The story behind the Fair Trade Way
“Today, as on all previous days of the twenty-first century, almost 1 billion people will go hungry, 20,000 children will die from preventable health problems, 1,400 women will die from causes associated with maternity that are easy to diagnose and treat, and more than 100 million primary children will not attend school. Every day, in this affluent world, hundreds of millions of people experience forms of deprivation that inflict suffering and reduce or terminate their future prospects of having a good life and being productive. Our grandparents could claim that global poverty was inevitable – there was simply not enough resources, nor the technology to transform resources, to meet the needs of all the world’s people. They may not have been correct, but this is not a claim that we can make. Today the world has enough food for everybody to be fed. The resources and technology to provide basic services – primary education, health services and even cash transfers are available. The problem is our world is organised in such a way that around 1.5 to 2.5 billion people (depending on how you define poverty) have little or no access to the most basic of human needs. This can be seen as a problem of global governance”. (David Hulme writing in Global Poverty, published by Routledge 2010)
The heart of the problem is unfair trading systems. Supporting Fairtrade is one way that those who are fortunate can ensure that our relative wealth does not come at the expense of those who produce the resources we consume. In the same way that slavery is now seen as an unacceptable way to prosper, unfair trade must be assigned to the same place in history – an unacceptable way to treat fellow human beings. 200 years ago the slave trade abolitionists believed it was simply immoral that people should be allowed to suffer to provide us with luxuries such as sugar, coffee or tea. Unfortunately, while there are still producers in Ghana growing cocoa for our chocolate that do not have access to clean water, this message is still appropriate today.
Fairtrade attempts to ensure that when we buy produce made in the world’s poorest countries, the producers receive a living wage. By offering fair prices, guaranteed purchases and a social premium, Fairtrade is impacting positively on the lives of many of the least fortunate people on the planet.
In the summer of 2008, Oxfam and Fairtrade campaigner Bruce Crowther had a ‘Eureka moment’ (in the shower though not the bath!). In a previous ‘Eureka moment’ in 2000 he had created the concept of Fairtrade Towns that led to Garstang becoming the World’s first Fairtrade Town and the hugely successful International Fair Trade Towns movement that followed.
The new idea was to create a walk between Garstang (World’s First Fairtrade Town) and Keswick (a very active Fairtrade Town) that would promote the use of Fairtrade produce, refreshment and accommodation and therefore promote the Fairtrade message. Here lies the origin of the Fair Trade Way!
Bruce planted the seed with me (a very keen walker with many years experience of walking in NW England and a Geography teacher with a passion for maps, the environment and nature, especially birds).
The same night I went home and spread my beloved OS maps across the lounge and within an hour I had the basis of the walk.
These were the criteria that determined the route
- If possible, each day must start and end in a Fairtrade settlement (so accommodation was available if required) and should be a challenging yet achievable walk.
- Places of important scenic, historic, environmental and cultural interest were to be included.
- Where possible roads were to be avoided
- Public Rights of Way were to be used
- Actual and potential premises for Fairtrade refreshment were to be included
Throughout late 2008 and through to the end of September2009 my wife, Belinda, and I reconnoitred the route. This took many, many hours, lots of driving, numerous bus journeys (to get us back to our car!), lots of planning, map reading, note-taking etc. It was mainly really good fun and a great excuse to get walking in this amazing part of Britain!
In late October 2009, six of us set out to trial the full walk – Belinda and I, Bruce, our long-time friend Danny Callery and my work colleague and fellow Geographer, Carolyn Grimbledeston and her husband Irvine (Irv). We were joined by many Fairtrade supporters on the way and we were kindly helped and encouraged by Fairtrade supporters in the towns we stayed in. The Fairtrade companies Divine, Tropical Wholefoods, Mule Bars and Lush provided us with Fairtrade chocolate, other Fairtrade energy foods and much need Fairtrade foot lotion.
True to the spirit of the walk, we stayed either with Fairtrade supporters or in Fairtrade accommodation, ate Fairtrade food (Picnics and cafes) and drank lots of Fairtrade tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
On day three Carolyn had to end the walk. This was however a lucky break for the five remaining walkers as 24 hours later she became our support vehicle, carrying the bags of the injured(!), making snacks, boiling kettles and generally mothering us.)
