Wandering by Sarah Burgess

Wander (verb)

to walk around slowly in a relaxed way or without any clear purpose or direction

I walk a lot but I don’t see myself as a walker.  I am not the sort of person to bag a munro or set off on a long distance path, although I am mildly envious of the people who do.  I also love to read about walking, and even though I have been having difficulty concentrating on books during the pandemic, I have not had any difficulty with buying new books, so the To Be Read pile is increasing at an alarming rate.  Perhaps I should instead say that I love to collect books about walking.  One of my favourites is called “The Wander Society” – in it there is The Wanderers’ Creed which finishes with “Let us come to understand that we are immensely powerful, and that through our wandering we will change the world.”  Sounds good to me.

Throughout the last few months I have enjoyed wandering through the streets and around the local parks. I have discovered that one particular park is much closer than I previously thought, and have enjoyed spending time in the woods a few evenings a week.  However it’s easy to get stuck in a rut so to encourage me to take a different route, I decided to investigate a method of walking used by psychogeographers.

A dérive is an unplanned tour through the landscape (usually urban, although I am currently investigating how it could be used in a rural setting).  Bringing a modern slant to an idea developed in the 1950s (check out wiki for a brief introduction), I downloaded an app and set off.  The first prompt was to follow someone with a shopping bag, from there I had to use the compass on my phone to walk west, I followed a pigeon, walked towards something red, and so it went.  And it was fun, I wandered streets that I hadn’t been to before, I found artworks and monuments and community centres that I didn’t know existed.  Best of all I found a small shop where a vegan bakery was having a pop up sale and got some delicious and unexpected treats for afternoon tea!  As, I said, I’m thinking about how we can use this idea to get people to explore their local greenspace, especially in autumn as there is so much to find and collect.  One of the prompts I would definitely use is “find (or create) a face” – I was ridiculously excited when I saw the face in the picture above on the pavement.

After all this time and all these articles, I don’t need to tell you again that being outside, being in nature, walking are all good for you.  Additionally, trying new things and going to new places helps keep your brain active and even helps slow time down.

If you prefer a more formal walk, Get Walking Lanarkshire health walks are starting up again now, initially they are only open to existing walkers but shortly they’ll be advertising for more people to join them.  Keep an eye on their facebook page for news.

Finally, as usual, do get in touch if you want any information on green health and outdoor activities.  Sarah.burgess@vaslan.org.uk