The Original Social Distance’r?: My Take on Wainwright, Physical Activity, and Social Distancing

Wainwright, the Lake District, and COVID-19 are the inspirations for my blog this month. I am sat in the glistening March sun of Lancashire reading Wainwright’s The Western Fells (originally published in 1966).

British Library reference:

The layout of the entries, style of writing, and personal philosophy really resonate with me. It has me pondering about how in this modern moment we can up-cycle and create good habits about being physically active and socially distancing. Here are my viewpoint and ideas.

Just last week Parkrun was suspended, the National Trust has closed its gates, and the Prime Minister is releasing more and more social distancing measures. On the one hand we are in the serious midst of a Pandemic and we need to respect the social distancing and self isolating regulations. On the other hand, how can we protect our sources of physical activity, positive energy, and social connections?

This conundrum, ever-changing circumstances, and my own thoughts have brought me right back to A. Wainwright. In this moment can we take a leaf out of the Lake District explorer’s book and re-frame some of the current negative narratives about social distancing and self isolating. Although absolutely necessary, for most of us this is a very containing and frightening shift to our daily routines. My thoughts then are about being more whimsical and creative… a sort of ‘COV(ID)entures’ and ‘responsible living’ … as I try to find mechanisms to still be active and stay connected.

In the coming weeks I am therefore going to log my physical activities in an A. Wainwright manner, based on three principles:

  • Natural features: the type of activity I am doing, any notable flora/fauna or points of interest, then the positives and negatives of my jaunts (starting point: parks and recreation in Warrington);
  • Map: description of my route, any views/features e.g. the other day I walked past a fascinating canal path sign produced by the Canal and River Trust;
  • Illustrations: use my phone, drawing, diagrams, internet posts, links to histories, Twitter hashtags (maybe even a TikTok) etc. to reflect and post about my physical activities.

This is very a off-the-cuff social/personal experiment. I’m going to #Wainwright my way through the foreseeable future as a way to respect and honour the new living regulations, but also keep my mental and physical health positive and fulfilled.

If you fancy doing the same then please join and touch based, I would love to hear of your ‘COV(ID)entures…’ And like A.Wainwright says in the passage below, it is friends, family, and strangers that that help to make a “long and lonely way” easier to navigate:


Watch out for posts from me on social media… if there are none, then also give me a prod!

Happy self isolating and social distancing, and stay safe everyone… this is a serious and dangerous time (and it is impacting people very close to me), but we need to stick together and find ways to function and thrive.


p.s. if you need me I will be either doing my PhD amendments or perfecting TikTok videos…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.