If you imagine writing on the move, you might think it a tricky task. The balance of notebook and pen as your new hiking boots bite into your ankles. Eager uphill swigs of warmed water. I enjoy being out in the open air more than anything, biking or walking to find a quiet spot, whip out the notebook and respond to my surroundings.
More often than not when I'm walking, such as with my dog or a friend, I don't write anything at all. But I'm still writing. I listen to the rhythms of the landscape, the weather, the birds and by the time I get home, certain images speak clearly. I secretly relish rain, especially walking home in it. It rains a lot here, so perhaps that is why Newcastle feels like home to me.
W.A.L.K is the snappy acronym for ‘Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge’. When I first heard about the project, set up by Mike Collier, Brian Thompson and Tim Brennan, I was enthusiastic about the idea of ‘art walking’ and using the outdoors as a space of shared experience, of journeying as a practical mode of research.
In conjunction with the Bewick Society, W.A.L.K. held a crossing from Newburn to Newcastle. Leading the way were artist and printmaker Marcia Ley and local natural historian, Keith Bowey. The Bewick connection is undoubtedly tied to the walk’s geographic location and routes. But given our altered landscape, the changing course of rivers and new buildings blocking old pathways, the stronger tie to Bewick remains with walking to observe and experience nature around us which like the weather, hasn’t changed since Bewick’s day.
Sally Evan’s pamphlet Bewick Walks to Scotland had familiarised me with Bewick’s expedition further North and I was fascinated by the idea of doing this walk on foot back then. Bewick walked without Berghaus wares and with such little other equipment to create a camp. It's something I'd like to try.