Your TrailFit guide to Hampstead Heath

Running up Parliament Hill, stumbling upon a secret garden and taking a dip in the famous ponds: British adventure athlete and TrailFit ambassador Laura Kennington steps out in her KEEN Terradora to craft her own fitness routine in this iconic London park

  Images by Conor Beary

Images by Conor Beary

The red buses, distinctive skyline and constant humming of movement, London can feel exhilarating and exhausting all at once. However, amid the chaos is an unmistakable charm. If you know where to look, London has some real hidden gems, pockets of wilderness that can be a sanctuary for those too busy to escape the city. Hampstead Heath is one such sanctuary. Surrounded by quirky coffee shops, characterful houses and historic buildings, it’s also home to 791 acres of ancient woodland and swimming ponds.

I’m between adventures at the moment, living nomadically, so I adapt my fitness routines to wherever I am so I don't need to go to the gym. This is the essence of TrailFit for me – making the most of wherever you are and being outside, even if you find yourself in a huge city like London. It's all about carving your own path to fitness. For me, the key to being active regularly is to make it easy, so it fits into your routine (such as your commute) and to make it fun.

My go-to shoe for when I know I'm going to be on my feet all day, even it's walking to and from meetings in London, is the Terradora. Its versatility means it works well in different environments, whether wild or urban.

Running up that hill

Even on a busy day, allowing a bit of extra time to walk, run or cycle not only keeps me fit, but it means I soak up, rather than insulate against, my surroundings. I’m constantly on the lookout for obstacles I can incorporate into my fitness routine: hills in the countryside and steps in the city. In Hampstead Heath I like to warm up against one of the ancient trees (below) before a run up Parliament Hill. At the top you’re rewarded to that quintessential London skyline – Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral – and feel a sense of almost smug contentment viewing frenetic city life from a peaceful park bench.

  Laura makes use of natural features  , such as trees, for stretching and warming up against

Laura makes use of natural features, such as trees, for stretching and warming up against

A walk in the park

Roaming the ancient woodland trails of Hampstead Heath is akin to stepping foot into Narnia. You can walk for hours through undulating terrain and quickly forget that this small oasis lies within Zone 2 of the Tube network. I'm always on the lookout for natural obstacles that I can incorporate into my ever-changing fitness routine. Trees such as these (below) are ideal for a body weight workout and I can clamber along fallen trunks to improve my balance. This is what TrailFit is all about – making the most of your surroundings and seeing the city as your playground. It really helps you to explore more and unlock your creativity – so much better than a stifling gym.

  Who needs a gym when you've got the park as your playground?

Who needs a gym when you've got the park as your playground?

Secrets to be shared

Stroll through Hampstead Heath’s 791 acres of ancient woodland and you might happen upon the hidden Hill Garden and Pergola (below) – an Edwardian paradise built by landscape architect Thomas Mawson for Lord Leverhulme, who hosted many a summer party here. It was built around the same time as the Northern Line – in fact the spoil from digging the tunnels was used to landscape the gardens. The Pergola, with its classical stone columns creeping with vines and flowers, is a fine place to meander and pretend you're in a period drama. The Terradora boot is the ideal companion for spontaneous rambles such as this. They're so lightweight and comfortable, I barely feel them on my feet.

  Spontaneous rambles in your city can reveal hidden gems, such as London's Hill Garden & Pergola

Spontaneous rambles in your city can reveal hidden gems, such as London's Hill Garden & Pergola

Space to stretch and be you

Seek out the sculptures in Golders Hill Park (below) and the nearby stumpery – a quirky Victorian garden craze in which ferns and woodland plants are arranged around tree stumps. There's even a free zoo to explore and get up close to rare and exotic birds and mammals, such as laughing kookaburras, ring-tailed lemurs and ring-tailed coatis.

There are plenty of wide open spaces in the park to lay out a yoga mat, or go barefoot! I’m doing more yoga at the moment; I love that you can just rock up and do it anywhere. This is TrailFit at its core – redefining fitness in a way that gives you confidence and a sense of freedom. It gives you permission to be you – you don't have to mirror what the media dictates about how you should look or dress or keep fit.

  Yoga is the essence of TrailFit: you can do it anywhere, even barefoot in the park

Yoga is the essence of TrailFit: you can do it anywhere, even barefoot in the park

The ponds and a well-earned coffee

We’re not designed to live our lives in a temperature-controlled environment, cushioned against the natural world. Take a detour and change the pace. Sometimes, that change of scene you’re craving is much closer than you think.

Instead of competing for lane space and counting laps, dive into any number of outdoor pools London has to offer and revel in bird song as you glide through the water. At Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds (below) it’s just £2 for a day pass. After a bracing dip, you’ll feel your senses enlivened, and a flat white and a spot of brunch in one of the independent cafés in Hampstead Village, such as local haunt Ginger & White, is guaranteed to taste better. 

