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A British obsession?

12 Feb, 2023

Over the years, musicians have worked out that walking can be inspirational. Beethoven, Mahler and Britten all used walking for inspiration; Tchaikovsky took a daily two hour walk after lunch, however, he would also take a brisk stroll each morning too, and was most put out if he hadn't gone for a walk. French composer, Erik Sartie walked six miles every day to work and back, and musical experts say you can hear his paces in his compositions.

We learnt this and so much more from a BBC Radio 4 programme broadcast before most were awake, but we cheated and listened to it on BBC Sounds. We were awake this morning however, to listen to Will Self's Point of View, that explored the Derive, as he invited us to get lost on foot.

Both these programmes got us thinking more about walking and why it continues to be so popular among Britons. The UK boasts more walking artists than any other country, more sound walk composers, more walking festivals, more charity walks, and we have a national charity with hundreds of thousands of ramblers, and campaigning groups vying for the media spotlight and the national and local government ears. There's a project to create a national walking network, linking up thousands of miles of 'rights of way', called "Slow Ways UK", and a campaign to expand the area of land on which one is allowed to roam, wild camp or swim in rivers and lakes.

This year, the South West Coast Path, Britain's most famous and most walked national trail celebrates its 50th anniversary - the UK's poet laureate Simon Armitage has written about it; Raynor Winn's 'Salt Path' was a national bestseller for more than 18 months; and our favourite book about it, is Mark Wallington's "500 mile walkies" - we would love to know, what is your favourite book or walking art intervention on the South West Coast Path?

For now, keep walking!

Co-founder of walk · listen · create

15 Feb · Wed · 20:00 (UTC) · Online
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26 Feb · Sun · 11:45 (UTC) · Sint-Veerleplein, Gent, België
As part of the annual Terminalia Festival of Psychogeography, Ienke Kastelein and Witold van Ratingen organize a participative walk in Ghent with choreographic and textual elements: a turning point, with a Janus Head handkerchief as props. Keep reading
27 Feb · Mon · 19:00 (UTC) · Online
We want to uncover the forgotten or not yet revealed walking compositions – will you help us in our detective work as we search through archives and make connections with walking artists, performers and writers across the globe? We recently posted an enquiry on the Walking Artist Network, asking walking artists to ‘fil... Keep reading
28 Feb - 4 Apr, 2023 · 40 Bernard St, London WC1N 1LE, UK
This in-person course hosted by Open City Docs is for beginners looking to work creatively and develop their skills in field recording to produce their own soundscape composition. We will look at fundamental theoretical and conceptual debates in the area, the basics of field recording, acoustic ecology and soundwalking... Keep reading
01 Mar · Wed · 23:00 (UTC) · Philadelphia, PA, USA
What does it mean to walk an edge? Edges can be peripheral. Edges can be liminal. Edges can be edgy. Six writers will read selections from Ways of Walking and discuss the edges they have walked, both literal and metaphorical. Keep reading

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Upcoming events

15 Feb · Wed · 20:00 (UTC) · Online
How can we use art to inspire words? Ekphrasis translates as ‘description’ in Greek and, today, an ekphrasis is used to mean a literary description of art. In effec... Keep reading

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