PILGRIMS on their way to the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow stopped off in Langholm last week to ‘listen to the land’.
The group of 20-plus people known as ‘listening to the land’ began their journey on the 4 September at Tower Hill in London and plan to arrive in Glasgow for the start of conference in November armed with an increased knowledge on what the earth means to local communities.
The group, which was been created by theatre company Kriya Arts and environmental community interest company No Planet B Initiative, have been walking 10 miles a day to get to the conference.
When they arrived in Langholm, they were 400 miles into their 500-mile eight-week journey.
Venturing into Scotland, they said they were met with a ‘nice welcome’ of tea and a place to stay in the church as with many other places during their pilgrimage, which has included fields, farms, and even girl guiding sites.
“We have been walking from London to Glasgow in order to urge world leaders to recognize that nature is vital for all our survival and happiness,” said one of the walkers, Sara Howell.
“Our plan has been to listen to the land and the landscapes and the communities along the way to have a better understanding of what it means to other people and we’ve learnt so much.
“We’re really tired and have sore feet but very excited – it’s a privilege to be able to do this.”
So far, the group which consists of people from many walks of life and from all over the UK, including the Isle of Wight, Wales and Lancashire, have visited a number of cities, towns and villages – Stoke, Manchester, Oxenholme, and Kirkby Lonsdale.
Now they are on their way to Billholm as they make their way to Edinburgh and then Glasgow.
Along the way they have held community meetings, collected interviews and quotes, as well as visited community gardens, organic orchards, eco-churches and other groups to see how they are connecting the public to green spaces.
“This is a pilgrimage for nature and listening to people has made us realise what is happening in communities – floods, droughts, weather changes – you don’t hear about that for each town and each village, so doing this has given us first-hand knowledge of the impacts of climate change,” said another walker, Zoe Allen.
“Everyone has been so kind and this journey has meant so much.
“To see the kindness of other humans despite a walk to highlight devastation is so important, it shows me that there is hope for the future.”
At the end of the walk the pilgrims and organisers will weave their newly found knowledge into a landmark piece of performance art and co-created ‘charter’ document to be presented to delegates at COP26 in Glasgow.
Funded by the Arts Council England, and Wildlife Works, members of the public’s quotes will also appear on bespoke illuminated street signage all over the rooftops of the city during the conference.
The aim of the COP26 conference has been described as a chance to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems.
In addition to building defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.
Representatives from all the world’s governments, plus people from non-governmental organisations, businesses, faith groups, scientists, and other groups such as Indigenous Peoples’ delegations are due to attend the event which runs from 31 October-12 November.