The Fair Trade Way
In October 2009 six intrepid pioneers blazed the 80 mile (a total of 196,000 footsteps) trail from Garstang to Keswick along the Fair Trade Way. Led by pathfinder and Garstang Oxfam Group Chair Graham Hulme, Bruce Crowther (Chair of the Garstang Fairtrade Group) Belinda Hulme, Carolyn Hall, Danny Callery and Irv Grimbaldeston walked for six days through North Lancashire and the Fairtrade County of Cumbria with stops in the Fairtrade Towns of Lancaster, Arnside, Kendal, Bowness and Grasmere.
The walk took in the beautiful scenery of the Lake District National Park bursting with wildlife from circling buzzards and swooping kingfishers to leaping salmon at Force Falls Fish Pass on the River Kent near Levens Hall. Many historical interest sites lie on the route including the Maritime museum and slave trade memorial at Lancaster Quay, Leighton Hall, Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, Levens Hall, the Quaker Tapestry at Kendal Meeting House, the grave of slave Rasseals Bellfield at St. Martin’s Church in Bowness, Wordsworth’s homes at Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage and his grave in Grasmere.
Unfortunately Carolyn suffered a severe muscle injury on the third day which meant she was unable to complete the walk, but she stayed with the team to run a support van and provide the walkers with regular supplies of Fairtrade snacks, sweets and cups of tea. Although not written into the original plan this support proved to be an essential service that was hugely appreciated by the walkers.
The Fairtrade companies Tropical Wholefoods and Divine Chocolate kindly donated Fairtrade cereal bars, dried fruit, apricot kernels and chocolate to help energize the walkers. The mango tango and chocolate and banana Mule Bars supplied by Tropical Wholefoods were a particularly welcome energy boost on the 726m peak at Ullscarf. As well as the magnificent homemade savory and sweet flapjacks made by Jim Paris from Garstang Quaker Meeting. Lush also donated pots of Fair Trade foot lotion that provided welcome relief at the end of each long walking day (and sometimes in the middle!).
The walkers were most impressed by the abundance of cafes, restaurants and guesthouses supporting Fairtrade along the route and by the reception and departure committees from campaigners and council representatives in each of the Fairtrade Towns. Each day they were joined by other hikers who were keen to show their support for the walk and its ideals. A very special welcome awaited their arrival in Keswick where Fairtrade campaigner and Keswick Town Crier Bob Bryden ensured a warm reception on completing the walk, before joining the walkers for a congratulatory toast using Co-op Fairtrade rose sparkling wine in the Pedlar Café.
Throughout history the message of great campaigns has been brought to the attention of the masses by organised walks. 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. The time has now come for a Fair Trade walk involving the many Fairtrade Towns across the UK.
It is hoped and expected that the Fair Trade Way will help strengthen the Fairtrade Town campaigns in North Lancashire and Cumbria and that many other walkers will follow the route. Fair Trade ramblers are encouraged to develop their own Fair Trade Ways in other parts of the country. In 2010 the World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall that stretches from Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria to South Shields in the North East became the first cross-country Fairtrade zone in the world. This famous walkway already includes the Fairtrade Towns of Carlisle, Brampton, Hexham, Haltwhistle and Newcastle which could extend the ‘Fair Trade Way’ to the East coast. Who knows perhaps Fairtrade supporters in Newcastle and Gateshead may wish to resurrect the Jarrow march in support of Fairtrade farmers wanting a fair days pay for a fair days work. Then the ‘Fair Trade Way’ will run from Garstang, the world’s first Fairtrade Town to London, the world’s largest Fairtrade City.
Thanks to support from The cooperative more detailed information, photographs and the route for the Fair Trade Way will be available on the new Fair Trade Way website to be launched during Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 and work will now continue to get the Fair Trade Way officially recognized as a public walkway.