Read Walking Home: A Poet's Journey by Simon Armitage Online


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 walkingIn 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....

Title : Walking Home: A Poet's Journey
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780571249886
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Walking Home: A Poet's Journey Reviews

  • Jim
    2019-03-25 05:23

    I'm thinking that two stars for this book is a bit harsh, but then I did find it somewhat of a slog. Not, however, half the slog that Simon found the Pennine Way and I might reread this if I ever find myself thinking it might be an idea to walk it myself. Like Bill Bryson in "A Walk in the Woods", I had the impression that the author really wished he'd never bothered. I mean, Bryson could write three hundred pages about a sock, but he suffered as much as Armitage does in trying to find something interesting to write about that doesn't just sound like some dull guide book. The bits I liked were when the poet does his poetry and meets some interesting people in the pubs and houses along the way. On the actual walk though, Armitage notes how unsociable other walkers can be. Very few stop to chat and just pile past him, head down, into the mist. There's a funny paragraph where he categorises the types he's noticed on the walk, but I kind of expected more of that kind of observation and humour in the book. In my opinion, Paul Theroux is still the best at writing this kind of travelogue and, while I did finish the book, I had to kind of push myself to.

  • Paul
    2019-03-18 04:12

    He is slightly nervous of the challenge, and his wife is not sure that he would be able to complete it either. He has split the walk into manageable sections, and he is joined by others on each stage of the walk. Every day he is joined by some combination of family, friends, local guides and frequently complete strangers who have responded to his promotion of the walk. Even though he undertakes the walk in the summer he has a mixed bag of weather too, gentle sun some days to being soaked and blasted by the wind as he traverses the backbone of England. He is filled with doubt too; he can scarcely believe that anyone will walk with him, let alone pay to hear him read, but they do. Some of his largest reading have nearly 100 people there, and his collections for the event vary from £30 to a huge £500, as well as the oddities such as tickets, foreign coins and other random objects from people pockets.Really enjoyed this, the way that Armitage writes is open and honest. His humour is self depreciating too, and his humility over his ability and talents means that you warm to him as a person. But he is immensely talented as a poet, and people respond to that and are warm and generous with their time, money and shelter to enable him to fulfil his ambition.“Prose fills a space, like a liquid poured in from the top”It is not a book filled with action and adventure, but rather the musings and thoughts of a man at home with nature and humanity.

  • Nikki
    2019-03-15 04:09

    I like Simon Armitage's work, and I like the north of England -- it's not as good as Wales, but it'll do, and the landscape is very familiar to me. I grew up in West Yorkshire, so the Pennines are very much part of my mental landscape. So this book was interesting to me in a lot of ways: I haven't walked the Pennines, but I'd like to (maybe not the whole Pennine Way); I'm interested in the way Simon Armitage chose to pay his way, as a "modern troubadour"; I'm interested in Simon Armitage himself.It's a good read, full of Simon Armitage's slightly self-deprecating, wry humour. I laughed out loud at some parts, and most of all at his anecdote about a reading attended by a doughnut (a man dressed as a doughnut, of course), protesting that doughnuts can like poetry...

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-07 01:12

    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.

  • Steven Suttie
    2019-03-25 05:08

    I picked this book up because it was about the Pennine Way, a walk that I have long had ambitions of walking, one day, if I ever get enough peace and quiet to stop life for three or four weeks and just get stuck in and do it! I hadn't realised that the book was written by Simon Armitage, the celebrated northern poet, until I'd started, and I must say that the author's wonderful use of the English language is a wonder to behold as he describes his enormous walk home with such colour, grain and HD descriptions. This is an amazing book, and I feel that I have (in some weird way) been alongside the author on his remarkable journey south towards Marsden.I'm definately going to do this walk... one day...