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The Terradora: embracing the TrailFit movement

The Terradora is a robust, lightweight andwaterproof boot designed especially for women that combines the support of hiking footwear with the flexibility and vigour of a trail runner. 

  • Specifically designed for women’s feet 
  • Cushioned panels reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon
  • Low-density EVA midsole provides lightweight support for high intensity workouts and steep descents
  • KEEN all-terrain rubber outsole for high traction grip
  • Dual-density PU foam footbed
  • Lightweight mesh upper
  • KEEN.DRY Waterproof breathable membrane. 
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KEEN’s Terradora comes in a mid (£109.99) and low (£99.99) style. Head to keenfootwear.com/trailfit-eu for more information, watch the Terradora video at bit.ly/ErnestTerradora and check our online directory for more stories from KEEN.

Follow on Instagram and Facebook @KEENEUROPE. Tag your pics #Terradora and #TrailFit to join the TrailFit movement. 

Winter adventures

Make the most of starry skies and frosty mornings this winter and get out into the wild. Wynnchester is your guide to three essential elements of adventure kit: your bed, your shelter and your pack 

 Patrol Pack, £150

Patrol Pack, £150

Wynnchester was born out of a passion for beautiful design, a respect for simplicity and a love of nature. Today, they design heritage-inspired outdoors equipment for modern-day adventurers. Their customers include former and serving military, professional cowboys, scout masters and bushcraft instructors. Let's take a look at their expedition inventory:

Adventurer Bedroll

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The bedroll is a simple solo shelter that sets up in seconds. Fully enclosable, it requires no ground sheet, no guy ropes and no pegs. Built to last, the bedroll is manufactured in the UK using only the finest, military-spec materials. The all-canvas construction is robust and durable, pre-treated for water, rot and fire resistance. Wynnchester’s bedrolls are used by hundreds of professionals and recreational campers the world over. £525

Adventure Tarp

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Made from the same material as the bedroll, this tough canvas tarp won’t catch fire or be ruined by flying embers from your campfire or cooking stove. Measuring 3m x 1.85m, it is the perfect size for a one-man shelter. With a total of 10 reinforced attachment points, the setups are limited only by your imagination. £225

Patrol Pack

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After many years restoring vintage Norwegian Army patrol packs in their workshops, the design was a natural choice for Wynnchester’s line of new-made bags. Their modern version, the 18L PATROL, remains true to the original and is constructed from military-spec canvas and 100% cowhide top grade leather.  Each bag in the limited edition run is individually numbered and available in a choice of a fully waterproof, modern dry finish or a traditional hand-waxed finish using Wynnchester’s own all-natural wax formula. £150

Get 10% off these items using code ERNEST10 online at wynnchester.com

Gift guide: gently rugged carry goods

We are proud to introduce one of our sponsors Rural Kind: makers of simple, functional and gently rugged waxed canvas and leather carry goods for everyday adventuring, handcrafted in the hills of Wales

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Key Carry
A sturdy and dependable strap for carrying your keys, with a brass stud fastening for attaching to a belt or bag. Handmade with oak bark tanned leather and solid brass hardware. £28

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Roll-top Rucksack
Rugged enough for the hills, handsome enough for the city. This refined roll-top design is made with heavyweight waxed canvas and Devon leather. £250


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Glasses Case
Be kind to your eyewear with this strong, refined and protective glasses case. Made by hand in our rural workshop from rich and characterful oak bark tanned leather. £89

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Utility Bag
For everyday adventures, carrying tools, loading with books or filling with fresh groceries. Strong, durable and handcrafted from waxed canvas and oak bark tanned leather. £190


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Card Wallet
A simple and functional two pocket wallet for carrying a few cards and some notes. Crafted from oak bark tanned leather and hand-stitched with a waxed linen thread. £36

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Musette
For city strolls, gentle rides and everyday rambles. This waxed canvas and leather cross-body bag is our gently rugged take on the classic cyclist’s musette. £129

To find out more about Rural Kind, visit our Directory

Shooting on a Leica IIIc

Dressed in woollen breeches and hobnailed boots, photographer Hanson Leatherby and writer Oliver Carter-Wakefield set out to climb Snowdon in the footsteps of mountaineer George Leigh Mallory, and to capture the expedition with the Kodak camera of the day – the Leica IIIc. We caught up with Hanson to find out more about this robust, yet elegant, piece of kit.

  Images by Hanson Leatherby

Images by Hanson Leatherby

For those unfamiliar with vintage cameras, what is a Leica?

The first 35mm film Leica prototypes were built by Oskar Barnack at Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, Wetzlar, in 1913. Intended as a compact camera for landscape photography, particularly during mountain hikes, the Leica was the first practical 35 mm camera that used standard cinema 35 mm film. Barnack conceived the Leica as a small camera that produced a small negative, with high quality lenses that could create well-defined negatives.

Tell us about the model you’re using – the IIIc.

