Earlier in the year our Patreon supporters decided that the theme of this Edition (slightly delayed to make space for our special Edition: Ride the Change - Cycle to COP 26) would be Slowing Down. It’s a fitting theme, after a year of confinement and reflection, about so much more than moving slowly. And as expected, our contributors’ many interpretations have delighted and provoked.
Physical slowness is one form of slowness, but it attunes us to others. Adam Weymouth explores this idea in a meditation on the significance of pilgrimage in times of social change. Annie Voigt, more accustomed to adventuring quickly, introduces us to the gentle art of swimpacking. And we speak again to travel writer Nick Hunt about his latest book, Outlandish - a peripatetic investigation of four unlikely European landscapes and their glacial geographic and cultural undercurrents.
Photo: Annie Voigt (Annie Voigt's piece)
Photo at the top of the page: Kashif Afridi, Unsplash (Anam Hussain's piece)
Averting environmental catastrophe will require slowness. Slowness means burning less, noticing more and cultivating care. John P. Milton knows this more than most. He is a revered elder of the environmental movement, and one of the world’s leading practitioners of the contemporary vision quest: a ceremony of still, solitary communion with nature rooted in various indigenous cultures. Could it change us?
Other forms of environmental communion have more recent roots. Writer and campaigner Nick Rosen is an expert on off-grid culture and told us why the off-grid movement is about so much more than quiet escapism. More recently, Covid has forced new forms of communion. Poet Rob Cowen’s The Heeding - excerpted alongside a short interview - wonderfully captures this seemingly mundane but potentially profound cultural shift.
Slow adventure can provide the space to meet personal and political challenges, too. Simon Baxter’s photography is the astonishing result of a patient, life-changing relationship with local, typically overlooked woodland. It was a joy to speak with him about his work.
Photo: Simon Baxter (Simon Baxter interview)
Anam Hussain, a British-Pakistani journalist, is using slow adventure, and slow journalism, to creatively challenge violent stereotypes of Pakistan through an important new magazine. And Slow Ways’ fantastic work nation-sourcing a network of slow pathways criss-crossing the UK is a different challenge to the culture of speed. We caught up with Daniel Raven-Ellison about the journey so far.
Photo: National Parks Service and public domain (Ashli Blow's piece)
Slowness isn’t always good, of course. Although prevailing adventure culture is characterised by speed, like most cultures it can be slow to shift. This is perhaps the central theme in contemporary adventure storytelling. Ashli Blow tells it through the life of Alma Wagen, a formidable mountaineer who in 1923 became the first woman mountain guide at Mount Rainier National Park.
We could have filled this Edition ten times over. In homage to everything we don’t have space to cover, we close this Edition with a list of eleven incredibly thought-provoking perspectives on slow adventure. This piece will remain a Patreon-only piece. We hope you will consider supporting us so we can sustain and improve our storytelling at the intersection of adventure and social and environmental change.
We wish you a slow, adventurous festive season. See you on the other side!
The Adventure Uncovered Team
Slowing Down celebrates adventure stories swimming against the current of being fastest, best and first. It’s a fitting theme, after a year of confinement and reflection, and is about so much more than moving slowly.
Read all of Edition 13 below...
Ashli Blow is a Seattle-based freelance writer who talks with people — in places from urban watersheds to remote wildernesses — about how climate and social change is unfolding around them. She’s been working in journalism and strategic communications for nearly 10 years and is a graduate student at the University of Washington, studying environmental policy.
Born in Pakistan, raised in Germany and the United Kingdom, Anam Hussain is a diaspora journalist with Al Jazeera and a travel writer with Condé Nast. As the founder of Capra Falconeri Traveller, a print magazine with an online presence, Anam is challenging the negative stereotypes of her homeland Pakistan.
Adam Weymouth is a freelance writer and journalist living on the south east coast of England. His work has appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The BBC, The Atlantic and Granta. His first book, The Kings of the Yukon, tells the story of a four month canoe trip across Alaska, examining the decline of the king salmon and exploring how that decline is impacting on the many communities, and the ecosystems, which depend on it. It won both the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and the Lonely Planet/ Stanfords Adventure Travel Book of the Year.
