Arts Council England project to inspire everyone along The Ridgeway

Learn from professional photographers and share your photos

In continuous use since prehistory, there are many landmarks and stories to inspire budding and experienced photographers on a visit to The Ridgeway National Trail. To mark its 50th anniversary as a National Trail, a new project funded by Arts Council England was launched in September 2023 to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to record and explore their experience of The Ridgeway, notice change and envisage the future through photographs. Photography has been chosen as a medium that many people can readily engage with, especially if they carry a mobile phone with a camera.

To encourage everyone to explore what they see, professional photographer Matt Writtle is sharing vlogs about his work on The Ridgeway and exhibiting a collection of photographs along The Ridgeway and on social media.

Between September 2024 and April 2025, there will also be free outdoor photography workshops for schools and youth groups based in Swindon, Reading, Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Luton. These workshops are provided by experienced tutors from Sharp Shots Photo Club to encourage youngsters to explore the Trail through photography. A flyer provides more details, including how to book a free workshop.

The project will conclude with an exhibition of 50 photos by Matt Writtle and young people at the Queen’s Park Arts Centre in Aylesbury and on this website in October-November 2025.

Watch Matt’s latest vlog and read on below to find out more…..

Banner photo credit: Matt Writtle

To stimulate ideas amongst the public, professional photographer Matt Writtle is taking photographs and recording vlogs along The Ridgeway between October 2023 and May 2024. Matt’s work will explore three themes: famous landmarks and their myths/legends, e.g Wayland’s Smithy long barrow; lost and faded features and folklore, e.g East Isley’s sheep fairs; and modern features e.g Wroughton solar array. As Matt’s work progresses, he will be sharing his vlogs and behind-the-scenes photos on social media with #Ridgeway50Photos. His final 25 photos will not be shared until August 2024 when they will be put on display alongside the Trail. The photos will be accompanied by brief text describing interesting aspects about the view and inviting Ridgeway visitors passing by to take their own photo of what is significant to them and to share on social media #Ridgeway50Photos.

From September 2024 to April 2025, Sharp Shots will be providing free group workshops with cameras on The Ridgeway for schools, scouts groups etc based in Swindon, Reading, Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Luton. Sharp Shots specialises in photography workshops for young people and this project is providing outdoor workshops suitable for ages 5 years to 19 years. Through skilful teaching, the workshops will facilitate young people’s involvement in the project to ensure The Ridgeway anniversary recognises their perspectives, develops their skills and helps them visit the Trail. It is intended that this project will present opportunities for some youngsters who may rarely or never experiment with photography or visit the Trail or explore what they value/feel in the countryside. One of the exercises will identify signs of change/time depth in the landscape and ask them to imagine future forces of change in order to create a futuristic view or new folklore that they would like to pass on to future generations.

It is advisable for teachers, youth group leaders etc to register interest and book workshops as early as possible by emailing lillian@sharpshotsphotoclub.co.uk. Note that the project does not cater for private workshops or individual/parent bookings – parents are advised to contact their child’s school or youth group leader so that they can arrange bookings. More information about Sharp Shots is available on their website and a project flyer is available here.

The project culminates in a celebratory exhibition of 50 photographs at the Queen’s Park Arts Centre in Aylesbury in October-November 2025. The gallery will display 25 photos by young people and 25 by Matt Writtle to celebrate The Ridgeway in its 50th year. Youngsters exhibiting their photos will be invited with their family to the exhibition opening afternoon to give them insight into the world of being a professional photographer or artist! All schools, scout groups, guide groups etc who were involved in workshops will be welcome to visit the free exhibition, as well as the general public.

To stay updated about the project, please sign up for the Ridgeway newsletter by emailing ridgeway@oxfordshire.gov.uk and/or following The Ridgeway National Trail on Facebook, Instagram or X (Twitter).

Sponsorship and donations to support this project are welcomed since there is outstanding match funding of 5% of project costs. Please email the Ridgeway National Trail Officer for more information: ridgeway@oxfordshire.gov.uk.