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Getting Creative along the Ridgeway National Trail

I was delighted to be invited by Sarah Wright from the Ridgeway National Trail to run an outdoor art journaling workshop on Whiteleaf Hill in Buckinghamshire, on 29th June 2019, as part of 'Get Creative along the Ridgeway National Trail' - a day of talks and workshops, designed to encourage people to enjoy and find inspiration along the national trail.

I chose one of the dampest days in June to do a recce of the walk from St Dunstan's Church in Monks Risborough, up to Whiteleaf Hill. Nevertheless it was a beautiful walk and the misty views were well worth it - along with equipping myself with knowledge of the route and identifying good points along the way to stop and draw. When I got home I made a start on my own art journal page, capturing some of my experience that day on Whiteleaf Hill. I added to this page on the day, whilst listening to the talks.

On the day itself, we were treated to a morning of talks: 'Poems and historic routeways' by author and one-time poet in residence for the Wessex Ridgeway, James Crowden;  'Painting the Ridgeway and the Nash brothers' by artist Anna Dillon; 'The Great Nature Writer, Richard Jefferies', by Mike Pringle, Director of the Richard Jefferies Museum in Swindon, ending with 'The Ridgeway's Future' from Simon Kearey, Chair of the Ridgeway Partnership.

In the afternoon I Ied my outdoor art journaling workshop with nine lovely people, (including my new friend Tim Baynes who has written a fab blogpost here) all of whom already had either a drawing and/or painting practise. We started with a one-line drawing warm-up exercise in St Dunstan's Church and then went out to walk up the hill. En route we had a couple of very quick sketch stops, and to take photos, listen, look and make notes. I challenged everyone to make 10-second drawings!

My aim was to offer fun and easy approaches to drawing, to ultimately complete a journal page reflecting a personal experience of Whiteleaf Hill and the Ridgeway. For example, breaking up the page to capture details, rather than feeling the pressure to draw a whole scene, or adding a map and some lettering. I made a couple of resource pages for people to refer to and take away on the day.

Under the shade of the trees on Whiteleaf Hill, everyone had an hour or so to work on their pages. Whiteleaf Hill is teaming with wild flowers, impressive trees and the views from it are stunning, so there was plenty to explore and be inspired by. Everyone created  wonderful pages, which we shared at the end of the session, along with people who had participated in photography and poetry workshops, which were also on offer that afternoon.

Thank you to everyone who took part and made the day and the workshop so enjoyable for me - I came away totally inspired and want to revisit the Ridgeway National Trail again soon. I am familiar with many of the stretches in Wiltshire but am keen to explore the rest. Maybe a long walk over a number of days, with drawing along the way is in order!

There’s lots going on along The Ridgeway and you can hear all about it in a free newsletter. Email to join the mailing list or visit

Twitter and Instagram: Follow it all @TheRidgeway1972 or  pick up the phone the National Trails Team is on 01865 810224.

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