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Sometimes Walking

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  • walking across a stream in spring

Phil, Queen's Square | April 2, 2017

Sometimes it seems like you can’t go out for a simple walk anymore. With all the data tracking options available, if you’re not measuring every footstep, you are missing an opportunity for personal growth.

Gone are the days of Tony Robinson walking through historically important areas in the UK, stopping for a pint and a chat with the locals, in his Walking Through History TV series. No fitness tracker, no data gathering, just a good pair of hiking books and a backpack.

Well, there are couple of recent books that focus more on the walk than the physical benefits gained.  On Trails by Robert Moor is a fascinating look at the history of trails both human and animal, while he walks the entire 3500 km of the Appalachian Trail.

Walking to Camelot: a pilgrimage through the heart of rural England by John Cherrington seems a fitting companion to Tony Robinson’s Walking through History series. Cherrington, a Canadian from BC walks 300 miles of the 140,000 miles of public paths in England. The history and stories come at an ambling pace that are fascinating, amusing and honest, including tales of poor food, rain and no central heating. But if thoughts of foggy, soggy walks through England intrigue your then pack your bags.

If you’d like your “walking” to be more of an intellectual exercise, pick up David Orr’s Road Not Taken in which Orr dissects Robert Frost’s most popular poem (it’s probably one of the best known poems, in North America at least), and explains how most people have gotten the meaning wrong. It may not stretch your legs, but he will stretch your mind; a very entertaining read.

Closer to home, see what walking has wrought in the printmaking endeavors of Gerard Brender à Brandis, who has documented his walks along the Guelph to Goderich trail in magnificent woodcuts, in his book Walking Home.