Friday, 6 September 2013

The Sun Walk: a continuous dawn to dusk walk in the direction of the sun

For some, a self-guided tour simply means taking a tour without a guide accompanying you and showing you the way. In this sense, the Memoryscape audio-tour of Victoria Park, reviewed here on thetourofalltours, could be described as self-guided. I found, however, that when taking that tour there was both a voice and map offering me directions along a distinct, predetermined route and that I either followed the tour as it had been laid out or I did something else. There was very little room for me to exercise my own choice of route and still remain on that tour. If I try to imagine a self-guided tour in a way that excites me I like to imagine it more as a tour that requires the walker's active contribution to a significant degree. This is, admittedly, a blurry definition and it might be good to do a few tests around the margins to see how well it stands up, but for now it works well enough for me.


This is an example of a self-guided tour I made in 2003, though it might better be described as a sun-guided tour. What I did was to begin this day-long tour at sunrise on Trafalgar Square and then walk in the direction of the sun until it set in the evening. Using the sun as my guide, I walked first eastwards, veered south as the morning wore on and then made my way more towards the setting sun in the west, though with less energy as my legs tired in the late afternoon and early evening, thus accounting for the asymmetric pattern of the walk. I finished south of Croydon. 



The ways the roads are laid out did not allow me to follow the sun as precisely as I would have been able to had I been on a vast expanse of open land. Instead, I had to work with the contours of the road layout which, in South London, is cut up and obstructed by the many overground train lines that criss-cross it. I was frequently confronted with a choice of paths and had to decide which of them would most likely allow me to continue walking towards the sun the most precisely. This, then, is a tour of South London that I would call self-guided as I both had the idea (which has almost certainly been done before but by whom or when I have no idea) and had to make many choices of which way to go in the moment of making the walk. I think of these two aspects of conception and execution, it is second, the choosing the path as I went that was the more significant. I believe it is possible, even inevitable, that when you take someone else's concept for a tour and then try it out yourself, you'll experience vastly different results.   

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