The three men behind Weird Walk – which, prior to this hardback book, was a paper zine and website, and before that, well, a walk – navigate paths forged by those before them, in every sense. Their areas of interest are the parts of rural England, Wales and Scotland with especially rich associated mythology, folklore and archaeological curiosity, from stone circles to leylines to Neolithic tombs and fiercely regional customs. Centuries of available writing leads up, you feel, to The Modern Antiquarian, a 1998 compendium by Julian Cope – cult musician turned megalithic oracle, justly namechecked in this lighter, though involving, volume.
Split into the four seasons, the authors provide grid reference numbers and parking advice (as well as good alehouses) for each of their 32 chosen destinations, while adding enough colour that Weird Walk is a decent read even if you’re unlikely to visit (m)any of these sites. Each with various musical backgrounds, red meat is occasionally thrown to fans of obscure folk and experimental records, plus there’s a rudimentary drawing of metal band Sepultura on account of them having once recorded a song in Chepstow Castle.
The photos are lovely, as they need to be for a coffee table book, and Weird Walk’s stance on how the ancient and modern world coexists is keenly observed: development near the Devil’s Quoits, a henge in Oxfordshire, prompts them to imagine a future where “every fresh estate has its own stone circle”.
Weird Walk, Alex Hornsby, James Nicholls & Owen Tromans (Watkins)
Price: £19.99. Info: here
words NOEL GARDNER