A Book Of Very Very Very Short Walks
What they lack in length, they make up for in intensity.
This is ‘book’ 20 in the series The Impossible Books of Keith Kahn-Harris. The cover was created by Gus Condeixa. For more on this series, read the introduction here.
What sort of book is it?
How likely is it that I will write the book?
I’m quite tempted, I must say. Perhaps it’s something I could compile over a period of years.
Am I happy for anyone else to write the book?
Torn on this: a guide like this would be really useful for me personally, but I’d be somewhat jealous.
Walking is good for us, on that everyone seems agreed.
It keeps you fit, it slows down the frenetic pace of life, it attunes you to place in ways that are impossible inside a car, train or plane. Walking books span entire literary genres — from no-nonsense guides to walks to take in the countryside or city, to erudite psychogeographical meditations on our relationship with space and place.
One assumption seems to run through the various advocates of walking: that a good walk is a long walk. How long is long? Certainly something that takes longer than a few minutes to complete. After all, what would be the point of a walk of a few minutes. You can’t get fit from it and you can’t attune yourself to the landscape in such a short time.
Some of us, though, don’t have much choice. Constrained by health issues, by lack of mobility or simply a lack of time, we appear to be cut off from the physical and spiritual delights of walking. I myself, as a high-functioning sufferer from chronic illness, can only manage an hour or two at most before self-destructing; many people can only cope with much much less.
Well I want to walk too. They just have to be short walks, and on a bad day, very very very short walks.
It’s not only discriminatory to ignore the possibilities of short walks, it’s also a failure of imagination. Might the short walk not open up an intensity of experience that gets lost in longer walks? On a ten-mile hike, the details of each segment may blur together, on a short walk each metre is precious. And are there not places where a long walk simply becomes repetition?
The Book Of Very Very Very Short Walks is both a walking guide, complete with maps and instructions, and an ode to the power of discovering tiny stretches of place. The walks will be both rural and urban. What they lack in length, they will make up in intensity. Each one will be all killer, no filler.
I’m still deciding on which walks would work best for the book. If you have an idea for one, please post a reaction to this post or write a highlight here — I am happy to post these ideas here.
And check out my other travel book for people who can’t walk far: The Wilderness For The Rest Of Us