Walking Home by Simon Armitage

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Walking Home by Simon Armitage

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Category: Travel
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: An engaging walk down the Pennine Way, told by a poet with a great command of the English language.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Faber and Faber
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0571249886

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Poet Simon Armitage decided in 2010 to walk the Pennine Way 'in reverse' - instead of heading to Scotland, he'd start just across the border and walk in the direction of his native Yorkshire. As if doing it this way, with the sun, wind and rain in his face wasn't hard enough, he also challenged himself to do it without a penny to his name, earning cash for the journey by giving poetry readings in pubs, village halls and living rooms. Could he make a 256-mile journey supported only by the kindness of strangers and his own willpower?

This is an interesting book, with much of its charm deriving from the fact that it's incredibly down to earth. It's the journal of an ordinary bloke (albeit one with a great command of the English language) walking a route which he himself describes as being in many ways a pointless exercise, leading from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular, with little in the way of exciting moments. What makes up for this, of course, is Armitage's real feeling for his country, the Way, and the people he meets. (Along with some stunning black and white photographs of various points on his journey!)

It's captivating to see how he copes with the loneliness at times, who goes out of their way to help him - even joining him on his walk at points, and how people react to the poetry readings - which varies between applause and indifference. We also get the bonus of a few of Armitage's poems thrown in as well, which are most welcome. His descriptions of the landscape he walks through are wonderful, and he definitely captures the beauty of the route in both words and pictures.

Overall, this is certainly recommended for people with an interest in Great Britain today, and the Pennines in particular, looking for a reflective read.

This book came to us courtesy of the Ilkley Literature Festival where the author is appearing on 6 October 2012.

Another slowly-paced but wonderful travel book is the fabulous account of some of Britain's best railway trips, On The Slow Train Again by Michael Williams. You might also appreciate Four Fields by Tim Dee. You'll also enjoy Neither Nowt Nor Summat: In search of the meaning of Yorkshire by Ian McMillan and The Hidden Landscape by Richard Fortey.

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Buy Walking Home by Simon Armitage at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Walking Home by Simon Armitage at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Walking Home by Simon Armitage at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Walking Home by Simon Armitage at Amazon.com.


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