Apart from day one, (when Bruce insisted we set off at 7am as Manchester United where playing Liverpool at 2pm and he wanted to be back in the pub in Garstang) and day six, (when we hit Lakeland mist), the weather was extraordinarily kind. If ever an autumn was to show this area off to its best then this was it! This was late October yet we had T-shirt weather at times!
Despite a combination of swollen feet, black toe-nails, blisters and wrecked knees (and that was just Bruce!), the five remaining walkers arrived, (at speed), at The Moot Hall in Keswick. A very special Town Crier welcome awaited us organised by the Keswick Fairtrade Steering Committee.
The walk was then revised numerous times between October 2009 and February 2011 and thanks to the support of long-term Fairtrade supporter, The cooperative group (especially BradHill), a website was commissioned, maps drawn, details checked and plans made for a full launch during Fairtrade Fortnight in February 2011.
It is clear that this walk will be revised and tweaked from time-to-time. (See appendix 6)
Throughout history the message of great campaigns has been brought to the attention of the masses by organised walks such as this one. From Mahatma Ghandi’s Salt March to the Jarrow March in the North East of England and more recently the farmers march in Nicaragua to protest about the disastrous fall in coffee prices.
In February 2009, Ray Gill walked from Garstang south to Bridgnorth in Shropshire on his own Fair Trade Way. By chance, he had witnessed our arrival in Keswick. As a Fairtrade supporter he was ready to take up the baton. WE could not have scripted it better if we had tried! It is hoped that one day the Fair Trade Way will be a network of day routes that link the whole country. The whole of Hadrian’s Wall is already a Fairtrade Zone providing the potential to extend the Fair Trade Way Eastward to Newcastle.
YOU could be the next person to take it on! As long as you meet the criteria set out for the walk then we want to hear from you about your proposed link.
We are embarking on placing signs to confirm walkers are on the Fair Trade Way. It is currently not our intention to saturate the walk with roundels. We hope to have one about every mile along the Fair Trade Way using existing posts etc. This will be a long-term project as it involves discussions with many landowners and interested parties. We envisage future sections of the Fair Trade Way being signed in a similar fashion until we have over 1000 miles of interconnected paths right across the country.
Graham Hulme May 2011
Appendix 1 – The route, responsibility and health and safety
The authors of this website do not accept any responsibility for anyone who embarks on any part of the Fair Trade Way. To the best of our knowledge the information is accurate. No-one embarking on a walk of this nature should set out without a careful study of the maps prior to walking, copies of the maps and written instructions and a compass or GPS system. (Please inform us if you find any inaccuracies)
Appendix 2 – Decisions on the route
There are many potential variations on the route chosen. The route does not take the shortest route at all times. It sometimes meanders to take in cultural, historical or environmental highlights. Walkers can of course deviate from this set route and still achieve the walk between the Fairtrade Towns. One interesting variations is to make this a 7 day walk and spend an extra night in Grasmere and walk the FAIRfield Horseshoe – a classic Lakeland Walk! Continue the next day to Keswick.
The walk is designed to walk SOUTH to NORTH. The scenery demands this as the mountains of the Lake District become the focus of each day. The walk also becomes increasingly remote. It could of course be reversed!
Appendix 3 – Maps and distances
The distances shown on the website relate to software built into the Ordnance Survey mapping system used to create the maps. The purple line shows the route. The scale changes as you zoom in mean that some of the accuracy is lost. You are recommended to use the 3rd level of zoom when planning your walk or taking screen shots.
Appendix 4 – Timings
It is not possible to give accurate guidance on how long the sections will take to walk. However, these are considerable distances for the average walker and a full day should be allowed for each. Timings will increase if walkers visit any of the attractions / refreshment stops on the Fair Trade Way.
All seasons provide something of great interest. Autumn will provide amazing leaf colour and the best chance of seeing the salmon on Day 3. Late spring will be best for birds as the breeding males will be singing loudly and nesting will be underway. Summer will give you long hours of daylight. Winter will be a challenge given the daylight hours available. However, Days 1-4 are generally in lowland areas and therefore can be completed in poor weather when higher routes may be out of the question.
Appendix 5 – Public Transport
The sections begin and end in a variety of size settlements. During the reconnoitring of the walk we used public transport to return to the start of each section. Careful planning and accurate timetable information was of course essential.
Appendix 6 – A history of changes to the route.
(Currently no changes since it was launched)