I first became interested in walking as a practice for exploring the world in 2004 when I began a project I called Paths of Desire in Corby, Northamptonshire. At the time I wrote:
When we walk we are not bound by the rules of the road... Paths of Desire is...about the freedom to make our own choices about where we want to go and where we want to be...
|Paths of Desire leaflet|
I also received a beautiful gift of a compass over Christmas. This got me thinking again about travelling without maps and why I have such a resistance to using a Sat Nav. A map and a Sat Nav give you pre-prescribed routes, they miss out the detail and get you there by a route that somebody else (planners) have deemed to be the "best" way. Your choice has been removed.
Yes, brilliant for getting about quickly and not getting lost... but what do you lose in not getting lost?
I have done a number of motorcycle tours across Europe, especially in the years before Sat Nav had been invented! My longest trip was to go to Brno in the Czech Republic and back. We had a map but it only covered western Germany and ran out before we reached Dresden. Completely lost and not knowing the language, we decided, well, we knew we had to go east... so we did it the old fashioned way, we just navigated by where the sun was and kept travelling more or less east until, sure enough, we eventually found Brno.
Who knows the route we actually took, I couldn't tell you now, even with a map. But if we hadn't just followed our instincts (and the sun!) we would have been travelling the well worn main roads laid down by others, and not stumbled across the small villages, beautiful churches in the hills, broken down buildings and beckoning street-ladies that we came across. As a result, my impressions of the Czech Republic at that time were multi-layered and fascinating.
The compass has the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost inscribed in the lid. It ends with the lines:
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference."
|On Monday we will be walking by water|
Later Paths of Desire projects are archived on my Thinkspace website.
If you are interested in motorcycle tours, my friend Duncan runs European tours, see his website www.bikeheart.co.uk
Come on a night walk! Dream Walking event, Friday 10th February, Nottingham, see the Sidelong blog for details.