Radical twenty-first-century walkers and the Romantic qualities of leisure walking

Authored by: Phil Smith

The Routledge International Handbook of Walking

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138195349
eBook ISBN: 9781315638461
Adobe ISBN:




In Jiro Taniguchi’s 1992 manga, The Walking Man, the everyday walks of a conservative white-collar worker are diverted by chance and curiosity into an ambiguous zone between leisurely strolls and hyper-sensitised exploration, trespass, stalking and pilgrimage. The “walking man” breaks into a swimming pool to swim naked, climbs Mount Fuji symbolically and obsessively follows an elderly man. At the end of each disruption, he returns home and normativity is re-made.

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Radical twenty-first-century walkers and the Romantic qualities of leisure walking


In Jiro Taniguchi’s 1992 manga, The Walking Man, the everyday walks of a conservative white-collar worker are diverted by chance and curiosity into an ambiguous zone between leisurely strolls and hyper-sensitised exploration, trespass, stalking and pilgrimage. The “walking man” breaks into a swimming pool to swim naked, climbs Mount Fuji symbolically and obsessively follows an elderly man. At the end of each disruption, he returns home and normativity is re-made.

Taniguchi’s manga maps the territory for this chapter, which examines examples of UK-based walking arts practitioners who work around the boundaries of everyday or leisure walking; part of an identifiable “meshwork” with unevenly shared principles, aesthetics and narratives. The chapter then examines representations of the “why” of conventional recreational walking (hiking and rambling) as expressed in popular walking publications, and concludes by identifying philosophical affordances in leisure and radical walking for mutual engagement.

The practices

Jess Allen practises “tractivism”. She walks footpaths, mostly rural, and engages those she meets in dialogues about ecology and climate change. As prompts for conversation she carries props or gifts (low-energy light bulbs) or uses costume (carrying a yoke and pails). Elspeth Owen is a long-distance walking artist who makes “epic” durational walks, during which she is often uncertain of destination and must usually find a space for camping at night. One of her walking artworks, Grandmother’s Footsteps (2009), passed through fifteen of the UK’s counties and marked her becoming a grandmother; it involved taking messages between other first-time grandparents. On the delivery of each message, she acquired a new message and a new, previously unknown, destination. For Owen, now 77, one

motivator is her acute sense of fear when walking in unknown places – a fear that she acknowledges, confronts and overcomes . . . all the bad things that she imagined might happen . . . placed beside all the good things that did: ‘somebody has probably done something fantastic for me, or shown me the way or taken me in’.

(Heddon and Turner 2010: 18–19) While Allen and Owen generally walk alone, their practices are sociable and relational (unlike the epic solo journeys of earlier male walking artists, such as Richard Long); not only challenged by terrain and duration, but ecologically woven into that environment (Owen making ‘blue moon’ actions where she stays outside for the 28 days of a two-moon month and takes night walks (Heddon and Turner 2010) and reflexively confronting the social in their own bodies).

Emma Bush’s art event, Village Walk (2008), in Harbertonford (Devon, UK) was led at different times by different residents; they narrated the history of individual houses, discussed residents’ paintings, told autobiographical and fantastic stories (channelling a Samurai warrior). There were collective actions of planting, singing and witnessing a newly engaged couple dancing. Somewhere between a community and an aesthetic event, the walk wove together public spaces with private gardens and rooms, entangling local historiography with subjective fantasies, challenging the valorisation of authenticity and dismantling each narrative as it established itself.

Lucy Furlong’s Amniotic City (2011) maps a space as defined as any village, close to the City of London; a poem-map covering a similar area to “Jack the Ripper” tours. Rather than make morbid space, she offers choices around passion, corporeality and female agency, ranging widely across roles and discourses: fictional, independent, maternal, affectionate, exploratory, loving, marking and supernatural. Furlong’s poems are recognisably sited; potential liturgies for re-enactment. They are proposals, less bent on cutting passages than on following clues to alignments of desire in patterns immersed in the terrain; an interweaving of intimacy and otherness reminiscent of Janet Cardiff’s projection of herself in audio works: ‘[M]y surrogate body starts to infiltrate their consciousness while in reverse their remembered dreams, triggered by phrases and sounds, invade and add to the artwork’ (Cardiff 1999: 15).

