The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Robert Macfarlane

2012


A beautiful and poignant volume that's hard to categorise: part travelogue, part biography of the poet Edward Thomas, part meditation, part exploration. Macfarlane traces old footpaths, from the South Downs to the Hebrides to Palestine, reading the landscape and the marks that people have left on it. He follows the diversions as he encounters them, musing about the "pathways" in the sea that are clear and long-lived despite being written in the water, formed from the ways in which current and wind interact to lay down the "natural" route to travel before powered craft. He spends night under the stars, including a rather unnerving and supernatural encounter while sleeping (ill-advisedly, as he puts it) in a neolithic ring. And he brings out literary gems, such as the relationship between Thomas (whose work I've now been inspired to read) and Robert Frost's poem The road not taken. Altogether a delight to read.

Finished on Tue, 04 May 2021 14:00:37 -0700.   Rating 5/5.