Transport troubles, limited freedom to roam and knowing where to go: the many barriers to accessing Great British walking


Ingrina was born in Los Angeles and sees Britain as a comparatively easy place to go walking. All is not well however; on a walk from Sevenoaks to Tonbridge, she reflects on the barriers that can prevent people from accessing walking in Britain.

For although the British walker is more likely to be able to hop on a bus to a walking route than their American counterpart, we face our own problems. All land in the country is privately owned, and only around 8% is free to roam. Pedestrians are made to feel unwelcome in large swathes of the country, where, as in America, vehicles dominate the landscape. Train travel is expensive, complicated, full of logistical and literal hurdles.

Barriers to access exist too within our own minds. Ingrina reflects on this too; from gear to navigation, there is a significant amount of knowledge needed to walk with ease. Even knowing local walking routes that don’t require overnight stays, or knowing the public transport connections to those routes, can be a limiting factor.

This is a relatively long read (beautifully laid out using ArcGIS StoryMaps), but Ingrina’s depth of knowledge is such that we may publish some excerpts as seperate stories. If you’d prefer to read the piece in the context of trail-blazing a Slow Way, however, read it below or via this direct link.

Ingrina Shieh

Ingrina Shieh loves exploring places and connections on foot, particularly by backpacking and wild camping. Her writing dives into what walking teaches us about ourselves, each other, and our environments and the fun we can have with slow travel discoveries. Her volunteering focuses on promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in the outdoors, and she is currently working towards a Mountain Leader award.