The zines collected in dériviste Laura Oldfield Ford’s Savage Messiah (2011) share a raw anger with older punk publications like Sniffin’ Glue (1976–1977) at the alienation of communities and individuals, but without their pessimism. Ford’s work is fuelled by emotions, rushes, love, desiring, dreaming and an erotic urge to fight back. Inspired by her “drifts” through the brutalist architecture of the emptying housing estates she has lived in, they speak of the spontaneity of parties, squatting and protests, of self-questioning and heightened states. Ford uses everyday materials such as biros, yet deploys literary and philosophical references. Her hybrid images defy any single reading, her presence is always ambiguous. She comments passionately, she refuses to comment; she protects her interiority while exercising her self-determination. Her drift from authenticity is a retreat from the state, from the threat of dependency on anything other than her own agency.

These are just five of the hundreds of self-designating “walking artists” or artists and activists using walking in the UK. The London-based Walking Artists Network, which informally networks among walking artists, has over 500 members. While they are distinctive practitioners, there is much common ground in immersive and reflexive subjectivities, the deferral of synthesis and the sustenance of multiplicities, placing oneself at the mercy of the world, shifts between solitude and sociability, use of everyday materials, distance from a recognised art market and playing around common forms of walking such as strolling, tourist visiting, rural rambling and guided walks.

The genealogies

Despite growing numbers and a meshwork of practices, these walkers are still mostly absent from the “canonical” narratives of Western European walking arts repeated and finessed in accounts by Rebecca Solnit (2000) (the only account of the “canon” to appropriately feature women walkers), Rachael Antony and Joël Henry (2005), Merlin Coverley (2006), Tomas Espedal (2010), Frédéric Gros (2014) and others. This narrative extends back to Romanticism and was first articulated as mass participatory recreational walking groups proliferated and a self-consciously aesthetic, critical practice of walking in its own right emerged from iconoclastic movements like the Dadaists, Surrealists, International Lettristes/situationists and Fluxus. In the UK, the canon includes Richard Long and Hamish Fulton’s emergence from the broader context of Land Art and literary psychogeographers like Iain Sinclair (1998, 2003), Alan Moore (2000), and Peter Ackroyd (1993). The more obscure Psychogeographical Associations of the 1990s (Home 1997; Bonnett 2014; Smith 2015) are sometimes footnoted.

The “canonical” narrative places twentieth-century radical walkers and movements in a genealogical relation to Romanticism, implying continuity despite their explicit breaks from it. Contemporary mainstream literary walkers, like “new nature writer” Robert Macfarlane (2012), philosopher-hiker Frédéric Gros (2014) and journalist Sinclair McKay (2013), write, often appreciatively, of these iconoclasts, even adopting some of their tactics, only to fold these practices back into Romanticist walking. However, when I conducted an email questionnaire among “new walkers” (18 responses from a range of activists, art-walkers and psychogeographers, over 9,000 words of response to seven “open” and yes/no questions) over half (11) rejected any influence from the Romanticist tradition and/or saw their work as a break from Romanticism (7); five of the walkers identified with Romanticism and three saw their walking as a critical extension of, or in a continuum with, it.

Recent accounts of the latest generations of radical walkers (Evans 2012; Collier 2013; Richardson 2015a) have begun to uncouple them from the Romantic “canon”. The ambulatory practices of this “new movement” (Smith 2015) of walkers, made up partly by what Richardson (2015b) calls ‘the new psychogeography’ shift across sharply different relations to both Romanticism and recreational walking, with over half (11) of my questionnaire respondents identifying their walks with either recreational or everyday ambulation. The ‘new’ walkers are taking advantage of earlier movements’ breaks from functional and ideal walking to make their work increasingly in the ruptures and margins of everyday and recreational walking.

The many "whys"

‘Why Walk?’ Colin Speakman (2011) titles a chapter of his Walk! His answers are more philosophical than corporeal or geographical; and this holds good for the general introductions to recreational walking surveyed for this chapter. No matter how technical or anecdotal they become, they usually begin by citing aesthetic, philosophical or spiritual motivation.

S. P. B. Mais opens We Wander in the West (1950) with a rich conflation of metaphors from colonialism, serial monogamy, the idea of genius loci, female Christian pilgrimage and sexual conquest: walking ‘in the company of Egeria, not always the same Egeria. I have gone through life in search of Egeria and Egeria and I together have gone through life in search of the West Country. Both are elusive’ (Mais 1950: 13). In Mais’s construct, walking the landscape is an exploration/exploitation of eternally renewable territory with ‘always something fresh to discover’ (Mais 1950: 13). His corporeal/spiritual/geographical assemblage is echoed in later books on hiking and rambling that equally valorise a ‘spiritual sense . . . planting our feet on grass . . . asserting our true, organic natures’ (McKay 2013: 4), ‘becom[ing] part of your surroundings, at one with the environment’ (Speakman 2011: 16), ‘an opportunity for mental and spiritual renewal’ (Lawrence et al. 2009: 9), ‘the land makes mystics of some of us’ (Evans 1998: iv), ‘[T]he impulse to go walking . . . [is] a religious one’ (Murray 1939: 2).

