A living museum

The ‘Way’ plays a central part in the television series Larkrise to Candleford. It is the ever-present friend that provides the backdrop to the entire story, whether it is surrounded by the wholesome green of summer, covered in shades of brown and yellow of autumn, or painted with the pale watercolours of winter.

The path is the umbilical cord that ties Larkrise to Candleford. Without it there would be no drama. No comings-and–goings. No Larkrise to Candleford.

South Cotswolds Ramblers walking near the set of BBC's Larkrise to Candleford, OxfordshireSo why start this blog by talking about a television series that depicts a way of life that is so distant from our modern world?

No matter how much it is part of the past, it is also part of our present. When we walk a path, we walk in the footsteps of the ghosts of those who have come before us - and those who are still to come who will follow in our footsteps.

I find this to be one of the joys of walking. However, these are not just the thoughts of one sentimental walker who gets to blog about them; they are constantly reflected time and time again by those who write about walking and paths.

This rich heritage is something we all cherish. We were recently asked, by one of our volunteer path teams, for a grant to do some work on the footpath that links the real Larkrise to Candleford, in Oxfordshire. The group involved explained that people come from all over to walk the path. Even schools in London had sent students to walk the path because of its historical links.

Of course it’s not just the Larkrise to Candleford path that is steeped in history.

I remember the first walking trip I went on was to the Isle of Wight; my friend and I walked round the island. Incidentally this was the first time I had become aware of the Ramblers after we stopped to pass the time of day with a group going the other way round.

South Cotswolds Ramblers walking near the set of BBC's Larkrise to Candleford, OxfordshireAs we continued along the path, it struck me how it was like walking through a time machine. One minute we were walking through the stomping ground of Baryonyx or Pelorosaurus and the next minute we were walking in the footsteps of smugglers or walking past the houses of kings and queens.

That’s why historic paths are so important. They don’t just provide a linear route from A to B but they entwine the people and places - and their history together.

Historic paths are like a living museum, but their stories keep growing and changing as more feet pass over them. This of course is why the ‘Don’t lose your way,’ campaign, to make sure historic paths are not lost, is so important and it’s brilliant to see more and more people engaged with it.

Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if the next generation was unable to enjoy the pleasure of going for a walk, rich in history and heritage, because the path wasn’t on the map by 2026. If you agree please support our campaign to protect historic paths.

Ed Wilson is the volunteer support and development officer at the Ramblers. You can read his previous blogs and follow him on twitter @Ed1983.