Our journalism needs your support! Become a member
The Bristol Cable

Watch: The new documentary celebrating Bristol’s inner-city walks

The film profiles a grassroots project called Slow Ways which hopes to get more people walking further – with all the associated benefits.

Video

Since the UK’s first lockdown, many people have discovered or rediscovered the simple magic of walking, for social connection and physical and mental wellbeing.

In February 2020, a grassroots project called Slow Ways tapped into that by creating a network of urban and rural walkways that connect our towns, cities and villages. By that winter, 80,000 volunteers had registered to help walk and review more than 8,000 crowdsourced routes.

The success of Slow Ways has been celebrated in a new documentary short called The Forgiving Path, made by local filmmaker David Mathias, which follows three people on three walks in the Bristol area. He reached out to Slow Ways with the idea after being inspired by the organisation’s goal of “creating a cultural shift in people’s hearts and minds regarding the landscape”.

The documentary features the Bristol Steppin Sistas, a local walking group for women of colour which promotes diversity in the outdoors.

Sophie Brown, who enjoyed walking from a young age, set up the group: “I know walking does big favours for our wellbeing, so I thought to myself, it would be a good idea if we could form a walking group – to share the energy of nature with other women.”

Many of the Black women who ended up joining her had not experienced the nature surrounding Bristol before. But Sophie has encouraged many to join her – even though they hadn’t seen themselves represented in outdoor spaces and had initially feared that they wouldn’t be welcome.

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning

“The original plan was to focus on Sophie’s individual walking story, but so much of that is based on encouraging other women that it became natural to extend this showing the group she set up,” says Mathias. “It was a pleasure joining one of their walks around Kings Weston House and seeing the huge enjoyment the members received, while helping break down barriers and anxieties.”

David also follows artist Hazel Mountford on her journey from Bristol to her studio in Filton. She is thankful following an accident that she’s even able to get somewhere using her own two feet.

“The doctors said to me that the operation I had hadn’t been available five years ago and five years ago I would have lost my foot,” she says. “Those words always stayed with me, I think.”

Comments

Report a comment. Comments are moderated according to our Comment Policy.

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Can Kingsdown Sports Centre and Jubilee Pool be saved?

The public can still have its say on plans to close the two much-loved leisure centres.

Why Bristol Rovers have joined the campaign for football reform

English football is dominated by big clubs and billionaire owners. But calls for a fairer football pyramid are more prominent than ever.

Swimming in Bristol Harbour is possible. How can we make it happen?

We talk to Julien De Smedt, the architect behind Copenhagen’s first and best-known swimming harbour bath, and Johnny Palmer, founder of local campaign group Swim Bristol Harbour, about what it takes to make a harbour swimmable.

‘It’s like a pain that never goes away’ – Retiring Bristol Flyers basketball player Panos Mayindombe on racism in sport

Panos was 19 when he first experienced racism on the court. More than a decade later, he isn’t sure it’s any better.

Gasheads clash over club’s handling of Joey Barton assault charge 

Bristol Rovers go into pre-season friendly without Joey Barton, as club bosses try to dampen divisions over their handling of the controversial manager who has been charged with assaulting his wife.

Listen: Bristol Unpacked on kneeling at the Euros, and nurturing diverse football talent with leading local sports coach Rayan Wilson

Season 4 of Bristol Unpacked kicks off with a conversation with local sport coach Rayan Wilson, who has been involved in training amateur and elite athletes.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning