We slept in Leicester, spread out around the city in our generous hosts’ houses. This sleeping arrangement brings with it the luxury of a comfortable bed and a chance to get to know local activists and their struggles but it does add some logistical challenges for getting away early in the morning – what with meeting in a central point and making sure everyone’s bags are packed in the van. We started the walk in central Leicester, crossing the historical part of the city. Leaving Leicester to the north we joined the canal that passes through Watermead Country Park, walking along the canal towpath. It was a beautiful morning brightened by the many encounters with ducks, swans and geese that make their homes along the canal.
We left the canal to pass through several small towns. In Mountsorrel local activists were waiting for us with a wonderful piece of artwork. This featured a whale and its baby made out of willow, mounted on a bike and filled with rubbish from the River Soar where the artist, Nita Rao, lives on a houseboat. This moving artwork highlights the pollution of our waterways and seas with products derived from oil.
As a group we marched along roads until we reached Loughborough. Beside a church we took photos with the vicar under a banner declaring the climate emergency. After that we were invited for lunch in a community café. Local residents had created a fine dreamcatcher, with messages such as the following: ‘Can’t you hear the future weeping. Our love must save the world’.
After lunch, we had about a third of the way to go to finish the stage. The road was windier and didn’t always have a pavement, making us feel more eposed and slowing us down slightly. When we arrived in Ruddington we were treated to free, local, craft beers from the amazing Bottle Top, which sells a huge selection of beers and plenty of zero-waste products. After that we went for dinner and to sleep in Nottingham at the Sumac Centre.
The Sumac Centre is a volunteer-run social and community space that provides comunal meals, hosts social clus and also provides resources and a meeting space for groups and individuals working to promote social justice, environmental awareness, peace and animal rights. Here, we received foot and shoulder massages, ate a delicious vegan dinner and had the chance to exchange songs with the many local members.
Written by: Luis Alejos.