How does it work?
Essentially you walk Darwin’s tree of life – in reverse – along the Quantock hills in Somerset; starting at the present day and symbolically travelling back in time to our shared origins. Most people walk the human line of evolution but as you go you merge with trails from our increasingly distant ancestors. Some of these trails are populated by folks representing other branches of the tree, for instance chimps , lemurs, birds or jellyfish. Strictly speaking all these trails should be the same length seeing as all extant species come from the same origins with lineages that have been on the planet just as long as ours.
However, not everyone is keen or able to walk 13 miles and so we made the trails many different lengths so that you can choose your walking distance through the Trail you adopt. The longest trails are nearly 20 miles, but for less hearty walkers or younger families, there are a whole range of shorter options for instance : the Bird Trail (9.5 miles), the Starfish Trail (5 miles) and the Bacteria Trail (less than a mile!) If you wish to avoid walking altogether, you can simply and turn up at the beach at the allotted time and join the party!
Walking Scales: If we are all to reach our goal in a sensible time frame, each step must represent thousands or even millions of years. In terms of the life forms with which we are most familiar, very little happens in the first few billion years of evolution, and yet, especially from a primate point of view, everything happens in just the last few million years. Given this, we decided to create three different scales over the trail. The first expands our mammal centred period since the terrible climatic catastrophe that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. From this point on you will walk back 10,000 years every step. Beyond this point, our time travel increases by an order magnitude to 100,000 years per stride and then, for the last 2.7 billion years, we increase by another order of magnitude to around a million years every stride. In this way we ensure a relatively constant procession of rendezvous throughout the trail.
Eventually our epic re-enactment will reach its ultimate origin; the dawn of life itself. Staged along the rolling green hills of the Quantocks (an area of outstanding natural beauty) , we are very fortunate to be able to end the Trail at Kilve beach ~ a beautiful, rugged, rocky beach which is, appropriately enough, famous for its fossils.
Have a look at our Google Map of the Quantock Hills for more details of the various Trails and coach service. This provides links to detailed route plans for all the trails and once booked, we will add your name on your trail so you can see in advance with whom you will be walking. On specified trails marshals will lead you up to the main Trail rendezvous to make sure you don’t get lost!
First open the : Google Map of the walk. You can choose to walk one of any of the many different trails, each one representing a different branch of Darwin’s tree. You need to decide how far you want to walk or, if you prefer, which life form you wish to represent. The distances are shown for each trail, along with detailed ROUTE DETAILS which you can print out in advance. Trails marked in blue will be guided by a Trail Marshal for those less confident about finding their way.
Dogs are welcome along the Trail and at Halsway Manor (camping only) on leads please- there are livestock roaming free all the way along the Quantock Hills.