Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
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.”

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

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

‘Hypocritical and unacceptable’: Leading climate academics call out Bristol Uni for accepting fossil fuel funding

Bristol University is an institution famed for its world-leading climate research. But over recent years it’s taken £3m from oil, gas and mining companies.

‘You needed young people’: how one man nurtured a community on an east Bristol allotment site

Tenants of Bristol’s sought-after allotments are pushing back hard on council proposals to hike fees. But back in the 1980s, plots in Eastville at Royate Hill were unloved and at risk – until Mike Feingold took custody of the land.

Local experts condemn Sunak’s draughty homes U-turn as likely to cost lives

Last week, the government announced it would not be raising the minimum energy efficiency standards of privately rented properties – which will leave thousands of renters living in cold homes.

Bristol’s flood defences are being pushed to their limit. What is the city’s long-term plan, and will it be enough?

The council is searching for an extra £100 million to fund future flood defences to protect low-lying areas of the city. While residents call for greater action, the Cable looks across the North Sea to Rotterdam for inspiration.

Urban growers are quietly laying the ground for a food revolution. Can it become a reality?

Growing fruit and veg close to home is better for our health – and could help keep us fed when climate change disrupts supply chains. Could doing more of it provide a secure, affordable, and sustainable way of meeting Bristol's needs?

Campaigners ‘marry’ River Avon as battle against water sewage pollution continues

Since the mayor’s decision in November not to grant special status to a popular swimming spot, sewage has been discharged into the Avon for the equivalent of 35 days.

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