My Leica IIIc was made in 1940. It's very small and portable with tiny interchangeable lenses that are really sharp and render beautifully with B&W film. They call it the 'Leica glow' with lenses from this era. The nature of shooting with a rangefinder urges you to frame in certain ways that give the image a particular style no other camera can give. This, as well as its portability, is why I chose it.

What should a user bear in mind when it comes to handling and operating this camera?

You have to cut the film leader to fit the film into the camera, which is a bit of a challenge. The shutter speed dial has to be operated after the film is wound on, not before.

How did you find using the Leica on the Mallory shoot in Snowdonia? Were there any surprises or challenges?

I have shot a lot with this camera so no surprises, really. As mentioned before, loading film is the main challenge as you have to cut the film leader to slide it into the body of the camera so that is doesn't foul the cloth shutter curtain. The curtain runs horizontally directly in front of the film plain, so when you slide film into the body of the camera it can hit the shutter curtain and cause damage or a jam.

Any other exciting shoots coming up?

The next shoot I have coming up is a Brassaï style nighttime street shoot in Paris, shot on film with models wearing 1930s clothing.

Hanson Leatherby is a Bebop fanatic, aesthete and an escapist. He is also a lover of cubism, sharp suits and industrial design. He shoots film on manual cameras to keep him sane.

hansonleatherby.com

You can read about Hanson and Oliver's experience walking in the footsteps of Mallory in issue 6 of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

 

 

The history of the slipper

Fashion, customs, social science and industry – once you step inside the history of the slipper there’s much to sink into. But don’t get too comfortable, it’s not all about toasty toes 

What is a slipper? Until the late 19th century, the term could be used to describe any indoor shoe that slipped on to the foot, including ballroom slippers (think Cinderella’s glassy numbers), bathroom slippers, bedroom slippers and afternoon tea slippers. Nowadays, we use the word to mean footwear that is only to be worn in the home. Whatever the definition, its history is an absorbing proposition.

Slippers were worn in Chinese courts as early as 4700 BC. They would be made out of cotton or woven rush, had leather linings, and were adorned with symbols of power, such as dragons. Native American moccasins were also highly decorative. Hand painted to depict scenes from nature and embellished with beadwork and fringing, their soft sure-footedness made them suitable for indoors appropriation.

Inuit and Aleut people would make shoes from smoked hare hide to protect their feet against the frozen ground inside their homes. Conversely, the discerning Victorian gentleman was in need of a pair of ‘house shoes’ in order to keep the dust and gravel outside – much better than ruining his expensive rug and beautifully polished floor.

Embroidered slippers presented Victorian ladies (on both sides of the Atlantic) with an opportunity to show off their needlepoint skills. Magazines such as Godey’s Lady’s Book and Peterson’s Magazine contained patterns so that the latest fashions could be recreated in the home; a perfect gift for a loved one, and an ideal way to entice a man with an eye for embroidery.

The emergence of a slipper industry grew from the warehouse floor of the felt industry in northeast England. Workers would make themselves footwear from the scraps that were left over, and from this seed grew the businesses of John William Rothwell, Samuel McLerie and other commercial retailers in the late 1800s. Though the advent of heating and descent into everyday casualness may have led slipper sales to decline since the 1950s it doesn’t make them any less interesting, or snug! Read on for tales of notable styles, from those worn by Kanye West to the Pope. 

The Prince Albert slipper

The discerning gentleman’s house shoe, which gained popularity in the 1840s, is said to have been designed by Prince Albert himself. The Albert slipper has an extended vamp (the upper part), quilted lining and leather sole. Initially designed for Victorian men hosting dinner parties, and to be teamed with a matching smoking jacket, this design staple was later synonymous with Hollywood greats, such as Clarke Gable. From Robert Kennedy to the purveyor of questionable style Kanye West, it has continued to be a signature of the debonair.

To liberate or repress

Slippers have been used as both a symbol of freedom and oppression. For Rita de Acosta Lydig, receiver of one of the largest divorce settlements of her day in 1900, her Pietro Yanturni slippers, made of gold brocade and silver silk tissue (stored on shoe trees made from antique violins), were a sign of opulence. Slippers worn by members of a sultan’s harem represented something entirely different. Their frail nature made it impossible to escape over any rough terrain, but made them ideal footwear for the luxurious carpets of their masters.

Papal submission

The slippers historically worn by the Pope were an elaborate affair. Bright red, to represent the blood of martyrs and Christ’s own bloodied feet in his final moments, they were handmade from silk or satin and decorated with gold thread. A gold cross garnished with rubies completed the ornate spectacle. The Pope wore these slippers inside his residences, rather than the red leather shoes he would wear outside, and it was custom that any pilgrim having an audience with the Pope had to kneel and kiss one of his slippers. 

Words: Duncan Haskell, Illustrations: Jade They

This originally featured in issue six of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

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