Walking in Confinement: Dorothy Wordsworth’s habits for irregular times

This past week has been a lesson for all of us in how to survive in enclosed spaces. The quietness of the world without as many cars, trains, or people seems at moments to be very loud – but there is also a sense of turning back, somehow, to a way of experiencing place and geography that’s mostly out of living memory: one where the local is magnified, because it’s all we can know for now. We are far from the first people to live in this kind of enclosure, and so past experiences have much to tell us about how to stay sane in this new world in which we find ourselves. How do we adapt so that, rather than feeling trapped, we can find ways to expand our…
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Serious Work: Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau is not as well-known today as she deserves to be. Born in Norwich in 1802, she has been recognised as Britain's first female sociologist, and she published widely across a formidable range of genres: essays, journalism, novels, economic and social histories, and travel writing. She travelled extensively, including to Europe and the Middle East, but it is her walking at home in Britain that provides one of her most enduring legacies. From girlhood Martineau enjoyed long walks and, in 1824, she undertook a month-long tour of Scotland with her brother James. They walked 500 miles. The experience was formative. She wrote home: 'Few people have seen Scotland to so much advantage as we did, for few have passed through its finest parts on foot. We were able to…
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One Woman Farming in the Hills

Andrea Meanwell with her upland herd. Photo: Bill Robertson. For me as a hill farmer, being in the hills is not an ‘escape’ or ‘a chance to breathe’, it is my everyday life. I’m lucky to have travelled to some far off places in my life, but nothing is as fascinating to me as my own farm. Noticing small changes every day as the seasons roll on is an endless source of interest. I have become reluctant to travel away from the farm because everything that interests me is right here. The farm is unusual in being in two National Parks, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Through the middle runs the M6 motorway and the main West Coast Railway line. Thousands of people travel through my farm every…
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‘What does it mean to be a woman outside?’

To begin the Women In The Hills blog, the network's three directors - Rachel Hewitt, Kerri Andrews, and Jo Taylor - all consider the question of what does it mean to be a woman outside. Kerri Andrews: "What does it mean to be a woman in the outdoors? Historically, as it would now, it depends on the woman. If you’d asked Elizabeth Carter, one of the eighteenth century’s greatest linguists, she’d have told you, as she did her friend Catherine Talbot, that being outdoors meant giving licence to her ‘rambling genius’. Carter loved to get up early to roam the countryside near her home in Deal in Kent, and set up an elaborate alarm bell, operated by the local sexton as he passed on his way to work, to ensure…
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Women in the Hills Network Launches

Press Release: Women in the Hills New network launches to rewrite what we know about the roles and experiences of women in the hills, and to identify barriers past and present, to improve female access to the uplands. A new AHRC research network has launched to discover the factors that hinder, and improve, women’s experiences of running, hiking and climbing in UK uplands. The network will produce a set of recommended interventions to enhance women’s access to outdoor leisure. In January 2019, UK fell-runner Jasmin Paris smashed male and female course records for the Montane Spine Race, a 268-mile non-stop winter race over the entire Pennine Way – and did so while expressing breastmilk at checkpoints. In 1878, climber Margaret Jackson forged a new route up the Dom, Switzerland’s second-highest…
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