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In conversation with Quintin Lake

Photographer, walker and adventurer Quintin Lake joins us to talk about his long-distance walking trips including around the coastline of Britain

28 Jun 2023 6 min read

This is episode 6 of our 2023 podcast series. Listen to the episode here and find other episodes and previous series here.

This month we are joined by Quintin Lake, a photographer, walker and adventurer.


I’ve been a photographer for 25 years, earning my living doing commercial photography and art photography based on walks. I’d always travelled abroad by plane to find inspiration, but about seven years ago I started to become more fascinated by the British landscape because I found it so remarkable. 

I walked from the source of the Severn to the sea and the source of the Thames to the sea, and I found that I produced the best work I’ve ever made. My eyes were more open by going slower. It makes you realise it's about looking more carefully, rather than travelling more often. Staying local means the stakes are lower. If you travel somewhere that’s expensive, with a long flight, the stakes are quite high to enjoy yourself. 

Flight Free UK

What was it that drew you to the British coastline and made you think, I want to walk every inch of that?


I was blown away by how many different stories there were on coastal walks. You can go from some weird bit of industry, to some amazing mud flats, to some cliffs all in a few metres. This was even more inspiring to me than the river walks. 

In total, it’s been an eight year project. I spent five years walking, then three years editing the photos. If I thought it was going to be that huge, I probably wouldn’t have started! The idea was to walk a day or two, in sections. Those sections kind of grew, and in Scotland it was two or three months for each section. At the beginning it felt like quite low stakes, because anyone can walk a few miles a day. As the journey progressed I got into a system with distances and the weight I was carrying.

Flight Free UK

You have a lot of equipment for photography and for wild camping. What were the practicalities of the trip like? 


My camera gear is 5kgs: two big lenses, a very heavy body and a tripod. In Scotland I also took a drone. To compensate, everything else I took was super light, similar to what marathon runners use. My tent was 800g, and my sleeping bag was 700g in summer.

I would walk about 25km a day which would allow about three hours of photography. If it was bad weather I’d walk around 40km and take fewer pictures. If it was amazing weather I’d walk less and take more pictures.

Every walking day was planned in advance which was challenging because of the weather, but for the pictures it was great. There were images I’d never have captured if I was looking at the forecast. Over Cardiff in the winter, there was this black storm cloud. It had a magical golden light and created a strong picture.  

Flight Free UK

The photographs on your website ‘The Perimeter’ are stunning. There’s a focus on the lesser spotted things. Is that part of your style?


Yes, and that’s why I think the journey had value. We’re all familiar with the ‘iconic coast’ – the white cliffs, the Lizard, the stacks of Duncansby – yet my experience was more about capturing the subtle plays of light or the little things. That’s the joy of a long walk like this, it’s the unexpected moments. 

I love long walks because they open up creativity. Human-powered travel allows you to slow down and see things. There’s something about sleeping on the ground and on the earth, and seeing the stars at night. After a couple of days of that, you get into the rhythm of what matters. It allows me to see things more sharply.

Flight Free UK

What was your favourite part? 


I loved Scotland because the people and the landscape were amazing. You’ve got the right to roam and the right to camp. My favourite picture, which I call Scottish Sublime, seemed to capture all the seasons in the same image. 

My top pick for Scotland would be the Knoydart Peninsula. It's a wild, mostly uninhabited peninsula, in the rough bounds near Mallaig. The sensible way to get there is by train to Mallaig then a boat to Inverie. The way I did it was along a very arduous route across the mountains!

Northumberland was also very beautiful with Bamburgh castle and Lindisfarne. There was a full moon as I walked across to Holy Island on the pilgrim's path at night and it was just magical. 

Flight Free UK

Have you done any of the other long distance walking routes in the UK?


I’m about to finish the Pennine Way. I finished the Cleveland Way last week, and Hadrian's Wall a couple months earlier. I’ve also done the Peddars Way which is an old Roman road from Colchester to the coast. 

Glyndŵr's Way was much more remote, I didn't meet a single hiker on the whole trail. And by far the most difficult and most exciting route was the Cambrian way which goes across the spine of Wales from the south coast to the north, taking in 40 summits along the way. It’s very physically challenging if you're backpacking, but it’s fantastic if you can navigate well.

Flight Free UK

What are your final tips for people wanting to do something like this?


I would encourage people not to be too worried about wild camping. As long as you leave no trace, or do better than that – I often leave my camping spots cleaner than I found them. I’ve never had a problem in hundreds of nights of camping in the UK. Pitch after dark and leave early. 

If you are new to long distance walking, start with an easier trail, for example, the Thames path, or the South Downs way. Or further north it could be an easier section of the Pennine Way or the Speyside Way. They would all be great ones to start with. 

You can find more about Quintin at his website,, or on Twitter or Instagram @quintinlake

Listen to the full episode here and find other episodes and previous series here.


Interview conducted and produced by Anna Hughes. Voiceover: Lou Millington. Intro music: Call to Arms by Aaron Paul Low. Outro music: First Action Hero by Aaron Paul Low.