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Walking Home by Simon Armitage
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Walking Home (2012)

by Simon Armitage

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1198101,247 (3.83)18
Recently added byprivate library, kingpellinor, Bookish59, innominate, kkb, Ma_Washigeri
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» See also 18 mentions

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This book won it's 4 stars on the second half of the book. The finish might even have tipped 4 and a half so if you are not enjoying the beginning as much as you expected, keep reading. The journey itself was obviously not as satisfying as the author had hoped. I have never walked the Pennine Way but I have done quite a lot of long distance walking. My memories of my own walks hold a freshness and immediacy that seem lacking from this walk - maybe not lacking, but few and far between. I wonder if age has something to do with it as my walks were many years ago (before children) and although I was in my 30s they were bright adventures through mist, rain, sun, wind, hail and snow. Through light and dark, up hill and down dale, vivid companions and the joy of walking ever onward, until returning to home life. The author's journey seems to have had more impact internally and I get the sense that the continuity of the internal life did not allow for that sense of beginning and end and special time in between. But maybe the same would be true for me now. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
I've never quite managed to get into Armitage's poetry, but I enjoyed this. Possibly because it was about places I know, but mostly because the Bard of Marsden is an engaging companion on the walk, and has a very nice line in description, and a wry humour I found very much to my taste. ( )
  sloopjonb | May 25, 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.

This book has received mixed reviews by GR members, with many finding its lack of action boring. 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 his 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. ( )
  cscott | Apr 18, 2014 |
This is an excellent wheeze. Poet Simon Armitage decides to walk to Penine Way, but rather than heading out in the convcentional South-to-North, he approaches it from the other end (poets, being paid up members of the awkward squad - just one of many great lines of observation a humour in this book). And as if 256 miles of hilly terrain is not enough of a challenge, he sets of relying on the kindness of strangers and will earn his keep by performing poetry readings at each stop - not charging entry, but by passing aht for people to chip in what they think he's worth. OK, so it turns into a sock, not a hat, but the principle remains.
And so beings a journey that is nnot just in terms of miles traversed. There are the observations that make this so vivid, the humour that sparkles and flashes in a dry, unshowy way, and the long dark tea time of the soul when lost in mist. I've been lost in mist (not on the penines) but it is a horrible experience. You loose track of everything, the fear rises and it becomes a very upsetting situation. He captures that with some clarity, yet manages to not sound too selfpitying.
He has a way with words that is quite entracing. The back cover describes it at Betjemanesque; I was thinking more akin to Alan Bennett - it's that same picking up of small details and the carefully crafted phrase that lodges in your mind, or suddenly makes you laugh out loud. Minus Alan Bennett's Eeyore-esque edge, though.
This is one of my current book crushes - I love just about everything of his I read, and this was no exception. ( )
  Helenliz | Feb 15, 2014 |
I read a lot of books by people who take long walks. This is one of my favorites. ( )
  Rayaowen | Feb 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
...never will reading about a hot shower and some foot ointment be quite so enjoyable.
 
Walking Home riffs on the ancient correlation between itinerancy and story-telling, with embedded tales of varying tallness coming and going in an almost casual manner, complete with a Bunyanesque dark night of the soul (in Cumbrian daylight) when lost high up on the terrifying emptiness of Cross Fell.
added by geocroc | editThe Guardian, Adam Thorpe (Jul 6, 2012)
 
...Walking Home is neither scholarly meditation nor record of barely-human endurance. Armitage’s journey is more pedestrian than that; a manageable distance along a worn path through familiar faces.
 
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Describes the author's travels as he walked the Pennine Way through England and stopped each night to give a poetry reading in a different village in return for a place to sleep.

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