coaching as well as share about the history of the trails and the access we need to protect made it another powerful event.
For Camino the need to champion causes which could have a really positive impact is vital. When we first heard about East London Waterworks project we knew we had to actively promote, fundraise and ultimately give a percentage of the Blueways to the crowdfund.
ELW plan to save the old Thames waterworks plot from being turned into flats and instead be a community owned programme with natural open water swim spots. We desperately need your help with the following:
Share details of the project to people you feel might be interested - this is a great one for swimmers
Take it to your own company bosses - this is perfect CSR
Take a look at all the areas they need support with - this project needs more than just the money
If you want to know more about this project or anything contained in this blog then message us on firstname.lastname@example.org Save Small Businesses: This year has been a tough one for friends of ours who own or manage small businesses. One of the things we have loved the most these past three years has been the personal contact and supportive collaboration with these beautiful people (you know who you are). The fact that two businesses have disappeared and others continue to struggle is heartbreaking. Doing Epping Forest 50km without our partner friends wasn’t fun and we are struggling to find suitable replacements. We continue to try and build new ones - so if you are a small business and we can support each other then please reach out x EXHALE COFFEE:
We love Al, Kirsty, Kaspar and the Exhale Team. All of the best things that we do have Exhale at the heart of them.
You will always find us championing Exhale Coffee.
PLEASE do one thing and go and order yourself a bag of their coffee today.
If you love it (as we know you will) then tell others.
Let's get the butterfly effect working and let the world know just how incredible Exhale is xxx 2023 is looking positive. Many of you know that we aim to add a new event to our calendar- our own Dusk Til Dawn run. We are recceing a possible venue next week but are keeping our radar open for other suitable London locations where we can have a HQ, campfires and fun night-light times - we will be out on a recce of this next week folks
WATCH THIS SPACE.
Have a beautiful time these next few weeks and we look forward to welcoming many of you on the BLUEWAYS challenge x
BIG LOVE CAMINO xxx