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Robert Macfarlane: The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
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Maybe something else for a stocking filler-

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane.

“Macfarlane's search in this book is for the ancient routes that criss-cross the landscape – mainly in Britain, but with occasional forays to more exotic spots. So we meander with Macfarlane not just along the old tracks of the Icknield Way and the Ridgeway, but also, more fleetingly, on "a branch line of the most famous pilgrimage route of them all, the Camino de Santiago" and on Buddhist trails in the eastern Himalayas, exploring the links between topography and belief. The subtitle of the book is "A Journey on Foot", but in reality it is not one journey, but many, and not all are on foot: some of the best passages are about the old seapaths and ocean roads linking the islands of the Outer Hebrides with Norway, Iceland and Orkney. Like the pathways that weave the countryside together, there is no central spine to this book. Instead it is held together by a tight matrix of ideas about "the compact between walking and writing", and how roads bind us to the land, and to our past.

“The poet and walker Edward Thomas (1878-1917) is a constant presence. It was his book on the Icknield Way that first led Macfarlane to his theme, and Macfarlane is fascinated by Thomas's idea of how an ancient road can be part of a ghost world "secretly sharing the landscape with the living" where you can connect with the thoughts, feelings and stories of previous walkers along the same footpaths: "walking as seance". He writes how "in the dusk of the Holloways, these pasts felt excitingly alive and co-existent – as if time had somehow pleated back on itself". Like Thomas, he is in love with the notion "that history issues from geography in the same way that water issues from a spring".”


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Littlestone
Posted by Littlestone
25th November 2012ce
13:29

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