Walking Home, by Simon Armitage

As I was saying when the first draft of this post was so rudely and prematurely published, I am learning to use my wonderful technology…

The Pennine Way on the summit of Black Hill (P...

The Pennine Way on the summit of Black Hill (Peak District). The triangulation column and highest point on Black Hill is on a small elevated mound, called Soldiers’ Lump. According to Alfred Wainwright’s Pennine Way Companion the support timbers for the Ramsden theodolite, used by the Royal Engineers in the original Ordnance Survey, were still to be found here many years later. Photograph by Stephen Dawson 7 August 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sub-titled “A poet’s journey,” Walking Home appealed to me as a walker with a bit of interest in England’s long distance paths. As it was written in prose, I was willing to (ad)venture a glimpse into a poet’s mind.

It is an account of the 256 mile Pennine Way hike, along which the poet had organized nightly readings to locals desperate for an evening outing in the village. (I’m not being mean. That was Armitage’s own conclusion.)

Armitage writes very well, of course. But the story was not exactly spell-binding. His paragraphs are way too long and I kept losing my place when I tried to read and do other things at the same time.

I tend to be a goal-oriented person and Armitage observed that

“in many ways, the Pennine Way is a pointless exercise, leading from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular, via no particular route, and for no particular reason.”

The man didn’t seem to have a lot of fun on the journey. However he described the last day, in particular, quite brilliantly:

“The weather is disgusting, filthy… my underwear feels like it needs wringing out… More than anything [the landscape] looks like the aftermath of a war, the First World War, the ground shelled and cratered, with little rat runs and trenches between the grass-topped hillocks and mounds, some of which are taller than me” [sic].

Doesn’t that just inspire you to head for the hills? While I enjoyed reading the book, my next long walk will be a return to the Camino in Spain.

2 thoughts on “Walking Home, by Simon Armitage

  1. Happened upon your blog. I will walk the Coast to Cost with the family this summer to satisfy my longing to see English countryside, but the camino still reverberates in my head; so I too will return for another long walk in 2014.

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