The New Walking, as I call it, is one of the themes I will be exploring in Gathering.

New it isn’t: Nan Shepherd was proposing proprioceptive – awareness of the body in space, its parts, and their relation to a location – ways of perceiving the landscape in The Living Mountain, written in the 1940’s. Shepherd sees the mountainscape prone, lying down, or topsy-turvy, looking out between the V-frame of her legs – a point-of-view taken up by Alice Ladenburg in her handstands project.



‘For the fleeting seconds of a handstand a different sort of world exists … Thoughts don't exist as processes, just sensations … The ground and the sky and whatever might be in between are seen without thought. 
As the balance fails, awareness is drawn in. Falling back to the feet, the world spins round and resumes as usual. The down-side-up.’ (Alice Ladenburg)
The New Walking isn’t walking either, in the conventional sense of striding ahead, and satisfying Naismith’s Rule. The practices that have been introduced, or revived, include as much looking and stepping slowly as walking at standard pace. Deirdre Heddon and Misha Myers Walking Library, Lydia Ashman, Ania Bas & Simone Mair's The Walking Reading Group, Hamish Fulton’s slow walks, and the place-aware walks and conspectus that I have presented on the Isle of Skye and in Galloway are a few examples of this movement.
This post is a collaboration with Alison Lloyd, self-styled ‘walking artist’. Alison and I first worked together on the Isle of Skye, where she and Luke Allan walked to Rubha an Dùnain, a location my legs couldn’t reach – walking for is another aspect of the New Walking. Alison then led a guided walk as part of a series of field events commissioned by Atlas. In 2014 she led a silent walk as part of a series of commemorative walks I conceived for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The sentences below were composed after conversations and observations drawing upon Alison’s work, as well as the thinking of the mountain guide, Sue Harper, who is based in Braemar. The three photographs were made on Dartmoor, during a walk made in 2015.

In the first photograph Alison
is enclosed in a stone circle, having contoured across from Yelm Head – a reminder of the strong affinities between the New Walking and Ancient landscape cultures, or, more typically, the antiquarian imagination of the relics those cultures left.

In the second she is checking her compass on Green Hill – being hesitant, lost, or confused are acceptable in the New Walking.

Finally she is pictured above her destination, Wistman's Wood, on Longaford Tor. This walk was in part a homage to Nancy Holt’s ‘Trailmarkers’ (1969)
contouring is the practice of awareness of map contours projected onto the features of the land

contours are neither up nor down: contouring is equilibrium

contouring is practiced in your mind and beneath your feet

contouring throws the eye ahead, on the level, to a feature in the future

contouring values burns and rivers as a measure of rhythm and decline – or street crossings, if you are in a city

in mist or darkness contouring sees what’s there if only you could

contouring walks a line through you

contours are the curves of a body

contouring is a form of energy conservation

contouring is the body meridian of the mountain

contouring follows sheep around the mountain

after Alison Lloyd and Sue Harper

Contouring is used to navigate around a hill following a contour ring. Altimeters determine which ring a person are on; timing is based on William W. Naismith rule of thumb for walkers in fair condition: allow 1 hour for every 5 km walking forwards; add 1 hour for every 600m. ascent. By learning their own pace a walker is able to estimate their location.

Alison Lloyd uses this mental technique to lead guided walks visualizing absent landscapes, or bringing a deliberate, patient human attention to a particular terrain.

The contour poem is after the writings of Charles Hutton who devised contour lines as a means to survey Schiehallion (1774) – a true monad, or monadh, the mass of this singular mountain was used to estimate the density of the earth. Alison and I are currently developing a future walk contouring on Schiehallion.

Edward Danson: Weighing the World
Alison Lloyd:

Alec Finlay, ‘conspectus’: Jan Hogarth, 2015
Alice Ladenburg: handstand project (Ludadzi Bridge, Malawi, 2013)
Walking Library for Sweeney’s Bothy: Luke Allan, 2013
Other photographs Alison Lloyd, 2015

Gathering was commissioned by Hauser & Wirth, for the Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar; the project was launched in 2015 and will conclude in 2018.

The artist residency at University of Aberdeen is funded by The Leverhulme Trust; the project was launched in July 2016 and will conclude May 2017.