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Walkshops in the landscape

Local knowledge is central to these ‘walkshops’, which build data, as well as establishing relationships and outreach.

– Complex social settings
– International and national work
– Easily ignored groups

One of my areas of expertise is running workshops, both in the UK and internationally, that are based around the activity of walking. Local knowledge is central to these ‘walkshops’, which build data, as well as establishing relationships and outreach. All workshops focus on a particular area, and draw attention to its unique character and physical features. A new group of walking researchers coined the term ‘walkshops’ and they have helped me form new ideas around this way of working.

Mauritius workshop with the Coral Communities team and Reef Conservation. Co-led walk, talking about mangroves, boats and the reef. Photograph: Andy Hughes

Walking Maps

As part of a group invited to explore research methodologies concerned with walking, I’m seeking to co-develop an innovative visual method – Walking Maps – that I’ve already trialled with various stakeholders, including in the project Ruritage. In my workshops, walking is used as a tool to assess how people interact with their environment, as a way of creating a narrative, and also to promote reflection. Participants are invited to walk around a chosen area, collecting materials and objects that resonate with them, while facilitators ask open questions and record participants’ responses. At the end of the walk, the group creates an outdoor display featuring an outline of the route taken, the objects collected, and a record of responses.

A Movement Heritage Project: Wells, Shells, Saints and Saunterings

Following a project to restore a Neolithic quoit in Cornwall, we were keen to extend our local knowledge by exploring nearby Fenton-la, a ruined early medieval chapel. Aided by oral history exchange, we organised participatory walks – chosen jointly after democratic discussion – with the aim of reclaiming lost trails and forgotten connections to these two sites. Through the process of mapmaking and re-walking the land, we began to discover, for example, why paths had fallen into disuse and why it was important for local heritage. The project team has also adopted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to help gain funding.

You can read about the project here: Martin J, Serrano J, Nowakowski J, Dominica W. (2022) ‘Heritage Trails: to Sustainable Development Goals’, Pathways: Exploring the Routes of a Movement Heritage, Cambridgeshire: The White Horse Press. Available online

Mapping the Reens with Wendy Brawer of Green Map System for the project Shells, Saints and Saunterings. Photograph: Andy Hughes.

Mauritius workshop with the Coral Communities team and Reef Conservation. A walk led by Reef Conservation and the community to a mangrove nursery. Photograph: Andy Hughes.

Mauritius workshop with the Coral Communities team and Reef Conservation. The NGO's mangrove nursery on a co-led walk. Photograph: Andy Hughes

TAGSCAPE exhibition, workshop session and panel discussion, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London. Walking with participants in Hyde Park. Photograph: Andy Hughes.

Shells, Saints and Saunterings illustrated in Martin J, Serrano J, Nowakowski J, Williamson D. (2022) ‘Heritage Trails: to Sustainable Development Goals’, Pathways: Exploring the Routes of a Movement Heritage, Cambridgeshire: The White Horse Press. Image of Brother Petroc surveying Fenton Ia from its highest vantage point, The Reens. Photograph Peter Dewhurst.

Mapping the Reens with Wendy Brawer of Green Map System for the project Shells, Saints and Saunterings. Photograph: Andy Hughes.