A man from Leamington Spa has set out on foot on a journey of over 100 miles from his home town to London along the planned HS2 route as a protest against the controversial high speed rail project.
Matthew Bishop, 51, who works at a boat yard teaching kids to kayak and paddle-board when not challenging multi-billion pound Government transport initiatives, decided about a month ago to embark on his call to action.
And so on Monday 22 April he gathered with around 45 supporters in South Cubbington Wood to begin his ‘Walk the Line – Stop HS2’ campaign.
Matthew said: “I felt people were giving up, that people really felt like there's nothing we can do anymore, so I’m doing the walk to try to inspire people. I started at South Cubbington Wood in Leamington Spa. There are trees there that are 250 to 300 years old and the train line goes straight through it.”
Since then he has been taking on the English countryside and the varying weather conditions.
Perhaps most remarkably, Matthew was joined for the first 35 miles of his walk by his 72-year-old mum, Gerry.
“She loves it. She was very politically active herself when she was younger. She did a lot of work for kids in the inner city, running youth holiday programs for kids in poor areas,” he said.
Matthew has been covering about 12 miles a day with his 22 kilogram backpack containing, among other things, his tent. He’s rarely needed it though, such has been the hospitality he’s received wherever he’s visited along the way. While this reporter was talking to him he was offered two lifts, three places to stay and a Chinese takeaway!
The campaigner anticipates reaching London on Friday 3 May. Reflecting on his experiences so far, he said:
“There are a few things that stand out. The obvious one is just how beautiful the countryside is. Walking the route has been a real treat. I feel lucky to have seen it and to have enjoyed it. But also, seeing how much this has meant to people.”
He added that the blisters and getting lost were not so much fun!
Regarding what he hopes to achieve, Matthew said:
“I said that I wanted to inspire. The most important thing now is for people to come out and support their local groups if they want to stop this from happening.”
You can follow Matthew’s activities on his Walk the Line Facebook page: Walk The Line - Stop HS2