As you will probably have guessed, I do an awful lot of urban wandering (hence the name – if you haven’t already twigged!) and I thought that I would first introduce what it is and why I do it and then share with you the things that I find and discover along the journey.
So, urban wandering is kind of like a flâneur but a bit more vigorous and random! Let me kind of explain a basic version of my urban wandering and of course the background.
Back in my student days with lack of money and an abundance of time, Jit and I would wander the streets of Manchester mooching around, looking at things, people watching and visiting the hidden areas that usually only the homeless would visit. We would explore the hidden corners, where I would collect artifacts or ‘souvenirs’ of the trip and the space. It gave us a kind of purpose and got us out of the house and moving – even when I was on crutches and walking VERY slowly.
We then had a bit of a break form that, I can’t remember the exact reason, but we didn’t wander so much at all. That was until I started working in town and I would take walks at lunchtime for my well-being. I would explore areas around the canal, behind the train stations and search out places I had never walked before. I recruited Jit to join me and then when I began working from home it became more of a thing. A way to grab some exercise at the same time as downloading the information of the day so as not to bring it home with us. The well-being aspect has definitely been a big part of it and in keeping us going with it.
So now you know the background bit, let me give you a brief overview of what it can be like. We start out with the notion that we will walk for at least 3 miles for a typical after work walk (or ‘walkies’ as we affectionately call it!) and we will meet somewhere along Deansgate. We locate each other through the app Couple which gives us the option to share our location – this turns meeting into a game, but that’s another post in itself! Then off we go.
We take whichever route feels good, we turn down streets we have never been down, we look for things we wan to see and weave and turn through the backstreets, away from the crowds and through narrow spaces. During this time, we learn thing about our home city, I find things to research and all along, we download the day to each other. If one of us needs to up their step count (we’re Fitbit-ers) we may extend the walk, but we always play it by ear and see how it goes. There are no set rules, it’s all about playing and taking an adventure.
And it doesn’t have to be in town either, it can be anywhere that is ready to explore – main roads, industrial estates, neigbourhoods, villages, you name it!
The best bit is that you don’t need to follow the rules, you can do what you like and when you want to. Turn around one second after turning down a street, head to a green space that you spot instead of following your route to the station. The options are endless!
When you’re making it more of a day thing, plan it in advance. Choose a new city, grab a packed lunch and your train tickets and off you go. Your mission is to discover as much about the place as you can, on foot, exploring, adventuring and seeing as much as you can. be a tourist. Look up. Look down. Look left, and right. Notice everything around you and enjoy every exciting minute of it!
I hope that helps you understand more about urban wandering and I can’t wait to share more with you.
If you have any questions you’d like me to cover, please pop them in the contact form and I’ll do my best to cover them!
Keep walking (and cool if it’s hot where you are!!)