Dr Bevis Watts is chief executive of Triodos Bank UK and has headed up the Bristol-based sustainable bank since 2016 – the first time a UK bank has selected an environmentalist to a key executive role. Bevis has focused his 20-year career on leading organisations that have a positive impact on the environment and society. He was previously chief executive of Avon Wildlife Trust and head of business support at The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP).
What were your walking habits/levels pre-lockdowns?
My walking levels pre-lockdown were quite infrequent. I would go for a big long walk in nature every so often, rather than something daily in the city. It was all in one go, rather than little and often.
Have you increased the amount/distance you walk since lockdowns started?
I certainly walk a lot more regularly than I did previously. I’ve tended to explore new urban areas of Bristol and have also taken to walking quite late in the evening to avoid crowds. I find that a short evening walk helps me to sleep better.
What role has walking played in your lockdown?
Walking has been an important source of exercise. It’s also provided a connection to the world around me. While you don’t directly interact with many people when walking, it was one of the rare opportunities to see other people out and about. I often walk by myself, as and when I can, which suits my very busy weekdays. At weekends, however, I aim to do at least one walk to catch up with a friend.
What’s your favourite route to walk? And why?
My favourite lockdown route has been from Henleaze/Westbury Park, where I live, across the Downs and through Sneyd Park to Bennett’s Patch and White’s Paddock in the Avon Gorge. This is an Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserve that we bought during my time as chief executive of the charity, and it was created to mark Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015. I’ve enjoyed seeing the seasonal changes throughout the past 12 months, as the nature reserve has developed.
If I’m looking to extend the walk, I’ll cross the Portway and – despite the traffic – keep my eye out for the odd heron, cormorant or wader along the river. I’ll then cut back up through ‘goat gully’ to the Downs.
Podcast, music, or peace and quiet when walking?
It’s a mix, really. I like listening to nature and birdsong when I’m in the countryside, but often choose audiobooks or podcasts when I’m walking in the city.
At the moment, I’m listening to Mary Portas’s book ‘Work Like A Woman’ having heard her ‘Kindness Economy’ podcast series. In the past year, I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks – I enjoy autobiographies or memoirs, such as ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama, ‘Natives’ by Akala, ‘I Am An Island’ by Tamsin Calidas and ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree. Also, stories of nature and exploration – I’ve listened to ‘The Secret Life of Cows’ by Rosamund Young, as well as ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn, which tells a story of personal restoration through walking. A bit of a busman’s holiday are climate crisis audiobooks like Jonathon Porritt’s ‘Hope in Hell’.
Will you maintain walking post-lockdown?
Yes, I really hope to. The past year has definitely brought about a greater appreciation of the area that I live in and emphasised the importance of regular walking for all forms of wellbeing