Free River: A Literary Soundwalk


  • Ellen Wiles
  • Nicholas Allan


If a river could tell a story, what would it sound like? This immersive literary soundwalk narrates the multivocal story of a
river which is the subject of a radical climate adaptation experiment: it is being set free from the narrow channel created for
it by humans, and is being allowed to decide where it will go through the land. At the same time, surrounding farmland is
being rewilded, and new species, including some that had previously been wiped out by humans – including the beaver –
are back, and have a new chance to thrive. At a time of climate and biodiversity crisis, this landscape revolution offers a
trickle of hope. Moving between the words of the water and the creatures that live in and around it, this work explores the
transformative possibilities created by inhabiting non-human soundworlds and experiences through a combination of
literary narrative and spatial sound.
This literary soundwalk is currently in development. It is a collaborative creation between Ellen Wiles, a creative writer,
anthropologist and curator, and Nicholas Allan, a sound recordist and designer, specialising in nature and wildlife sound.
The work has been commissioned by The National Trust, UK.