Filkin's Drift

A folk music band’s epic 870-mile walking tour of the Wales Coast Path

Filkins Drift

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Filkin’s Drift (Chris Roberts and Seth Bye) and Freddie Hodkin.

Pictured: Freddie (left), Chris (middle) and Seth (right)

Our Inspiration

The idea behind this project was to attempt a radical approach to sustainable touring. As 2 full-time musicians (and an assistant!) who love nature and the outdoors, and have wanted to do a long-distance hike for a long time but can’t realistically take long periods of time off, it was posited that perhaps the two things could be combined.

The answer was found in the ancient Welsh bardic tradition, a centuries-old practice of sharing art by walking from place to place. So, with fiddle, guitar, CDs, laptop and everything else strapped to our backs, we embarked on a schedule of 50 shows in 59 days, gathering stories and tunes for future material, collaborating with creatives around the country, and bringing music to places that travelling musicians would rarely, if ever, reach.

This last point was also the reason we decided to raise money for the charity Live Music Now along the way, who bring live music engagement in the form of concerts, workshops and projects to people who may struggle to access it in traditional settings, for example those in hospitals, special education schools, care homes and the like. Donations can be made on the Just Giving page:

Start date: 3rd September 2023, Chester
Finish Date: 31st October 2023, Chepstow

High Points

There were so many amazing times on our trip. Incredible views and landscapes, such as Holyhead Mountain or Morfa Dyffryn, aside, we were treated to a ride on a private miniature railway in someone’s garden one morning between breakfast and setting off for the day.

It encapsulated everything that was great about the trip including the music, coming after the previous evening’s amazing shared gig with the musician Eve Goodman; the people, having been put up and fed and entertained by 2 friendly hosts that night; and the amazing adventure in nature we shared together, as we non-stop laughed our way around this idyllic garden full of insects and flowers, doing something we would never have done had we not chosen this route.

Low Points

Morning of day 2, when, en route from our accommodation to that day’s start point, we lost a box of hundreds of copies of our new EP ‘Rembard’s Retreat’ when it slid off the car roof onto the A55 and was obliterated by an oncoming SUV! Watch the episode on our Youtube channel

Another low point was being caught in a storm when summiting Yr Eifl on day 17. Our new friend who had set off with us that morning had wisely decided to turn around just before the worst of it hit, but with a gig to get to that evening we had no choice but to press on! We averaged 15 miles a day so didn’t have much contingency time built in.

Our Lightbulb Moments

This is hard to pin down, as we learnt so many amazing things along the journey. On several occasions we were welcomed into people’s homes and got to see the incredible ways that they’re living their lives in simple and beautifully sustainable ways, like growing their own food or finding alternatives to vehicles when they live literally on the path, away from any road.

We learnt that despite the climate crisis, it is still possible to see remarkable wildlife when you spend all day every day outside: choughs, red squirrels, Risso’s dolphins and seals to name but a few- the natural richness was incredible, but is of course struggling in our changing world.

Finally, and almost without noticing, it became clear that as people, we were able to achieve more than we ever thought possible; it turns out we can walk 870 miles, we can challenge established norms of the music industry e.g. the geographical spacing of gigs.

And we can in fact get by on the incredible generosity and hard work of people all around the Wales Coast Path, including those who live there, run venues and chapels and community spaces there and who maintain the route that allows people to experience some of the best coastal landscapes, views and heritage on Earth.

More information about Filkin’s Drift