Walking methods in landscape research: moving bodies, spaces of disclosure and rapport

Hannah Macpherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Walking methods or accompanied visits are increasingly being used to investigate people’s encounters with landscape. Walking methods are often celebrated for opening up new spaces of disclosure, building rapport and generating new knowledge of landscape. However, stating these benefits of walking as a research method has now become somewhat of a methodological orthodoxy that risks ignoring the diverse contexts and cultural circumstances within which people walk and the relational qualities of landscape. Walking methods do not simply ‘uncover’ people’s responses to landscape, they open particular relational spaces of ‘people-landscape’. Furthermore, walking does not just open up research avenues, it closes them down too. This paper explores in more depth these propositions and the complex interplay between people (as social and embodied beings), walking and landscape. The focus is on examples drawn from walks utilised as method, walks for pleasure and walks for pilgrimage, where I propose some features of the walk and the cultural context of the walker’s body that should be given critical consideration when adopting a walking methodology. These include: the rhythm and style of the walk, the walk route terrain and distance, and the fitness and embodied dispositions of the walker. I then question further the presumed utility of ‘rapport’ that leisure walks and research walks are often thought to create. In so doing, this paper offers some critical insights for researchers of landscape who are considering adopting a walking methodology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-432
Number of pages8
JournalLandscape Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Landscape Research on 18/05/2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/01426397.2016.1156065


  • Landscape perception
  • walking methods
  • walkers
  • mobile methods
  • embodiment


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