Walking & Writing

A few weeks back the Sunday Telegraph asked me to write a feature for their Life & Style section on “walks with meaning” : spiritual walks, heritage walks, literary walks etc. This commission was right up my street (or footpath, to be precise) as there is nothing I love more than walking, and writing about it. The editor wanted 20 such “meaningful” walks and time was short, so most of the walks were those I’ve already done, or was otherwise familiar with. But writing the piece allowed me to re-live the walks and the landscapes, and the Telegraph asked three of their staff writers test-drive (or test-walk) some of them too. The online version is linked above, but if you’re not registered with the Telegraph here’s the result in PDF format: Telegraph – Walks with Meaning.

Saints Way 01

Saint’s Way, Cornwall. CREDIT: Visit Cornwall

 

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My top 10 books about walking in Britain

Earlier this month my list of ‘Top 10 books about walking in Britain‘ appeared in The Guardian. There were so many books I could have mentioned, but with one exception* I only wrote about books that were wholly about Britain – which excluded such gems as Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways. Another self-imposed rule was that I had to have actually read the books myself, which again meant that (to my shame) some classics, such as John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, were left out. I also wanted to include a good few women walkers – not such an easy task, as it turned out. Guardian readers are a cultured lot, and came up with many great suggestions of their own in the comments section below the feature.

*The exception was Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, which is one of my favourite all-time books. Lee walks from his Cotswold home of Slad to London, before walking the length of Spain.

Laurie Lee. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Fame at last?

Hot on the heels of my book launch at the great, independent Chorleywood Bookshop on Tuesday evening (photos to follow), an interview about my book The Country of Larks is published in the current edition of Waitrose Weekend magazine. I was honoured to discover that I appear alongside literary luminaries Robert Macfarlane and Horatio Clare, two writers who I greatly admire.

The article is not online sadly (but free in store), so I’ve posted some photos of it below. You can also read some extracts from my book on the wonderful Land Lines website.

Waitrose interview 1

Waitrose interview 2

 

And in other news…

This was the week we didn’t crash out of the EU after all. It also happened to be the week my new book, The Country of Larks: A Chiltern Journey, was published. To coincide with this (less momentous) event I wrote a piece for Telegraph Travel on walking in the Chilterns before HS2 arrives. You need to register to access it for free, but it’ll be worth it – if only for the lovely photos!

Explore the Chilterns this Easter – before the high-speed trains arriveCredit: Getty Images

A red & rocky road to Petra

Six months ago I filed copy for my story on the new Jordan Trail. It has now has appeared in the Telegraph, and although I generally don’t read my writing once it’s published (you always think of how it could have been better), for this a made an exception as it’s been so long I’d forgotten what I’d written.

I’d definitely forgotten how challenging the walk was, but also how completely magical, and would recommend the Jordan Trail to anyone who loves hiking through spectacular countryside in the company amazing people.

NB: it’s not me in the photo below, folks!

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The Shara Mountains. Credit: Ali Barqawi Studios

Jordan 100 years after Lawrence

Lat week the Telegraph asked me to write a round-up on Jordan 100 years after Lawrence of Arabia, giving me a 24-hour turnaround to produce copy. I was happy to oblige. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for my long story on the new Jordan Trail to appear, months after I filed it. Watch this space …

Camels in front of theTreasury, Petra. Credit Jordan Tourist Board

There’s a lot more to Jordan than Petra. Photo: Jordan Tourist Board

 

 

Memories of 1976

The Guardian asked for readers’ memories of the hottest summer on record. Here are mine.

1976, the hottest summer in living memory. Every afternoon in my parents’ Home Counties garden, my best friend and I slathered Hawaiian Tropic over every inch of our exposed flesh, hoping to sizzle like chipolatas. This dark, coconut-scented oil offered virtually no protection from the sun, only the means to fry even faster.

We’re supposed to be swotting for exams, but the books lie open on the ground and Radio One crackles from the transistor. We turn it down when my mother comes out from the kitchen bearing a jug of lemon squash, ice cubes clinking against the glass… [click here to read more]