Clare Balding’s Ramblings

Update: ultimate Ramblings: Geoff Nicholson, 20 Oct 2016

Ramblings is an R4 programme hosted by national treasure Clare Balding, broadcast since 1999.

It’s quintessential R4 and prone to well, rambling, as Clare gets into conversation with her fellow walkers. I’m not entirely sure how much specialised clothing is involved – probably varies.

I’ve hurled the programme into my feedreader and bookmarked the archive to see where it takes us – see the #ramblings tag. I’ve also stuck #R4Ramblings into Hootsuite, although also need to keep an eye on the rather more random #ramblings. Update, Dec 2013: I’ve now listened to the entire archive of 100+ podcasts. I’m still no wiser as to the definition of a #ramble, but it was fun!

Each series has a theme – a possible taxonomy? In the current series (24) Clare is walking in search of new places, new people and new experiences – how apt!

27 June: Tara Bariana recalls his long walk home to India. Last one of the series – back in the autumn.

Clare walks on Cannock Chase with Tara, who recalls his 19 month walk home to the Punjab in 1995.

20 June: West Highland Way from Balmaha

Clare walks a section of the West Highland Way with twin sister ultra runners.

13 June: In search of the old ways

A ‘linear walk’ with Robert Macfarlane in Cambridgeshire’s Himalayas. Walking became a leisure activity rather than a necessity in the late 1800s, however pedestrian was still a bit declasse compared to chivalry/horseback. Wayfaring and walking clubs became popular (see Penguin comp), with anthologies of poetry and prose, although there was also a darker side with the Old English Brigade in search of Englishness. Does UKIP walk?

Walking as a special way of seeing, connecting with the landscape both familiar and unknown/challenging. The Cambridgeshire landscape can be considered uncharismatic if typical of contemporary England, and it has taken a long time for Robert to learn to read it and love it – you need to learn to love your place.

The walk explores the old ways, a network of footpaths, long, beckoning lines forming gates and portals into the landscape, the stage for eg a couple with a black spaniel walking between their legs. Wide paths created before the 18th century parcelling up of the land by enclosures (qv, also Connemara) and hedgerows, creating a partitioned version of the landscape (something about DK?).

Creates the mapping of our lives – interior landscapes and landscapes we travelled through, personal landscapes, as individual as we are, in our mind as well as in front of us. We all have our heartlands.

6 June: George Monbiot in search of the wild

George has a new book out, Feral: searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding – here’s the short version. Obviously endorsed by me, but rather earnest.

30 May: In search of love

Waterproof trousers alert! another group walk “like a map of a relationship”, rather too Home Counties for me, plus rather too much about leaders and being in charge; OTOH might have to research GPS machines; the walk in question was 8.5 miles.

23 May: Chilterns American Women’s Club hiking group

This was fun, being an expat myself; the particular type of international women here were almost exclusively Anglo Saxon professional wives; a jarring note where one mentioned British reserve as a barrier to friendship – just try DK!; note to self to look for DK expat walking groups to not join…

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