A view over Dartmoor on a descent into Exmoor, with a view of the sea and a mighty fine campsite
“A journey of 2,200 miles is achieved with with each individual step,” said someone or other, “and by ticking off each Slow Way on the National Park Trail.” This week, we spoke to Steven Krambeck, aka YouTuber Lord Spink, who is now into week three of ticking off each route as he slowly but surely makes his way around the entire trail.
Steven posted on our feedback forum to let us know he was going to be attempting the mammoth National Park Trail challenge, a Waylist put up by Slow Ways founder Dan Raven-Ellison. Dan posted the Waylist to show that, in theory, it’s possible to walk through every National Park in Britain (and several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) as well as walk between them, all on Slow Ways routes. The main goal of the Waylist is to get every route on it verified so that the Trail exists, so it was a welcome surprise when Steven popped up to let us know he’s going to try and walk it all in one (very) long walk.
As he goes, Steven posts a video of his progress each day on his YouTube channel. He’s also leaving reviews on each segment as he goes, so he’s going to contribute to a big chunk of the network as well. I spoke to Steven to ask him about how it’s going so far, and below I selected his favourite route so far as our Review of the Month. His writing style is, as you can see, short and sweet, but with a few nice photos and usually some information about nearby camping options.
South Molton to Simonsbath
19 August 2023
One of the most rewarding routes on the trail so far! The Tramway has plenty of foraging opportunity if you know what you’re doing. As you reach the peek of Exmoor, on a clear day, you can see Dartmoor all the way from where you walked.
Then you head down a breathtaking valley into Simonsbath.
How’s the fitness? It seems like by the end of week two you’d become a walking machine.
The first few days my backpack was really digging into me, but now I hardly feel it til I’ve done about half the day’s walk, which is now usually around 15-20 miles.
Where are you now?
I’ve just finished the coast to coast and am resting in Porlock.
Are you able to take many rests on this journey?
I usually only stop for a while if I get chatting to someone I really get along with.
Do you speak to many people?
I only really speak to people when I’m in towns and pubs. In between, there’s a lot of time walking by myself.
In one of your videos, you ran into a music festival in South Zeal and stayed a while. You weren’t feeling so sociable then; do you think walking is improving your social muscles too?
Definitely: I was once a very sociable person, but for the last couple years I’ve been quite a hermit, staying indoors. I got so skinny. But after a week of walking every day I could feel my strength improving already, and yeah- my social muscles have grown too! I’ve come out of the shell I’d crawled into the last few years.
So, what’s been the best section of the walk so far?
Arriving in Exmoor this week was fantastic. It was the South Molton to Simonsbath route, which I did after the sections which brought me through Dartmoor from Plymouth. There’s a big hill to pass over before heading down towards Simonsbath, and there was a fantastic view where I could see back over towards Dartmoor: it blew my mind to think, wow, I did all that! Then as I came down the hill I could see the sea – meaning I’d walked coast to coast, too – and there is a great campsite down here in Porlock where I can wash my clothes and stuff. Which is always a great bonus!
London is coming up on that trail. Will your London segment differ from your countryside adventures?
I’ve got a friend who helps me out with maps and such; they’re going to send me a preferred route for getting through it. It’s around fifty miles from one side to the other, so I’m hoping to marathon it in two or three days.
Have you got any tips for anyone thinking of doing a big walk?
Don’t worry about being physically or mentally prepared. As I’ve said, I wasn’t at all. But your body adapts quickly. I’d been a hermit for six to eight years, I’d say, and after a week, I’m walking twenty miles a day like it’s nothing.
You’re sticking to a tight budget. Have you any advice regarding equipment?
I was in the Scouts for years, so I’m used to using budget equipment! Unfortunately, I bought some good stuff from Amazon, but a lot of it got stolen from my doorstep. In the end, I went up to Millett’s where they were having a big sale and got everything I needed. So watch out for those sales and use what you’ve got if you can.
I’m in awe. Thanks Steven and keep up the good work!
Steven is walking the older version of the National Parks Trail at the moment, although recently we revised the Trail into a newer version based on volunteer feedback. Maybe you could follow in his footsteps on a few segments and “snail” a few routes?
And please do check his progress out on his Youtube channel and consider helping him along with a donation!
For more of our favourite reviews from Slow Ways volunteers, click here. Want to help us grow the network of verified walking routes? Sign up to walk and review Slow Ways. You can also join our community on on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.