For some writers, recreational walking constitutes an extreme nostalgia: ‘able to rediscover the instinctive simplicity of our cavemen ancestors . . . on foot’ (Marais 2009: 8); the more literary express such ideas very personally: ‘love and landscape were all that I needed . . . “It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it”’ (Parker 2011: 120), ‘[T]ramping brings one to reality’ (Graham 1936: 1), ‘[W]alking unlocks the treasures’ (Cracknell 2014: 30). Even the more “down-to-earth” volumes suggest a psycho-physical motive: ‘nothing more therapeutic than roaming’ (Bradbury 2010: 13).

Frédéric Gros (2014: 181) historicises such sentiments, associating them with ‘the great romantic walker’ for whom walking is ‘a ceremony of mystic union, the walker being co-present with the Presence . . . [and] testimony to . . . mystical fusion’. In the intensity of such “at-oneness” with the Romantic sublime, the walker can experience diminution (a ‘real sense of the . . . massiveness of the hill compared with your minute sense of self’), ‘tranquillity’, ‘emptiness’ and ‘near silent activity’ (Speakman 2011: 15–16). These are parts of a common narrative of the hiker walking themselves into anonymous symbiosis with the landscape, significantly under-representing the impact of the walker on their environment, a directly localised and site-specific spirituality served by parallel and contradictory narratives in which rural pedestrianism is either a near universal ‘form of religious practice in itself ’ (McKay 2013: 4) or disappearing; either way, an essentialist resistance to the evolution of ‘Homo automobiliensis’ (Speakman 2011: 10).

It is far rarer to find an acknowledgement, like Morris Marples’, that ‘mankind . . . has seldom regarded walking as a pleasure’ (Marples 1960: xiii), though some of the more recent guides note that walking remains an economic necessity for the world’s majority. Colin Speakman begins his ‘Why Walk?’ chapter: ‘[W]alking is what we all do. To walk is to be a human’ (Speakman 2011: 9). Babies are not human? Those with disabilities preventing them from moving bipedally are not human? Of course, the writer has no intention of implying any such things, but such is the enthusiasm for loading the ‘gentle art’ of walking with universal meanings and virtues that such excesses blurt out. Yet competition, property accumulation, normativity and colonialism are among the roots of recreational walking, from sports ‘originated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by upper class gentlemen who . . . placed wagers on their footmen’ (Speakman 2011: 14), in mass-based, often anti-establishment, walking clubs originating in Central and Western Europe, in mountaineering clubs with principles of risk and conquest, and in an ecological strain of walking initiated by the Sierra Club in a Yosemite almost entirely cleared of its indigenous inhabitants (Solnit 2000).

Representations of landscape, ramblers and rambling – valorised in the idea that ‘cultural significance . . . lies not so much in the movement of one’s legs but in what such movement symbolises’ (Coverley 2012: 11) – explicitly and implicitly express contradictions that inhibit the fusion to which romanticist walking aspires. A footpath, when represented as a ‘pretty, but pointless, thing in itself, a truncated chuff from nowhere to nowhere, and connected at either end . . . by the inevitable car’, becomes a separation from the “real world” (Parker 2011: 101). A walking defined by moralism (a ‘love of plain living and high thinking which permeates the rambling fraternity to the present day’ (Speakman 2011: 58), aversion to risk (‘I would rather die walking than die of boredom reading about how to walk safely’ (Gooley 2014: 3)), or restriction (‘a gloriously middle-aged pastime’ (Parker 2011: 320)), undoes the “base” transgressive and sensual work of Romantic fusion articulated by Mais (1950) and Gros (2014). Describing Rights of Way Improvement Plans as ‘beat[ing] themselves up about the lack of disabled people . . . young people . . . ethnic minorities’ (Parker 2011: 292), unintentionally reveals how the “wild and unconstructed” landscapes with which the Romantic walker is to fuse elementally, are, in fact, cluttered with obstructive and constructed representations.

