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Forty walks to trail your birthday

 Birthday greetings to Talking Walking celebrating its fifth birthday this year.

Our guest this month is Dee Heddon who teaches theatre studies at the University of Glasgow. Dee is particularly interested in aesthetic walking practices and is the author of the book “Autobiography and Performance”. In her research for the book, she found all the books that had walking at their heart, were all written by men and this led Dee to explore further women’s role and involvement in walking art practice.

This Talking Walking interview was recorded at the Sideways Walking and Art Festival. It was recorded on the first day of a 375 km walk across Belgium and Dee is carrying a library of books on her back. During the festival a day’s walking could be up to 30+ kilometres so we catch a rather energetic Dee at the beginning of her journey.The concept of the ‘walking library’ sprouted from research into walkers who carried a book with them, a companion read. The vision coming to mind of the solitary walker carrying a book to accompany the journey is a romantic and endearing insight to what lifts the spirit when solitude surrounds you. The books in the walking library were chosen by recommendation from friends and colleagues, some were about walking, others had a strong connection to the person who had recommended. The library ended up with ninety books carried on the way by a rota of four volunteers. When Dee turned 40 recently, rather than celebrating with a party, she sent forty friends a small box containing a compass with an invite to  recommend a walk as a gift to her. Dee admits that she is ‘rubbish at reading maps’ and when asked to recommend two walks (although she has enjoyed all the journeys) it may be no coincidence that she chooses two linear walks; The Pembrokeshire coastal path and a canal walk both impossible to get lost on! Walking with your friends is about taking time to catch up and spend time together on a walk chosen perhaps due to a love of a particular walk or chosen as it is perceived to be an experience that will give pleasure as a gift.

Dee has loved all her walking gifts from a visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow chosen by a three year old, a languid walk through Parisian arcades, to the longest walk which followed a stretchof the Lea Valley in East London.  What comes across strongly is a connecting and enriching experience. We identify a sense of self thorugh linking with nature and our surroundings.  Whether walking alone, with friends or perhaps strangers, a deeper sense of belonging and connection can quickly develop.

Listen to Dee Heddon - http://www.talkingwalking.net

Date added: 7 March 2013

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