I've undertaken a series of sporadic walks across London over the last few years accompanied by R. R blogged about a couple here and here some time back. London is an obvious place to walk for us. It’s size and density allows endless routes with endless possibilities for random diversions and tangents. Also from a practical point of view it’s easy to get to on the train from where we live (Cambridge), the public transport system allows for catching random buses or trains to go off on tangents and for ease of return home at the end. It has plenty of places to stop for food and drink and sheltering from heavy rain thus avoiding the need to plan ahead or carry anything much other than perhaps an A-Z for occasional reference.
I decided it was about time I started a blog. I kind of wish I’d done it before as I memories of previous walks (or walk/place related thoughts) have faded and got somehow merged together. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. There a danger that I might do future walks conscious of what I’m going to write about thus taking me out of the ‘now’ and making it more forced. On the other hand it will be fun to document them. I might try and recreate some of the old ones using whatever photos I have and piece them together. These will be less than perfect accounts both factually and in their coherence but maybe the better for it. I’ve also been doing walks and aimless wanders locally around Cambridge and anywhere else I get the chance to so will probably write about those too and other connected (and unconnected) things.
When we started doing the London walks we had both been reading London Orbital by Iain Sinclair and were inspired by his writing and psycho-geography more widely. Interest in psycho-geography and walking in general has grown massively since then. I’d refer anyone to ‘Walking’s New Movement’ by Phil Smith (Crab Man) for the low down on this. I’m not an academic or professional writer though, I’m strictly very much the amateur doing for the fun of it.
Associations, connections and random tangents and meanderings (physically and mentally) as well as odd/bizarre and interesting objects, sites and architecture are for me the positive sides of a good walk. As well as free exercise without thinking about it (much) and the mental feeling of wellbeing a walk can generate. It’s impossible not to notice things like gentrification, privatisation of public space and the ever-growing presence of chain shops/hotels/etc. These things could in the end dramatically reduce the pleasure and even possibility of going for an urban wander but until they do and while my legs still work I intend to make the most of it.