The Old Ways

The Old Ways

A Journey on Foot

Book - 2012
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"In this exquisitely written book, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge, England, home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove roads, and sea paths that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of pilgrimage and ritual. Told in Macfarlane's distinctive voice, 'The Old Ways' folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature. His walks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird islands of the Scottish northwest, from Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he crosses paths with walkers of many kinds--wanderers, pilgrims, guides, and artists. Above all this is a book about walking as a journey inward and the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move. Macfarlane discovers that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but of feeling, knowing, and thinking."--Publisher description.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Viking, 2012
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780670025114
0670025119
Branch Call Number: 914.2 M1438o 2012
Characteristics: xi, 432 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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Robert McFarlane's The Old Ways recounts his travels on paths around the world that have been trodden by our ancestors for thousands of years. His stories make me want to sell all of my possessions and set off on a long journey on foot. -Alison

Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge, England, home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove roads, and sea paths that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories beyond.


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marthabwaters
Jun 22, 2016

I'm struggling to figure out quite how I felt about this book. The writing was consistently beautiful, and since I'm about to go on a trip to the UK I thought some of the descriptions of the walks in Britain were fascinating, but at other times I frequently found my attention straying. I have no doubt there is a certain type of reader who would love every word of this book -- for this reader, however, it was a worthwhile read that required a bit more patience that one might wish (or possess).

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IV27HUjg
Dec 22, 2015

I read this with envy for one who has the ability, time & funds to take off on these walks. It satisfied me with the variety, especially the Doggerland & Broomway area so steeped in history; the Icknield Way, Hebrides; the walks in Palestine/Israel I'd never get to. I guess I'd have to check his other books for The Great Glen Way & somewhat disappointed no mention of Loch Nagar - only in my dreams.

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hey44
Oct 21, 2015

Indeed, as others have commented, there is something poetic about the writing, but in the end....well, I didn't get to the end, as I got bored with the meanderings of the writing itself. Also, the title is a bit misleading, as not all the journeys are on foot. One of the "ways" is on a waterway.

SchroederTribe Aug 20, 2015

I could quite happily populate any social media account with quotes from this book. The beauty of walking, the history of walking, the socio-economic aspects of walking, the health of walking, the literature on walking are all lyrically and beautiful covered in this meditation. There is no other way that we can so literally walk in the paths of our ancestors.

ChristchurchLib Apr 08, 2013

"In this "masterful, poetic travel narrative" (Kirkus Reviews), acclaimed British author Robert Macfarlane recounts his walking explorations via the "old ways," examining ancient footpaths, roads, and sea paths. He draws on a wide variety of intriguing subjects, including literature, natural history, and cartography, to illuminate various landscapes in Great Britain (the chalk downs of south England, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, etc.) and in other countries (occupied territory in Palestine, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and sacred regions of the Himalayas). Using rich but readable prose, Macfarlane meditates on people - (he meets a lot of them) and the paths they tread in this 3rd in a loose trilogy (after Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places), which is a perfect read for wondering wanderers." April 2013 Armchair Travel newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=620534

d
downsman
Jan 27, 2013

Excellent addition to the growing library of "the new nature writing" (as Granta titled an issue a few years ago). Macfarlane is an admirer of many other landscape writers, particularly Edward Thomas; like Thomas, his is particularly poetic style of writing, but not so much that the flavour of the narrated experience is diluted. Highly recommended.

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quagga Sep 08, 2013

My legs preserved the ghost sense of stride, the muscle memory of repeated action, and twitched forwards even as I rested. My feet felt oddly dented in their soles, as if the terrain over which I had passed had imprinted its own profile into my foot like a mark knuckled into soft clay. How had Flann O'Brien put it in The Third Policeman? 'When you walk, the continual crackling of your feet on the road makes a certain quantity of road come up into you.'

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