footprints and maps

The act of walking leaves a trace. The footprint is a potent mark of humans walking in the landscape. It is the beginnings of a map. It  records  where we have been.

Footprints through time

'Formby Footprints' from 7000 years ago and Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the Moon.

‘lorg-coise’: Gaelic for footprint, literally means 'a finding of foot’
John Stuart-Murray, Reading the Gaelic Landscape

lorg-      foot-

coise     print


In March 2014, I started a residency with Deveron Arts exploring and walking the Hielan' Ways area: A large expanse of land between the Aberdeenshire / Moray heartland in the north and the Cairngorm mountains in the south, encompassing the Ladder Hills.

The area is dominated by shooting estates, including the Cabrach and Glenbuchat. Although largely unexplored as a destination for outdoor pursuits, it contains areas of hidden beauty and stark wilderness, traversed by a web of ancient footpaths and tracks: the footprints of generations of walkers.

I made footprints in the Hielan’ Ways area.  I explored by the practice of ‘lorg-coise’(Gaelic),  the finding of foot – that is, by walking widely, and often slowly, throughout the area, identifying sites or landforms of significance.

From these explorations I created a book of  fourteen thematic map-drawings of walking routes with texts: lorg-coise.

I  collaborated with Alec Finlay and Ron Brander. Alec's project: Some Colour Trends explores a genealogy of place-names relating to colour. Ron's book 'Over the Hills From Huntly ' documents local heritage.

Some of the walks  I created adopt old paths; others follow no paths, travelling instead by burns, or features in the land – some visible, others hidden. Some of the walks may be more ideas than they are routes. I did not always stick to the routes myself – some I walked part of, others I travelled back to front. What they share is that they are all invitations, not prescriptions.


lorg-coise was published by Deveron Arts in Nov 2014 along with Alec Finlay's book- Some Colour Trends.

The books and maps were designed in collaboration with StudioLR.

They were launched at the Hielan Ways Symposium 14/15 November 2014 in Tomintoul.

Extracts of maps and text appear in this blog.

Detailed walking routes (OS1:25000 ) are available from Deveron Arts website.