Learning to Walk


Ten days from now we’re setting off on on a little experiment: we’re heading north to Cologne to see just what it’s like to do the kind of walk we’re planning for next year.

It won’t be anywhere near as long—this first attempt will take us from Cologne to Brussels, a distance of approximately 200km that Google Maps optimistically suggests is a forty hour ramble—and already we know we might have to compromise on some sections because of time limits.

But we’ll learn a lot. Most importantly we’ll learn just how much we can walk every day for real; and we’ll also get to experience just what’s it’s like to get that close to our environment and see the world on a human scale.

A walking pace is hard to plan for: when you travel by car, or train, you zoom out and see road distances and timetables. It’s reasonably easy to predict how long those powered journeys might take. But walking is so unpredictable and we already know that we’re not going to want to stick to roads. A quick search of Google Street View shows us some of the trading estates of Eastern Belgium that we’ll end up on if we don’t take the opportunity to plan as we go and follow the most interesting path.

So we need to try this out, to feel what it’s like and what we’re capable of. But even in the planning of this experimental walk we’re reminded of just how much the world isn’t built for walking. The mapped world as it is now is almost exclusively viewed from roads; close-up imagery is captured from the roofs of cars. How does this shape the way we experience the world?

I hope, as we undertake this journey, that we’re able to share ideas and perspectives on a slower, closer view of things. It’ll certainly help us plan better for next year, and maybe it will help us connect with others along the way. If you want to get our rambling updates by email you can sign up below.