Other tensions emerge within these publications, between walking as a righteous but functionalist exertion (the countryside as “Green Gym”; walkers’ hands cluttered with Nordic poles, reducing sensual contact with the terrain), a corporeal re-statement of common rights over property, and an inward-looking ambulation relegating the landscape to a visual background for contemplation. Entanglements of such conservative and radical, appropriative and ecological, romantic and materialist views are complexly manifest within individual walking groups, and within and between memberships and leaderships of walking organisations (Parker 2011).

The anthropologist Tim Ingold (2012), who has written widely on walking, has attempted to distil, personify and resolve some of the above contradictions (rather than transcend them, as Gros attempts) through “opposing” understandings of landscape perception. Ingold reveals deep structural and philosophical differences at work in seemingly minor characteristics of rambling. Ingold sets historian Simon Schama, who privileges the imagination in relation to the terrain – ‘landscape is the work of the mind . . . built as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock’ (Schama 1995: 6–7) – against the perceptual scientist James J. Gibson who champions a whole-organism immersion in a material world indifferent to representations, interpretations and imagination (in Speakman’s Walk!, both positions appear, without apparent contradiction, on the same page: 15!). Ingold (2012) favours a Gibsonian, interwoven, active sensing over the abstracted mental processes of ‘culture, convention and cognition’ (Schama 1995: 12), but he baulks at Gibson’s ‘clos[ing] the gap between the reality of the world and our perception of it . . . by opening up a chasm between perception and imagination’ (Ingold 2012: 3).

Seeking to ‘find a way beyond these alternatives’, Ingold (2012: 3) performs a very peculiar, but revealing, act of wishful thinking. Perhaps lacking a detailed knowledge of the latest generation of walkers, he turns to the photographs of walking artist Richard Long, despite their ‘conforming in every respect to the romantic ideal of the scenic panorama’ and their collection in books ‘designed to appeal to an aesthetic sensibility that perceives beauty in finished forms, and not in the processes that give rise to them’ (Ingold 2012: 16). Ingold proposes that we re-imagine these commodified images, encouraging passive consumption, as the mere slough of Schama’s (1995) viewpoint and as ‘bait to feed the market in fine art’, and as somehow releasing the reader to apprehend landscape ‘not in the unification of memory and rock . . . but in the never-ending, contrapuntal interweaving of material flows and sensory awareness’ (Ingold 2012: 16). Ingold suggests an aggressive détournement (a situationist-originated process in which moribund art products and ideologically constrained materials are broken and redeployed for unintended hybrid purposes, critiquing and destroying their original purpose) of both the products and sensibilities of Long’s practice, (including the latter’s parallels and similarities to the “whys” of Romanticism-inflected leisure walking). Ingold (2012: 16) urges the walker/reader to ‘leave this [Long’s] view . . . at the roadside’ and to walk ‘in an alternating movement of casting forward and drawing up’. Published in a collection of academic papers, Ingold’s strategy is bold, but yet to find its audience; a more receptive field awaits somewhere between the contradictions of recreational walking and the reparative practices of the new generation of walking artists and psychogeographers.

Rural and urban

Despite Stephen Graham’s (1936: 192–207) urban “zig-zag” walks of the 1920s and Geoffrey Murray’s 1939 prediction, inspired by Graham, of ‘walks undertaken in pursuit of the “Natural History of Streets”’ (Murray 1939: 305), recreational urban walking remains something of a novelty in recreational walking. So, while Speakman (2011) salutes The Ramblers’ (UK) diversification into urban walking, he still characterises urban paths as conduits to the rural hinterland and demonises outer-urban areas as monstrous labyrinths ‘with no pavement and poor signage . . . a bleak and forbidding environment especially in the hours of darkness . . . dangerous, unpleasant and threatening . . . no-go areas for pedestrians’ (Speakman 2011: 118– 119). Such a representation is contradicted in the UK’s larger cities by regular expeditions of psychogeographers (Richardson 2015a), walking artists and urban explorers across derelict wastelands (Edensor 2005), into retail sites (Richardson 2013), along routes of culverted rivers, through sewerage and other concealed systems (Garrett 2013) and around abject traffic structures (Sinclair 2003; Davies 2007).

