Walking Library for the National Forest

Published: 3 March 2020

The Walking Library for Forest Walks is part of an arts project, launched by Professor Dee Heddon and Misha Myers, and supported by UofG, which combines reading with walking.

A library with a difference is coming to the National Forest this summer.

Perfect for people who love reading and walking, the Walking Library will be striding out as part of the National Forest Walking Festival in May and Timber festival in July.

Individuals and organisations with a connection to the National Forest in the East Midlands are being asked to make recommendations of the books they would take with them when walking in the Forest.

The books will then be physically sourced - donated or purchased – catalogued, ticketed, then browsed by walkers before being packed into rucksacks to be taken on a specific forest walk. Out on the trail, the walkers might pause a moment, share a passage from one of books, then continue on their way as the group reflect and chat about the books as they walk through the landscape. 

The Walking Library is part of an ongoing art project launched in 2012 by artists Professor Dee Heddon and Misha Myers, supported by the University of Glasgow. Amongst other editions of the Walking Library, they have curated an urban library, a women’s library, and a Scottish bothy library. In each iteration of the Library, the books reflect and ‘speak to’ the context of the walks. 


The Walking Library for Forest Walks is likely to contain books and writings about trees and forests, ranging from the artistic, creative and poetic, to the autobiographical, factual, environmental and ecological.

Artists Dee and Misha said: “The Walking Library is a library that carries books by foot. It brings together people, books, walking and landscapes. Each Walking Library edition is unique to its environment, and we are delighted to be bringing it to the National Forest! Trees are in everyone’s minds at the moment so there couldn’t be a better time to be thinking about how we can all connect and relate more to the Forest.”

Jo Maker, Festival Coordinator, National Forest Company, said: “Walks in the National Forest are, by turn, exhilarating, gentle, companionable, intriguing and challenging – just like a good book! We are thrilled to be commissioning a new Walking Library for Forest Walks. It will be fascinating to see the titles that people suggest for the Library, and we are excited to be able to support the creation of such a valuable and interesting resource for the communities of the Forest.”

The Walking Library for Forest Walks will make two outings during the National Forest Walking Festival (16/17 May) and two more at Timber festival (4/5 July).

At the end of the each walk, participants will be invited to note down their thoughts about the experience, or draw a map tracing it. These will then be collected to make the final book of the Walking Library for Forest Walks, one which draws on the walkers’ experiences to make a physical record of the walks themselves. Each walking participant can also suggest a book for the Walking Library. As a memento of their walk, each participant is presented with a Walking Library rucksack patch.

The Walking Library for Forest Walks has been commissioned by the National Forest Company, and will be housed as a collection in the Forest, for educational, health and community purposes. A library catalogue of all the books suggested and donated, along with the reason for each book’s selection, will be available online. The Library itself will be displayed at Sharpe’s Pottery Museum throughout the course of the National Forest Walking Festival in May, at Timber festival near Ashby de la Zouch 3 – 5 July, and then held at the National Forest Company offices in Moira, to be used at local library and community spaces and on future Walking Library for Forest Walks excursions.

How to suggest a book for the library

If you want to suggest a book for the library, Dee and Misha offer the following prompts to help you think of the perfect book to take for a walk in the forest:

  • What book would help you see the forest for the trees?
  • What book would provide seeds for thought and future forests?
  • What leaves would you want to turn and share?
  • What forest stories stretch both legs and minds?

Books can be for adults, children and young people. Find out more and add your recommendation by filling in the simple online form at https://www.nationalforest.org/campaign/the-walking-library by 1 April 2020. 

The National Forest

The National Forest area covers 200 square miles of the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Its objective is to increase woodland cover within its boundaries from an initial six per cent to about a third. No multi-purpose forest on this scale has been created in the UK for one thousand years. More than 8.9 million trees have been planted so far, trebling the proportion of woodland cover in the Forest to over 21 per cent.


First published: 3 March 2020

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