From Batvic to Satcou, ex-geography teacher, author and creator of Georamblings, Kit Marie Rackley, creates poetry using Slow Ways names
Kit performed the poem during the Geographical Association Conference Teachmeet as a way to honour the achievements of the Slow Ways community. Have a read of the poem, followed by a short Q&A.
The Slow Ways Shout
(Dan Raven-Ellison: One of the tasks we had was to go through about seven thousand Slow Ways names and pick out the rude ones! And there were about two to three hundred names that were just so offensive – and not even just offensive, you know, almost like ‘Cards Against Humanity’ kind of like desperately, desperately disgusting sort of, like, ideas and words…)
Fear not you geography nerds
For thou shalt not be booming out obscenities
But what is this ‘Slow Ways’?
And what are these words of identities?
I came here today not by ‘Guirip‘
And missed the wandering barge
By train (a slow way of sorts!)
Dodging the masses that charge
But if I was to trudge onward from the node of Norwich…
‘Wymnor‘, ‘Mulnor‘, ‘Tavnor‘
While ‘Yarven‘ strikes across the Isle of Wight
Alone ‘Browhi‘ walks the Arran shore
Be these giants of old and legend
That strode and claimed terrain?
No, the likes of ‘Solhen‘, ‘Shiban‘ and ‘Salfor‘
Are paths across our domain
Let’s troop south from London Town
Nay! Not by tube, automobile or horse and cart
That won’t do!
Go forth! March from Victoria!
‘Batvic‘, ‘Batbri‘, ‘Stibri‘, ‘Mitstr‘, ‘Sutmit‘, ‘Satcou‘!
Such knights those trodden paths
Some littered with the signs of heroic struggles
With the night before
But an erie beauty if one looks 360
Such ways should be open to all
Gather your clan and welcome else all
In the valleys of the likes of ‘Binshi‘
Many paths doth yonder run
Rural, urban and in between
They intertwine with confluence in superior fashion
And in one way or another, green
Even in dense places
Right out your door…
(Helen Illus: I really wanted to see London. I travelled on my own, it was my first solo travel and my first night when I was there I went to Kensington Park, and the next morning as well. And I was stunned by the wildlife I saw!)
So open your ‘Gledor‘!
Embark on that hike you ‘Camfor‘!
No matter if it’s a bit ‘Chilea‘!
Trot over land to the ‘Sunsea‘!
Whether the path be flat and still
Or has you trudging up a ‘Brehil‘!
Whether to pass through or aim to ‘Stihay‘!
Go forth, discover your Slow Way
– Kit Marie Rackley (2022)
How did you find out about Slow Ways, Kit?
I’ve been following the work of Dan Raven-Ellison ever since I first met him in Manchester for the 2016 Geographical Association Conference where he talked about his travels and then plans for the London National Park City. When the Slow Ways project was announced I just had to get involved! So I helped out with potential routes and weeding out ‘inappropriate’ route names! Dan chatted to me more about Slow Ways for my Coffee & Geography podcast.
What’s been your most memorable Slow Ways journey?
I’ve walked the whole Ridgeway, and one of my favourite parts is the bit near Bishopstone in Wiltshire (Sixwil one). But I think one of the most enjoyable was walking part of Aylcro one with the family (partner and two young kids) from our wild camping spot to Blickling Hall. It was lovely getting away from all the technology and stresses of life!
What’s your favourite Slow Ways route name?
Anything you can make a pun out of! I was notorious with my puns when I was teaching high school geography! I’d say if you’re out on a walk and it’s getting a bit Chilea (Chipping Ongar—Leaden Roding), you should find a Gledor (Glenlivet—Dorenell Wind Farm) and Stihay (St Ives, Cornwall—Hayle) for a while!
Have you got any walking trips planned?
We’ve actually just come back from Wiltshire and did a bit of walking. But in the near future we fancy a hike to somewhere on the Norfolk or Suffolk coast. Perhaps not a whole Slow Way – since we’ll have little legs with us!
Header photo credit: Shaun Flannery
Kit Marie Rackley
Kit Marie Rackley (they/she) is an ex-high school geography teacher now freelancing as an educator, science communicator, author and consultant to organisations such as the Geographical Association and the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers. Geogramblings.com is their website and it’s definitely Geogramblings by name and nature as they love to walk and talk!