Location: Dawlish , Devon, UK.
I chose to walk alone there only because it's where I live and I could walk straight out the door. It didn't feel challenging in the sense that it's not somewhere I feel at risk. It's not somewhere I'd ever be warned not to go (although people might think I'm the suspicious one, being out walking alone..!) But it was joyful and sensuous to walk in the dark through streets I know by daylight. And I took the track down to the sea wall, where it was dark except for distant lights. I walked along the sea wall with waves surging below and felt alive.
My feelings changed over the length of the walk. At the start I felt quite self-aware of the action and the ideas behind WalkAlone - the walk felt something like a performance. As it went on, I was jumpy and alert; pensive and overwhelmed; excited and eager to walk all night; and finally I felt relaxed - less like I was 'performing' the walk, and more like I was just doing it. And enjoying it. I felt I'd like to walk at that time more often - the town felt different, and the experience was refreshing.
I walked through streets I know well from daily life, but I'd never spent so long wandering them at that time of night. I felt curious, skittish, self-conscious. On the first part of my walk the area felt very lonely - I hardly saw anyone, and was startled when a man on a bicycle appeared suddenly behind me. It was familiar but changed, and my senses were on high alert. But on later parts of my walk, the town felt more comfortable and homely than I'd expected. It was comforting to see people out and about - even another woman walking alone with a pair of dogs. I had a conversation with two women waiting outside a night shelter to welcome anyone in who needed some support or respite. I hadn't really expected to meet anyone, so it felt more friendly and welcoming than I'd imagined. (Maybe it was also that I was more friendly and welcoming through being out on a meandering walk, and not *trying to get from A to B as usual). At the end of the walk I felt relaxed, refreshed, contented.
I got home feeling a bit reflective, but also happy that for me the journey had transitioned from something that felt 'serious' and self aware, into something that was a simpler kind of pleasure - less about the politics & significance. More about the physical experience. It left me feeling that I would enjoy walking at that time again - so often I get to the end of the day and just collapse, but this was a really energising, refreshing experience.