In sharp contrast to the 15 (of 18) questionnaire respondents who regard urban and rural spaces as entangled, Frédéric Gros (2014) elevates recreational walking’s rural/urban walking binary to the level of philosophical category. In his account of Pedestrian Romanticism, the ‘urban stroller doesn’t put in an appearance at the fullness of Essence, he just lays himself open to scattered visual impact’, while the rural rambler in ‘the pure bosom of a maternal Nature . . . is fulfilled in an abyss of fusion’ (Gros 2014: 181). Gros might be thinking here of Richard Long, walking in ‘places where nothing seems to have broken the connection to the ancient past’ (Solnit 2000: 272), though, in the case of his much-favoured Dartmoor, Long must be ignoring the extensive nineteenth-century quarrying and the more venerable deforestation of the moor, or, perhaps, hikers imagining that ‘walking ancient paths . . . not only are we on exactly the same routes as our forefathers, we are also travelling in precisely the same way’ (Parker 2011: 115).

Yet, if any one group of walkers has truly explored an “abyss of fusion” it is the oft-maligned, urban, occult, late-twentieth-century literary psychogeographers (Ackroyd 1993; Sinclair 1998; Moore 2000), who have sought out and described cryptic patterns in the urban fabric and invoked an intensity of presence equivalent to anything in the literature of rural waking. This is acknowledged, if imprecisely and backhandedly, in McKay’s (2013: 180) description of ‘a cult enthusiasm among younger urban walkers . . . [for] divining the old spirit of each street . . . seeing the invisible lines of historical – even occult – energy that connect them’. When McKay (2013: 180) seeks to belittle these new ‘younger’ walkers as ‘actually romantics, in the old-fashioned poetic sense’, he not only misses the ambiguous relation between the latest generation of psychogeographers and art walkers (of which he seems to know very little) and Romanticism, but misidentifies the new generation of walkers with the ideas of a previous literary one. For while the same immersion as with both Romantics and occult psychogeographers is at work in the practices of “new” urban, suburban and edgeland walkers like Morag Rose (2015) and the Loiterers Resistance Movement, Gareth E. Rees (2013) and Nick Papadimitriou (2012), all of whom know either the members or writings of the older occult generation, they are peculiar in embracing difference and ambiguity (of signs detached from dominant discourses, occult or otherwise), the fracture of subjectivity (stepping back from the heroic), and clinging to the rim of the abyss not as an extreme moment on a mountain pass but as the modus vivendi of late capitalist psychic precarity (Smith 2010), to which Clive Austin devotes a full-length movie ( The Great Walk (2013)), the walk of uncertainty in uncertain times done anywhere.

This diversity and hybridity of tradition is reflected by the 18 questionnaire respondents (all of whom knew of the situationists, seven acknowledging profound influence), citing as influential 30 walking artists/activists (individuals or groups), 29 theorists, 25 theories, 10 artists/writers and five practices (with only the situationists mentioned more than three times). To take one of many possible examples: the reflexivity of the “new movement” is represented by the many “new” walkers adopting neo-vitalist ‘thing-power’ (Bennett 2010), even animist tendencies and a new phenomenology (Trigg 2014); walking artists drawing chalk and mud into their paintings, dragging ambulant architectures along footpaths. Terrain becomes meaningful, not just by the walker’s immersion in it, but by the terrain’s percept of the walker; something pre-empted by “tramper” Stephen Graham (1936: 207): ‘[Y]ou are not choosing what you see in the world, but are giving the world an even chance to see you’.

The new movement

Tina Richardson’s (2015a, 2015b) ‘new psychogeography’ has much in common with contemporary walking artists: the intense instability of its grounding on a public terrain under incremental threat from private property, its ‘focus on the affective’, ‘archaeological critique that excavates the signs contained in the terrain that might be contrary to the dominant discourse’, ‘physical enactment of placing one’s body in the terrain in order to read the signs therein’, and a resistance to binaries of ‘inside/outside, mind/matter and natural/manmade . . . bring[ing] these oppositions into a different focus whereby they become constructs that are overridden through one’s very movement through the space itself’ (Richardson 2015b: 241, 247).

Unlike the neo-psychogeographers of the 1990s, pulled between Marxian materialism, tedious algorithmic drifting and ‘mystical fusion’ with occult patterns, the ‘new psychogeography’, in common with the new movement of contemporary art walking, is reflexive, ‘you become part of the very landscape you are scrutinizing’ (Richardson 2015b: 247), and reparative, its dérives tailored for deconstructing binaries and repairing the outfall in pedestrian scores and “texts” that are ‘open and heterogenous . . . [characterised by] what might be called the stereographic plurality of its weave of signifiers’ (Richardson 2015b: 248, original emphasis).

