Robert Macfarlane writes: A few years ago, word reached me that several of my former students, turned friends, had founded an unnamed society whose main medium was the walk and whose main method was the re-tracing of variously interesting routes and paths: dot-to-dotting London cemeteries, for instance, or walking to Canterbury in a day along one of the pilgrim routes that sprang up so rapidly after Becket’s murder. Beer and blisters also seemed to be unsymbolically involved. Stories reached me about the walks and encounters, conveyed in different forms: e-mail, chess note, flickr stream, even, occasionally, real-world conversations. Then a year ago, the story-flow dried up. Had they been murdered by banditti in woodland on the Kent Weald? Forcibly encrypted in Highgate cemetery? No – it turns out they had been reconfiguring themselves, and launching a website called The Junket, inspired by a letter from Keats in which he reflects on the relationship between walking and writing (the latter being, as he exhaustedly put it, a ‘continual uphill journeying’), and dedicated to the ‘errant, boisterous life’ that good writing takes on. Here it is; recent subjects include learning poems by heart, obituarism, espionage and hitting the wall when running. Do pay a visit.
Robert Macfarlane | 31st October 2011