Tales from the River is kind of a love letter to the River Trent and its people. We’re walking the length of the river, from the source to the sea, storytelling (and getting others to share their stories) along on the way.

1st-21st September 2012
187 miles

Why are we doing this? The Trent is a river with stories, a river with a place in history. But it’s a real river, a working river. Walking the whole way means you can’t pretend otherwise. We’ll walk past the factories and the old shopping trollies too. It won’t all be kingfishers and rolling hills.

We want to hear about and talk about that real river and the real stories of the people along it, as well as folk tales and ancient history. It’s all part of the story, warts and all. We want to give people a chance to connect – with the landscape, with other people, with the past. If the river is part of your story, in whatever way, then this project is for you.

We aren’t charging anyone for events. We aren’t getting any funding. This isn’t because we are rich and can afford to do anything we want. We just wanted to do this.

We wanted to have an adventure. We wanted to be able to experiment. We wanted to do something for the love of it.

So we’re hoping that people in the communities we visit can put us up for the night. Like a pair of wandering medieval minstrels, singing for their supper. You might think that sounds like a crazy idea, and you might be right. But we want this to be a bit magical and mythical, as well as practical and real.

If you’d like to donate a night’s bed and board along the Trent (a spare room, a sofa-bed, or you can put us up in a luxury hotel if you really want…) then get in touch. Just two of us will be walking and doing overnight stays (Ross and Soph).  We don’t take up much room, we’re a couple so can share a bed, and we’re pretty used to roughing it.

Performances will feature storytelling, oral history and audience discussion. They’ll be run by award-winning public engagement specialist Sophia Collins. Live sound design by Ross Winter. Some performances will also include music and songs from Nottingham singer/songwriter Dave Collins.

It should be interesting. Let’s see what happens.


Most events will last 1.5 hours.

The first half of each event will be a storytelling performance, accompanied by music. This performance will be a mixture of folktales and factual stories – history, geology, ecology, etc.

The second half of each event will be a chance for audience members to chat and share stories with each other – from their favourite bits of history or folklore to personal reminiscences about falling in the river when they were five, etc.

The idea is that it’s a fun and informal way of learning more about the river, getting people talking about it, and of giving people an excuse to chat and share stories.

The event format has been designed by Sophia Collins, with input from experts in community development, oral history, storytelling and education.


12 thoughts on “About

  1. Joy Conway

    Fantastic idea.

  2. Sounds great, I would love to accommodate you (I live in Nottingham) but with only 1 spare room, and 1 double bed in it, I can’t see a way to put 4 of you up for the night…do you split into smaller groups?

  3. Hi Laurel, thanks! Actually it will just be two of us needing accommodation, we decided it would be a bit impractical for Mum and Dad to come with us. So we’d love to stay with you.

    I really should update the text above…

  4. I’ve changed the text above now to reflect the fact that Mum and Dad will only be joining us for some gigs, and won’t be needing accommodation.

  5. Rachel Venis

    What a fantastic adventure and a lovely thing to do! Hope you have perfect indian summer weather for it! Pity I’m not on route or would offer you board….if its successful, come and do the River Dart in Devon next year!!!

  6. Hi Sophia,
    this is a lovely idea. I’m actually in South Leicestershire nowhere near the Trent but I wish you well and I’ll log in and follow your progress.
    Someone on LinkedIn suggested I looked at what you were doing because I’m starting a project called ‘Father Used To Say’ which will be songs and stories about inspirational people – I’m starting collecting now and applying for funding.
    My WordPress site is http://www.fatherusedtosay.wordpress.com
    oh, by the way, how did you get a music player on your site and is it free?

  7. Pingback: A panel on storytelling in science communication | The dual carriageway to Damascus

  8. Pingback: Speaking to... Sophia Collins | | Science Communication

  9. Dinah Wilcox

    I went to your event last Friday at Lowdham – loved it! Your enthusiasm and zest for life really shone through. Learnt a lot about “our” river as well as having a good laugh. Your baby is gorgeous too! Good luck with future meanderings x

    • Aw, thanks Dinah. It really makes it feel worthwhile if people have got something out of it:-). Maybe we’ll have to do a talk in Nottingham about the Tweed too!

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