What If a Walk in the Woods Was – Illegal?

There’s a fascinating social protest going on in the UK now.

The movement is called “Right to Roam” and involves a wealthy landowner in Dartmoor who doesn’t want people walking and camping on the 4,000 acres of a national park he owns. The legal case has triggered a countrywide public outcry.

Walking across the moor to camp under the stars, leaving no trace, has been an ancient tradition in Dartmoor

Leave-no-trace walking and camping on private property is common across Scotland. The UK is criss-crossed with ancient trackways called “holloways,” sunken roads eroded by centuries of human, animal and cart traffic. These roads may have started as a pilgrimage path, a route to a seaport, a boundary ditch or a drovers’ trail for moving livestock.

Many are medieval but some are much older, dating back to the Iron Age

But now, little of the English countryside is available for hiking and picnicking without landowner permission. National parks, amazingly, are largely privately owned with restricted access – some only 10% open to the public. Most national lands in the U.S. are, by contrast, publicly owned, free to roam and wild camp, with some regulation.

Interestingly, the UK has been the leader in studies on the need for more Nature in our modern lives and programs to get children back outside, perhaps because of this lack of access to green space. Interesting to watch.

3 Resources for You: Right to Roam, Holloways and Airplane Mode

Books, articles, tips, tools and advice to help you unplug.

Right to Roam movement. A couple articles if you’d like to read more:

“Holloway” by Robert Macfarlane, Dan Richards and Stanley Donwood. I discovered Macfarlane about six years ago, was immediately smitten and bought all his books. He explores human interaction with the natural world and how each one shapes the other.  A Cambridge author, he elegantly weaves together human and natural history with science and stunning prose.

The best, simplest productivity app is already on your phone. I’ve recently come across quotes from two tech founders, Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) and Noah Kagan (AppSumo), who rely on airplane mode to eliminate screen distractions. What is Airplane Mode? My phone is always on silent, do not disturb or focus mode. But this one-sided control only shields me from hearing incoming texts or calls. It doesn’t prevent me from checking email and texts, using apps etc.  Airplane mode disconnects your cellular voice and data connection, so you can’t repetitively check without shutting it off.

2 Questions for You: Could You Extend Your Walking Range?

Reflections, questions and ideas to consider to break the digital impasse.

1st Q: Many folks aren’t interested in walking in their neighborhood because they don’t want to walk streets they drive routinely. What if you drove 5 minus to walk? Or 10 minutes? What new worlds could you discover? In 10 minutes I could be on a backwoods trail in Gorges State Park, which I’ve only walked once. It’s time!

2nd Q: What was your most memorable walk? On vacation? Nearby? With whom? Think about what made it so special. How can you repeat or replicate one special part of that walk?

Reflection Feedback

From Viraj: Your newsletter has motivated me to do 2 things:

  • Undertake a visit to a national park nearby – I’ve been procrastinating for some time. In fact, I am planning to make it a ritual. Let’s see how it goes. Wish me well.
  • Review my screen and social media presence. I am already deliberate about it but totally aware that it is a slippery slope if one is not mindful.

From Alex: On Facebook the site I visit most frequently is the private group for my apartment community. I spend about 10-20 minutes per day finding out what’s going on in the community. Unfortunately, it’s mainly complaints about the co-op management company’s poor performance. 

It’s helpful to get those community updates on Facebook. But I spend very little time actually interacting with my neighbors in person. I’ve realized lately that I should arrange more social activities with those friends and acquaintances. Maybe host a cocktail party or work with them to arrange some kind of gathering for the entire building. 

1 Action for You: Walk Somewhere New This Week

One small step to start the change.

Google [walking trails near me]. Using Google maps, figure out the time and distance. Could you do a short walk this week to change up your environment and (likely) your perspective on your neighborhood and mood? Bonus: Use airplane mode while you’re out. 😉

Window on the World

Amazingly, studies show that looking at photos of Nature calms your mind, reduces stress and increases concentration. I’m happy to share my view with you!

Don’t forget: Beautiful sunsets need cloudy skies… ~Paulo Coelho