As well as providing the entanglement (necessary for the second, reparative part of détourne-ment ) required by Tim Ingold’s proposal for re-making walking, Richardson’s (2014: 45) phrase, ‘physical enactment of placing one’s body’, reveals the gap that separates these kinds of walking from both Romantic and occult psychogeographical walking; their reflexive sensitivity to the performed nature of everyday life, their deconstruction of their own materials and forms of representation (as they use them), their postmodern sensibility to the mediation of aesthetics and iconoclasm, and their privileging of multiplicity (‘first and foremost . . . heterogeneity’ (Richardson 2015b: 250)) over the distillation of Essence or Presence. Their product is praxis, democratic but also provocative, in the positive sense of ‘encourage[ing] people to participate . . . anyone can do it’ (Richardson 2015b: 250–251).


Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, members of the first generation of UK walking artists, continue to make representations that cite a functionality recognisable to conventional hikers: journey duration, start and end points, route maps. Anyone meeting them by chance might easily mistake them for hikers. Immersed in the hiker’s terrain of choice (moors, long trails, mountain regions), they walk in the commanding tradition of Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer, evoking the apotheosis of the walker’s presence and fusion with spectacular place to which recreational walking, at various stages of dilution, aspires. Nevertheless, their intense solitude (Fulton’s artwork, No Talking for Seven Days, 1993), epic journeys at “heroic” pace (Fulton walking 120 miles of the Pilgrim’s Way without sleep, 1991) and Long’s physical interventions in and extractions from the landscape put a considerable distance between them and anything like leisure.

More significantly, perhaps, while Fulton has recently made choreographed walks with community participation, their art products do not “bait”, but successfully circulate within, the conventional art market and generate a passive, mentally appropriative consumption rather than provoke trespass. Equally, though probably less well known to recreational walkers, the first generation of UK literary psychogeographers continue a Romanticist line (to re-direct McKay’s (2013) misguided characterisation) inherited more from the often occult Neo-Romanticism of Arthur Machen, John Cowper Powys and Paul Nash than Wordsworth and Keats (Woodcock 2000); their literary and fictional output just as likely as Long to encourage passive consumption (though Iain Sinclair’s walk-based books like Lights Out for the Territory (1997) are probably, in their inspiring effect, at odds with this).

The latest generation of performative, postmodern walkers (artists, activists and psycho-geographers) has more in common with the iconoclastic break of the International Lettristes/ situationists; but without their retreat from engagement. Where there is product, other than walking itself, it often takes the form of documentation, handbooks and exemplary objects designed to encourage others to further exploratory walking rather than of commodities for new markets.

This ‘new movement’ of walkers places itself in ambiguous and critical, but not dismissive, proximity to the gaze and ethos of the leisurely stroll, at times borrowing from the practices of recreational walking. Rather than confrontation, this ablative, ‘just to the side’ of the ramble, is not ‘absorbed within a wider perspective’ (Speakman 2011: 16) of nature, implacable time, massive space, emptiness and near silence, but proposes a sociability, ordinariness and intense relation to the terrain (built and natural, rural and urban) that is both an abolition and an extension, an aufhebung, of Romantic “fusion”.

So, when writers on rambling describe their experiences of ‘different sorts of emotional resonance that each individual area has’ (McKay 2013: 9) or how

various sensory perceptions blend . . . elusive qualities that gave a place its own identity . . . subtle changes and moods of light, sounds, scent and smells, the lie of the land and texture of path or soil . . . a sense of history or of personal associations.

(Speakman 2011: 15) then they come close to describing new walking’s multiple layering (Hodge et al. 2013) and archaeological engagement (Pearson and Shanks 2001) with space; evidence of a potential ground for “new walking” within hiking and rambling’s territories.

Given their strategic positioning, valorising the everyday and the ‘to the side’ of the aesthetic, the ‘new movement’ and ‘new psychogeographers’ are well placed to gain leverage within the multiple contradictions of recreational walking; to embrace and redeploy immersive, sensual, ritualistic, contemplative and interpretative elements of Romantic, recreational walking. To expose, accentuate and challenge the contradictions of the appropriative, neo-colonialist products of Romanticist walking arts and ‘new nature writers’ and persuade leisure walkers to take a small step to the side of the conventions of their strolling/hiking/rambling to an agentive, non-appropriative walking; to walk in the gaps (both in the sense of ideological contradictions and affordances for trespass) rather than ‘in fusion’. To re-invoke recreational walking’s origins in rebellion: ‘Walking is protest’ (Speakman 2011: 151), ‘walking . . . . will always be subversive’ (Deakin 2000: 4), ‘the walker . . . represents pure anarchy’ (McKay 2013: 214).


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