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- Publisher: Faber & Faber Non-Fiction
- Format: Paperback | 304 pages
- Dimensions: 124mm x 196mm x 24mm | 240g
- Publication date: 4 April 2013
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0571249892
- ISBN 13: 9780571249893
- Sales rank: 24,601
In summer 2010 Simon Armitage decided to walk the Pennine Way. The challenging 256-mile route is usually approached from south to north, from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm, the other side of the Scottish border. He resolved to tackle it the other way round: through beautiful and bleak terrain, across lonely fells and into the howling wind, he would be walking home, towards the Yorkshire village where he was born. Travelling as a 'modern troubadour' without a penny in his pocket, he stopped along the way to give poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms. His audiences varied from the passionate to the indifferent, and his readings were accompanied by the clacking of pool balls, the drumming of rain and the bleating of sheep. "Walking Home" describes this extraordinary, yet ordinary, journey. It's a story about Britain's remote and overlooked interior - the wildness of its landscape and the generosity of the locals who sustained him on his journey. It's about facing emotional and physical challenges, and sometimes overcoming them. It's nature writing, but with people at its heart. Contemplative, moving and droll, it is a unique narrative from one of our most beloved writers.
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Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield. A recipient of numerous prizes and awards, he has published ten collections of poetry, including Selected Poems (2001), Seeing Stars (2010), his acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007) and more recently The Death of King Arthur (2012). A broadcaster and presenter, he also writes extensively for television and radio, is the author of two novels and the bestselling memoir All Points North. In 2010 he received the CBE for services to poetry.
By Carolyn Scott 20 May 2014
Simon Armitage, an English poet, decides to walk the Pennine Way, a 256 mile trek down the spine of Britain, that starts near his home in Marsden and ends in Kirk Yeltham, just over the Scottish border. However to make it more interesting he decides to walk in the reverse direction, towards home, with the wind and the rain blowing into his face rather then at his back. He also decides to see if he can pay for his way along the trek by giving poetry readings at at each stop along the way at night as a sort of traveling troubadour.
I'm not a great fan of trekking unless the weather is good and the countryside is interesting and there was plenty of bad weather and bleak landscapes in this book - who knew there could be so many desolate locations in the middle of England? However, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the author's fine descriptions of all that he sees and does. Even at the worst moments, where he is lost on some desolate peak and ready to give up his writing is wonderfully descriptive:
"The melancholy comes over me, the dismal misery of not knowing where I am, or perhaps losing any sense of who I am, as if the mist is bringing about an evaporation of identity, all the certainties of the self leaching away into the cloud."
Although in many places the journey is a hard slog with the elements less than favourable, the author writes with a quiet underlying humour and affection of the places he stays, the variety of poetry recitals and the people who walk with him along the way. Some of his poetry is included in the book and I would have enjoyed seeing more. The book would also have been enhanced for me if there had been a more detailed map for each section of his journey so we have some sense of where the natural features and landmarks he talks about are located. However, his journey has inspired me to visit some of the areas he travelled through if I ever get the chance, so that's a pretty good measure of success for a travel book.