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Get more from your daily walk by making a journey stick

Susan, our Walking for Health Administrator, explores the art and joy of making a journey stick and how creating your very own can foster a special personal connection to your local environment.

Published: 22/05/2023

I first came across journey sticks when I was working as a Ranger here in Scotland. 

Journey sticks (also known as nature sticks or story sticks) are incredibly personal keepsakes created by searching for, collecting and attaching a range of objects to a stick of your choice, whilst exploring your favourite path. I loved how our need to collect stuff is used to create something very simple and personal.  Both Native Americans and Aboriginal people used journey sticks as a visual map of where they had visited and I love that people from opposite ends of the earth have used this simple technique to record where they have been, and to tell the stories of these places to their families. Plus, it’s fun to do!

So, why not give it a go next time you’re out for a walk.

Everyone’s journey is different - if you usually walk the same route you will notice something different every day, and if you walk or wheel with a friend different objects will catch their eye too.

To make your own Journey Stick you will need:

  • A good stick. I always use the length of my arm from tip of my finger to my elbow as a measure – make sure it’s strong, and has character!
  • String or wool to fix objects to your stick – You can use coloured wool to represent things along the way.
  • It is very important not to pick wildflowers or other living plants, so only choose objects that have already fallen to the ground.

Whilst on your journey, start at one end of the stick and attach objects that represent or remind you of particular points on your journey and tie them to your stick in the order you find them, working across to the other end of the stick as you walk or wheel along your favourite path. You may collect a pretty leaf, interesting stone or other treasures as a reminder of where you have been, what you achieved that day and as a prompt to tell others about your walk.  Or you could just hang it in a tree for others to enjoy.