The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Just Like the Bradbury Effect?

When Julia Bradbury started skipping up the Wainwrights in Wainwrights Walks, suddenly the number of people visiting the featured fells increased quite notably.

When Julia Bradbury covered Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk (a week before Mick & I walked it in September 2008; she should have set out a week later as it rained the whole time for Julia and was perfectly dry for us) the number of people tackling the already-popular walk was forecast to soar.

Such is the power of television for putting ideas in peoples heads (and I’m in no way saying that’s a bad thing).

Yesterday morning Cannock Chase was busy. Probably not greatly busier than we’ve seen it before, but unusually so for a cold*, grey January day. Moreover, a significant number of the people we passed were clutching either maps or guidebooks, and that is even more unusual. Most people we encounter over there are striding around like they know where they’re going.

Is it the ‘must get out walking more’ New Year’s resolutions, we pondered.

Is it just a continuation of the rising popularity of Cannock Chase, we pondered further.

My favourite theory though is that the ‘Save Cannock Chase’ campaign (the need for saving stemming from the government’s proposed sell-off of our forests) has been receiving a lot of local radio and television coverage (and even a bit of national coverage) over the last couple of weeks. The Chase is already a popular place (and deservedly so), but it looks like the recent media publicity has encouraged even more to get out there and enjoy what it has to offer.

(*When I say cold, I mean COLD. That was some windchill yesterday! On the plus side, we were able to walk straight across some deep muddy wallows that have always previously required a diversion.)



  1. You’re doing yourself a disservice, never mind TV and radio it's obviously the M&G effect. Your wonderful depictions of Cannock Chase have got the crowds flooding in. You see, the next thing you will be doing a Wainwright and denying who you are :-)

  2. I do the 'striding around like they know where they’re going' bit on the Chase. After five seven-mile training laps I should know where I am! I am often asked for directions by people who have lost their way. I can't believe that the Chase could be privatised or access restricted. I am more concerned about more remote less frequently used forests, particularly in mid-Wales.

  3. Karl - Such flattery! However, the evidence of a lack of people greeting me by name when I'm walking over there would suggest that it's likely the media coverage that's doing it ;-)

    Mike - We also regularly get asked for directions (or more often 'do you know where we are?'). I imagine that you know where you are on your first lap, never mind the fifth! (makes our two laps last Saturday look a bit pathetic.) As for the Welsh forests, at least they should be safe for the time being. Fingers crossed for the English ones.