The 26 Steps

26steps-logo3October 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of John Buchan’s famous novel, ‘The 39 Steps’. In the book, the action moves from London to Dumfries & Galloway and then back to Kent. In later film versions, the Forth Rail Bridge also features. The hero of the novel, Richard Hannay, travels through the landscape to avoid his captors.

The novel was a stepping off point for this @26Characters project around the theme of walking in the landscape. There is something mindful about taking the time to watch & listen as we walk along a route, observing the changing weather, hearing the birdsong or traffic noise, letting the motion of our footsteps relax our physical selves and open our minds. We were keen to capture the essence of walking in the landscape by encouraging a writing project influenced by psychogeographical writers such as Robert Macfarlane, Eddie Proctor (@Landscapism) and Bobby Seal (@BobbySeal1).

The project identified 26 short walks in the UK going from a placename beginning with each letter of the Alphabet to a place starting with the next letter in sequence (e.g. Boarhills to Crail). The walks took in a range of landscapes; rivers, woods, farmland, coastal fringes, urban areas and mountains.

Each writer was asked visit the location they were matched with to undertake the walk. They will be asked to complete three tasks:

  1. take a single B&W photograph that sums up the essence of their particular journey; this image is the front of their walk postcard.
  2. create a hand-drawn black ink sketch map that represents their perception of the journey from A to B including any memorable features marked along the route.
  3. produce a Sestude inspired by the landscape seen and heard while undertaking the walk.

Each of these 3 outputs would form a virtual postcard from the places explored.

The walks took place between March and May 2016. What resulted was a wonderfully rich & eclectic portrait of the landscape and its effect on us.

Enjoy dipping into the images, words & maps on the project website. We hope it inspires you to explore these walks or others in your own landscape.

Sandy Wilkie & Michelle Nicol (Project Editors)

Latest 26 images

Disused pub in Hoxton by Andy York
Photo by Lucy Beevor
Image by Tony Linkson
Found on the island of Giglio, Italy by Chris Bird.
26 Screenshot by Lara Muth
I live at number 26, and this is my bin!  Rebecca Thomas
Captured in Venice by Elen Lewis
26-jane
Distance markers on a disused railway in East Sussex. The Cuckoo Line.  By Tony Linkson
Distance markers on a disused railway in East Sussex. The Cuckoo Line.  By Tony Linkson
Distance markers on a disused railway in East Sussex. The Cuckoo Line.  By Tony Linkson
Spotted by Marin Lee at the Serpentine in Hyde Park
Spotted in Copenhagen by Helen MacKinven.
Spotted on the airfield of Tivat airport in Montenegro by Martin Lee
I took this picture in a fabulous vegan and raw food restaurant in Turin - Ezri Carlebach
Spotted in Capri by Laura Hunter
Woods near Jouqueviel, Midi-Pyrenees, 10 minutes after I had told my walking group about 26. They gave me a funny look. By David Mathews
Image by Ed Pritchard
Image by Lydia Thornley in Krakow
Spotted in Belfast by Jonathan Holt
From Christmas travels in Krakow by Lydia Thornley
Night time lamp from Christmas travels in Krakow by  Lydia Thornley
Daytime lamp from Christmas travels in Krakow by  Lydia Thornley