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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, June 03, 2007
    My first purchase of a Sunday paper for some time today, drawn to The Observer by the promise of a 32-page City Walks supplement. Promoting the idea that on-foot exploring can open up realms of discovery in the previously-overlooked parts of our urban areas, and citing Bob Gilbert's seminal The Green London Way as an inspiration Pas Paschali's introduction only fails at the last when he feels the need to suggest that 'urban walks could be seen as a first step towards more ambitious walking, in the countryside, or on national trails'.

    That depends, Pas, on your definition of 'ambitious', but I won't dwell on that. Oh, well, except to say that the first route in the supplement invites the walker onto an 8.5km journey linking the Shankhill Road with the Falls Road, with Paschali breathily promoting the area as an 'open-air free museum' of The Troubles. Hardly needs saying that ten, fifteen years ago, walking that route would have been ambitious, for all sorts of reasons, and that today many contrary-ambitious walkers find sites of urban conflict to be fertile territory.

    Everything in the Sunday papers has a promotional tie-in of course, and this supplement, which I'll carry on my M62 walk to guide me through the sanctified urban-tourist (neo-tourist? uber-tourist? gucci-tourist?) routes in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, was really designed to encourage readers to subscribe to www.walkingworld.com which is an online repository of over 3500 walking routes, urban and rural, from all around the country. Pay them the odd sum of £17.45 and you get a year's worth of online info at your fingertips. I was persuaded quite easily, once the walkingworld search engine brought up six pretty interesting M62 related walks, plus a few around Saddleworth and some which will help connect me on my travels between East Hull and North Cave (source of the M62). And this one here, under the M60 in The Mersey Valley.