Maps and getting lost by Karen Alderson


By studying both the topographical map and Google maps I have created a circular route that follows the roads marked for widening on the original map.

The route begins on the A629 Keighley Road at the junction for Ovenden Road and travels up the A629, takes a right onto Shay Lane, travels for a mile then takes a right onto Holdsworth Road then first left onto Brow Lane.

The route carries on to Windy Bank Lane where it reaches Halifax Road turns left and then first left onto Roper Lane.

At the end of Roper Lane it turns left onto Green Lane, first right onto Taylor Lane,  left onto Ned Hill Road and first right onto Syke Lane.

At the end of Syke Lane it joins the A629 bears left and travels 3.5 miles where it reaches the starting point.


The route is approximately 8 miles which I intend to drive, cycle and walk on separate occasions, filming each journey and writing up my experiences. I will draw & take photographs.

Although this route has the topographical map as its origin I intend to follow hunches and be open to distractions, conversations, and random happenings.  I may not stick to the route, it is just an initial loose itinerary from which I can change and move away. I have no preconceived ideas of what may happen and neither have I looked at images of the route or read up about the history of the area although by looking at the old map I have been influenced by zooming into the faded place names.

During my work to identify the route certain points on the old map are present on the Google and OS maps. e.g. The Golden Fleece pub at Bradshaw, this is suggesting a textile piece where at certain points two layers of fabric or paper can be stitched together or layers eroded to show fabric underneath.  This echoes the palimpsest metaphor where I am overlaying the old with new routes but at points the old information remains.  By walking the route I will be recording my embodied experience as research.

It feels that I should have researched the history of the area but I am resisting doing so as I do not want this to influence my subjective experience. I cannot propose that I will find or produce any notion of an objective truth as this does not exist, my aim is to produce a piece of work that has multiple meanings which opposes the meta narrative of place having one “official” “reading”.

The first journey by car

It is Saturday 24 September, 15:30, I’m tired because I travelled from Devon this week where I met friends who I had not seen for 37 years. The whole experience seem to compress the past and present together and I found it difficult to maintain my present sense of self as the dynamics of the place & the past were so powerful. This pull to return to important places and release parts of myself has become too urgent to resist. I think about this on the way to Halifax.  I do not have any personal history with the route I am about to traverse which is a relief.

I locate Ovenden Road and drive up towards Shay Lane, I am not using a Satnav and am relying on my memory of the route and a print out. Shay Lane is written on the road in the right filter lane. I follow the road assuming that it will take me straight to Halifax Road.  I am wrong. In 10 minutes I find myself back on the A629 as Shay Lane curves in a horseshoe fashion back onto it. I am familiar with this section of the route  and know that I am approaching Halifax yet I am looking for Roper Lane as part of me keeps wanting to follow my plans and not accept the unexpected situation. I pull up and check the location on my phone and compare it with my paper map and realise that I needed to turn right onto Holdsworth Road then first left onto Brow Lane. I enjoy the experience of finding how one road links with another through the process of getting lost.

I am also distracted as I have borrowed a sports camera and rigged it up in the car but the display screen keeps on cutting out so I’m not sure whether it is recording. I am not taking any notice of the external environment apart from the road names, the area off the A629 is an place I have never been before.

The route seems longer and steeper than I imagined, I decide not to cycle it and to break the walking journey up into at least three sections. I am preoccupied with planning where I will park and begin to question why I am doing this at all whilst simultaneously enjoying the challenge of finding the route. A recent memory of being a patient at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is triggered, the consultants name being Mr.Holdsworth, images of the side ward compete with the wide open scenery the higher I climb. I am thinking about walking the route and being able to stop and take in the details of the environment when I miss the turning for Taylor Lane, a cobbled road which reminds me of walking home from Bentley Street Junior School in Nelson, I look on Google maps later & discover that it is no longer a school.

I write my notes up in the car otherwise I will forget details . I am anticipating how my relationship to the route changes over time and how I will document this. I contemplate Freud, Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (1914) and Screen Memories (1899), the exploration of childhood memory, why we return to fragments of them later in life and how the mind reconstructs memories through a process of compromise between the need to remember and the need to repress. Secondly, the act of repeating is a displacement activity as a way of keeping certain memories repressed. We will not find the thing we are continually looking for, the answer lies in becoming aware of the constant need to search and what we are avoiding by searching.




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