The book starts with, what I thought, was a very interesting introduction. It hooked me in and made me want to keep reading.
I found myself becoming involved in the theories of why we walk on two legs and the way we view walking. I’ve always liked things like this – studies show this and that and then someone else has a counter-theory or there are new findings. I think it would be a good topic to debate! There’s even a brief dip into the environment argument and health benefits.
I have to confess that I never realised how many words are associated with walking or thought about my own style. My favourites have to be strolled; mooched; sauntered; shambled, hiked and marched. What do the first four say about my style do you think?
I also have to admit that I’ve never noticed all the walking written into novels but on reflection in my recent meanderings I’ve walked through many fields and alongside ditches/riverbanks - I’ve sauntered along dusty roads in India and along High Streets.
I am intrigued by the thought of letting the environment guide you – to let your feet take you where they will with no destination in mind and by the label psychogeography. I can understand having different walks to solve different problems (as Ian Sinclair does) as when my husband and myself walk (or should that be stroll) we choose places for how they make us feel.
The walks themselves are connected with popular people ie Richard Long, Captain Barclay, Guy Debord, to name a few. The author intersperses these walks with his own experimental challenges that parallel these and also with his own personal anecdotes. At the end is a mini biography, which Geoff Nicholson also relates to walking. There is a bibliography and online resources.
I disagree with how the author feels about the label ‘walking in nature’ – not that it is ‘managed’ nature but how it has the power to affect on a spiritual level. I believe in the spirit of place having experienced it for myself. I don’t ‘walk in nature’ to assert morals or a spiritual superiority but for my own personal reasons. I certainly don’t feel smug or superior! Having said that, Geoff Nicholson does go on to note that he ‘lacks the spiritual gene’ …
One thing really did intrigue me, the long pedestrian races that were popular in the 19th century. I can imagine the crowds gathering for these (and some of them are bizarre to us today) and punters making their bets.
There is a lot of interesting information contained in these pages. It’s written in a humorous style. The writing flows and content keeps you entertained whether you are a serious walker or if like me, you just want to expand your horizons.