The Giants Tour: Part one: Kendal to Wakefield (10th April-17th April).
The Giants tour has begun! I have cycled for eight days from Kendal to Wakefield, telling giant tales and engaging with climate change. I’ve had some wonderful audiences and met inspiring people on the way.
The tour opened on Thursday 10th April with a performance of ‘Giant Killers’, the children’s show at Kendal Library followed by a performance of ‘Giants’. This took place at the beautiful Sprint Mill, two miles out of Kendal. The audience was engaged, involved and supportive. It was also large and thanks go to South Lakes Action on Climate Change Towards Transition for their promotion of the event. One of the highlights of the performance was including elements from the mill in the performance. Edward’s ‘Spannerphone’, a sort of xylophone made out of spanners, helped to create the soundtrack to two stories. A besom broom became a prop for the telling of the ‘Six Sisters and the Giant’.
The route has been cycle friendly and a pleasure to complete. From Kendal I followed National Cycle Route 6 to Lancaster and Preston, then cut west to Southport. From there I have –with one or two diversions- followed the Transpennine Trail through Liverpool, Manchester and Yorkshire. Route 6 was delightful: not only are the roads quiet and safe, like any route, once you’re on it, you can relax. All you need to do is keep an eye out for the route markers.
The Transpennine trail is based mainly on a series of old disused railway routes. I think Liverpool won the prize for clear signposts all the way into the centre. On the way to Manchester I followed the walk along the Mersey, went inland, crossed Sefton Park, skirted Calderstones Park, passed through Childwall and Halewood before approaching Widnes and open country.
The tour has seen performances at Lancaster’s Storey Centre, Manchester’s Friends Meeting House, Birstall Library in Kirklees and the Orangery in Wakefield. All were different but enjoyable and all the time the piece developed and changed, partly as a result of people’s feedback. In Lancaster there was a humorous atmosphere, almost like stand up. In Manchester the audience were great but I felt tired, having cycled from Liverpool that morning. One gentleman arrived one hour early and waited quietly whilst thumbing through a four inch thick copy of the IPCC report. Birstall library in Kirklees has ‘clients’ who are really interested in storytelling performances. It was there that I began my last tour of a piece called ‘The Boy Who Dreamed Only Ice’ and it was great to see familiar faces. A ten year old boy told me there that my singing was the worst part of the performance and so at the Orangery in Wakefield the performance was faster-paced and without its songs.
Then there have been the people I have met on the way. I wanted to connect with, and celebrate people who are ‘taking on the giant’ of climate change in their own ways. Many of these people put me up for the night. I met Edward and Romola at Sprint Mill, living in a way that is sustainable and low impact and talked to Chris about the work of South Lakes Action on Climate Change Towards Transition. At Lancaster I stayed at Lancaster co-housing, an attractive an low carbon community on the banks of the Lune in Halton. In Preston I stayed with students David and Bradley, involved in their local Greenpeace Group and, in David’s case, engaged as a ‘Green hero’ a the local branch of Lush. My Manchester hosts were Pete and Cat, a lovely couple involved in Manchester Friends of the Earth. I also visited Barton Moss anti-fracking camp, just before it was about to be packed away due to the end of exploratory drilling. From Manchester I left the trail for some miles in order to visit a community hydro project at New Mills in Derbyshire. In my home town I met with Janet from Holmfirth Transition Town at the site of the new community wind power project and the people involved in the Growing Newsome food project. In Sharlston near Wakefield, I was shown around the vast area of a recent open cast coal application, turned down by the council only two weeks earlier. Soon, I will put a separate post about these people and projects.
All in all, it’s been a great start! I’ve been lucky with the weather, have only got lost a few times and only had one puncture! The story has developed and, of course, the journey itself has been a story with many interesting characters. From here, after the Easter break I head out east and will end at Hull.