Annie’s adventure career began with climbing, when she ticked off nearly every single “Mistakes to Avoid While Trad Climbing” box on her first outdoor trad climb. She survived, and went on to see what other Great Bad Ideas would not kill her. Her solo expeditions began with a kayaking trip, followed by a 3000km bike ride to the Nordkapp (Norway). Her latest Great Bad Idea featured running a solo 1000km ultramarathon from the lowest to highest points in Germany. Why was this a Great Bad Idea? She had started running only four months prior. Speaking of experiments: Annie is a trained biochemist currently working on her PhD in neuroscience, and the comic artist behind BotsAndBrainz.
Nick Hunt is a writer, storyteller and editor whose work explores the relationship between society and landscape. He is best known for three travel books. Walking the Woods and the Water, he retraces Patrick Leigh Fermor's epic walk from Holland to Istanbul. In Where the Wild Winds Are, Nick again sets out on foot, to trace four winds shaping European landscapes and cultures. Most recently, in Outlandish, Nick travels through four unlikely European landscapes. Nick also continues to edit the journal of The Dark Mountain Project, a cultural movement in search of stories that can help us respond to the climate emergency with a 'hope beyond hope'.
John P. Milton
John P. Milton is a pioneering ecologist, spiritual teacher, meditation master, vision quest leader and shaman. John's vision quest and shamanic work began in the mid 1940s, after experiencing his first vision quest at the age of seven. Since the 1950s, John has guided thousands of people into the wilderness, sharing with them experiences and practices that cultivate a profound connection with Nature and, ultimately, Source Awareness. Over the years, many have sought his profound transmissions and powerful yet gentle Qigong teachings, T'ai Chi Ch'uan training, and Sacred Passage programs.
Simon discovered his passion for woodland photography while exploring his local countryside in pursuit of solitude and the restorative power of creativity in nature. Recognising the therapeutic benefits of spending time in woodlands close to home, Simon has developed a unique connection and love for this environment, which is expressed through his thoughtful photography. Six years of his work has been curated for his debut book, 'Gathering Time', which is available through his website. Simon also shares his knowledge, relaxed approach to photography and explorations with his dog, Meg, on his popular YouTube channel and Instagram.
Lucinda Grange is an award winning English adventure photographer, currently split between New York City, Zurich and North-East England. She has traveled the world, scaling some of the tallest and most iconic structures and buildings. Amongst her list of climbs is the Great Pyramid, Firth of Forth Rail Bridge and the Chrysler Building. Lucinda has been published by MoMA, the BBC, New York Post, The Independent, The Guardian and exhibited in the Museum of London and the National Football Museum but to name a few. Lucinda uses photography as a means of self expression, to identify with the more obvious and hidden aspects of her character. She believes that a person is defined by their actions and choices, and are therefore defined by the environments they choose to put themselves in. This explains why Lucinda records her own surroundings, photographing the people and places she chooses to have around her.
Rob Cowen is an award-winning writer, hailed as one of the UK’s most original voices on nature and place. His book Common Ground (2015) was shortlisted for the Portico, Richard Jefferies Society and Wainwright Prizes and voted one of the nation’s favourite nature books on BBC Winterwatch. He lives in North Yorkshire.
Nick Hayes has published four highly acclaimed graphic novels with Jonathan Cape, including The Rime of the Modern Mariner, Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads and Cormorance. Each one in separate ways focuses on mankind’s relationship with the environment. As an illustrator he has produced numerous book covers including that for Lark by Anthony McGowan, which won the Carnegie Medal in 2020. He is also a printmaker and political cartoonist for the Guardian and New Statesman.
Dan is a parent, guerrilla geographer, National Geographic Explorer, Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion, and former geography teacher who led the campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City. Dan's work focuses on challenging himself and others to see the world in new ways, by combining creative exploration, geography and communication to tackle social and environmental challenges. Dan is currently working on a new project called “Slow Ways” – to collaboratively create a network of 7,000+ walking routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns and cities.
Co-Founder of Adventure Uncovered, James is an ex-Marketing Director, part-time photographer, volunteer, and writer, spending as much time as possible in the ocean or on mountains. He's obsessed with cabins, sustainability, and enjoys the intersectionality between human and environmental stories and challenging the status quo.