Earlier in the research process for Into the Mountain, we were joined by Jean Langhorne, who led us on one of her favourite walks from Glen Feshie onto the Cairngorm plateau.  We explored some of the main elements of her Placefulness work, in particular, how walking can be used as an embodied and attentional practice; as a means to enhanced sensory perception and an experience of reciprocal interaction with place .
In addition, Jean’s knowledge of the land management of the glen and the ecology of the alpine zone, highlighted our observations and understanding of the variety of upland vegetation we encountered.
Below, Jean shares some information on her practice of “Placefulness” and a short piece of writing.

PLACEFULNESS: Sensory Engagement and an Embodied Connection

“Placefulness” can be described as an embodied and mindful practice to engage deeply with place. Jean’s personal solo practice, is inspired by Nan Shepherd’s “The Living Mountain” and her description of walking as a means to embodied knowledge, sensory perception and deep engagement with place. It uses walking as an embodied and attentional practice and includes such key elements as:

  • A phenomenological approach; privileging a subjective experience of place and an awareness of perception as an interactive participatory encounter between self and place.
    “Place and mind may interpenetrate until the nature of both are altered”
  • Non goal-oriented walking; slowing down and paying attention, cultivating non-egocentric values, humility and the possibility of enchantment.
    “Knowing another is endless. The thing to be known grows with the knowing”
  • Slow knowledge: literacy of place and direct experiential knowledge of wildlife.
    “But they are not in the books for me – they are in living encounters, moments of their life that have crossed moments of mine”
  • Perceptual Awareness: developing skills of attentiveness, mindfulness and quiescence.
    “not bedevilled with thought but living in the clear simplicity of the senses”
  • Curiosity and Playfulness: experimenting with different perspectives and modes of consciousness.
    “to recapture some pristine amazement, not often savoured”

The Living Mountain inspires us to “live all the way through” by using all of our senses; to experience sensory immersion and develop a personal embodied response to a place by WALKING!


I am connected to my body.
And through my footfall,
my lungs and skin,
my eyes and ears,
I am connected to the reality
of the world,
known physically.

Alive to the rhythms of nature around us.
We can discover
The great simplicity and beauty of our life
As an animal,
Here on Earth.

Jean Langhorne