The Walkbook front cover of book with an image looking up into trees on a red background.

Walking a Line for The Walkbook

July 29, 2022

Walking a Line: Encounters through drawing (A sensory engagement with the ground) for The Walkbook: Recipes for Walking and Wellbeing, published by Walking Publics/Walking Arts (2022).

I am delighted to have been commissioned by Walking Publics/Walking Arts to contribute to The Walkbook: Recipes for Walking and Wellbeing. 

The Walkbook was created in response to barriers and challenges to walking which were identified from a public survey by Walking Publics/Walking Arts during COVID-19. 

You can download your free copy here: 30 activities devised by artists to inspire and entice walking “during a pandemic and beyond it, indoors and out” including: 

bad weather · bored of walking · shielding · anxious · lack confidence · excluded · in pain · nowhere to walk · bored of walking the same route · cannot walk very far · frightened · lack time · can’t be bothered · isolated

My recipe, Walking a Line: Encounters through drawing is a sensory engagement with the ground and is placed alongside activities in the chapter ‘Mapping and Knowing’. I’d love for you to try it out and do let me know how you get on. Feel free to throw in some extra ingredients and variations too.

It includes pauses whilst out walking, to touch, draw, and connect with the surface of the ground; to think about the function of the path, its (im)permanence, as it is now and how it might have been shaped over time, from elemental influences to the movement of animals, vehicles and people. 

I really enjoy and value these quiet moments to engage with a place with all my senses. It gives me a chance to imagine its stories and tune into what lies beneath my feet.

Walking a Line: Encounters through drawing. A recipe for The Walkbook by Ruth Broadbent. Images, instructions and text over two pages of The Walkbook.

Walking a Line: Encounters through drawing came out of my own Groundlines travelled, drawing onto small squares of paper, taking pencil rubbings of the ground along the way. This is discussed in more depth in an article that I recently wrote for Living Maps Review, Spring 2022 – ‘Groundlines and Puddle Worlds: maps as records of real and imaginary worlds’ (click here to read it). 

From A Line Across England, following a chalk and flint line of ancient tracks, to the circular journey of An Island Line, and the watery edges of Five Rivers Line (Germany), I have continued to grow this body of work.

A row of small squares of paper spread out in a horizontal line, showing a mix of pencil ground rubbings and the written text on the back.

A similar activity was launched at Made of Walking, La Romieu, France, in 2017 when I invited participants to join me in drawing and walking a line. I repeated this invitation last year for the WAC International Arts Encounters / Conference – Walking as a Question, Prespes, Greece. Together these ground rubbings become part of an invisible network of connections with others around the world, creating a visual language and system of communication that crosses borders and boundaries. Each of us tuning into the elements, a landscape, a place, and noticing what is around us and beneath the surface of the ground.

This summer I am adapting it further, walking a line of footpaths in the direction of the sun, for the The Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography ‘Wish We Were Here’ 2022 #4wcop22

A small square of paper with a pencil ground rubbing on it, placed in situ on a sandy track that disappears into the distance.

I hope you enjoy taking the recipes in The Walkbook for a wander. The book is free to download and hopefully some of the extracts included here will tempt you to have a look. 

Also check out the #WalkCreate gallery at Walking Publics/Walking Arts for lots of creative inspiration from walking artists. For more information on the gallery and my works in it, see my blog post, ‘November News and Updates’.

Hands drawing with pencil onto small square of paper, making a ground rubbing. The ground is dry, compacted earth with a scattering of tiny stones.

You can download a free copy of The Walkbook here:

The Walkbook PDF


Hopefully “The Walkbook will provide people – individuals and groups – with inspiration to walk, and to keep on walking”.

It’s an invitation “to surprise yourself, see your local environment anew, leave messages for others, pause between steps…” and “Like any recipe book, feel free to adapt the contents to your personal needs and desires, and add your own unique recipes to the collection.”


* All text in quotation marks is from The Walkbook