  • Joe
    2019-03-12 01:17

    The Pennine Way rambles through northern Great Britain like a wizened snake. A 256-mile trek that cuts across bogs, mores, towns, farmland, industrial mining areas and hills high enough to aspire to mountain-hood. The weather on The Way is equally varied and also legendarily fickle, with rain or fog lurking behind every sunny day and distant cloud. In spite of the severe geography, the Pennine way is popular with hikers and presents an ideal challenge for anyone seeking a grand panoramic adventure or a notch on their traveling belt.For the accomplished poet Simon Armitage, The Pennine Way is personally symbolic; one end of the path lies near the town of his birth. As a result, he was familiarized with The Way growing up and it holds a certain fascination for him. So when Mr. Armitage plans to battle the full scope of the journey for the first time in middle age, the task appears both daunting and inevitable. And since this journey is so personal, Armitage personalizes it to match his poet's soul. First, he charts his journey as a reverse of the standard expedition, starting at the northern end of the path (in Scotland) and ending in his hometown (hence Walking Home.) Second, at every stop along the way he'll hold a poetry reading. Third, he'll cover his traveling expenses purely through donations made at these readings. Not all of these flights-of-fancy pan out dynamically. For instance, Armitage's decision to travel as a modern-day troubadour living off donations proves dramatically inert when his first stop nets him 167 British pounds; meaning his ledger easily stays in the black the entire journey. But if nothing else, his methods cause him to encounter far more people (both going the other way on the road and in town) than he would have on a standard Pennine walk. And while Armitage's clear writing style captures the scenery better than the average wordsmith, it's his wit regarding people that really shines. He is equally comfortable taking in the little details of each individual and telling complicated, distinctive stories about them or stereotyping groups for comic effect. As an example of the latter, Armitage tallies the hikers he crosses paths with; organizing them in groups such as 'The Last Hurrah,' 'Bear Grylls/Ray Mears Box Set' and 'The Exuberance of Youth.' But Armitage displays his humanity clearest when his fatigue builds towards journey's end and his composure slips. Armitage belittles a charitable store-owner by trying to act equally magnanimous (he comes across as self-important) and at another point banishes some young students from his audience because he misinterprets their interest. Armitage beats himself up over these incidents and in his honest contrition shows how easily weariness can overcome wisdom and compassion.And in the final leg of his journey, Armitage's lethargy and creative urges nearly force him off the path. He toys with the idea of not reaching the finish line, of making a statement about 'personal accomplishment over public affirmation'; a hideous idea that would've confused his family, friends and fans. It's all fine and good to say it's about the journey and not the destination, but why not grab the destination when it's right there and you've told everyone that that was where you were going? Armitage's interactions at the penultimate stop guilt him into pressing on, though with indecision (and rain) in the air, the final leg of the journey proves disorienting and the ending borders on surreal. Sometimes, even when you've come so far, the final mile feels like an expedition all it's own.

  • CuteBadger
    2019-03-08 00:25

    This is an engaging book about poet Simon Armitage walking the Pennine Way in the "wrong direction" in the summer of 2010. He planned his route in advance by asking for volunteers to put him up and for venues in which to give poetry readings each evening. He took no money with him, but relied on what his audiences contributed after his readings.I found the book a really easy read and one which had me saying "just one more page" till it was way past my bedtime. The writing style is very accessible and the author demonstrates a great sense of humour. His descriptions of the landscape he is walking through make you feel you're there too. The word sketches he draws of his walking companions and the people who give him a bed for the night are acute, warm and sympathetic.Walking is an activity that gives those who do it lots of time to think so we hear about incidents from his life, from the history of the area he is exploring and about the people who live there.Some atmospheric photos of the walk are included and a few poems - could have done with more of the latter I think.All in all a great journey and a great read.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-27 04:15

    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.

  • Liz
    2019-02-28 03:16

    I laughed out loud reading this book. SA has such a self-effacing honesty which at times make you want to wince as he describes some of the experiences as he challenges himself on this long distance walk. As he says a walk from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular, but a challenge to himself. In what is often a bleak landscape he manages to make even the mundane parts interesting by being detailed and amusingly observed. From the planning stage,with his Dad`s input about using a bin bag, through the daily commentary on the journey and the ritual counting of his sock of money after poetry readings to the final `ramblings` this book is both a wonderful entertainment and an inspiration.

  • Ade Couper
    2019-03-23 04:29

    I love this book.Simon Armitage is one of the greatest poets of the English Language, & has also written some very good prose works too. This is a chronicle of his attempt to walk the Pennine Way from north-South , paying for food, board & lodging by reading his poetry at arranged readings on route. Armitage's love of language really shines through as you read this : his phrasing is economical but very descriptive, & he makes the walk come alive through his descriptions both of the landscape & his own feelings. Read this book.

  • Martin Kohout
    2019-03-14 21:31

    Like Rachel Hewitt's Map of a Nation, this book probably has more meaning for me than for a general audience, since my friend Bruce and I walked a portion of the Pennine Way in the course of one of our 200-mile backpacking trips across northern England, but I loved it. Simon Armitage is an English poet who decides to hike the entire length of the Pennine Way, the oldest National Trail in Britain, which runs about 260 miles from Edale, in Derbyshire, to Kirk Yelton, in Scotland - except, perversely, Armitage decides to hike it "backwards," from north to south, rather than in the traditional south-to-north direction, so he will end up at home (he is from Marsden, near Edale). He also decides that he will rely on the kindness of strangers (well, and a few friends) along the way to provide him with food and lodgings, in return for a nightly poetry reading.As one would hope and expect from a poet, his descriptions of the landscape along the way are quite evocative, and he is actually very funny and self-deprecating a good bit of the time. I think he writes so well that anyone would enjoy this book, whether or not he/she has hiked the Pennine Way. But I particularly thrilled to his descriptions of Garrigill and Hawes, through which Bruce and I passed on our own hike two years ago, and of Cross Fell, atop which we, like Armitage, lost the trail in an impenetrable foggy rain. Beginning to suffer from hypothermia, we stumbled upon Greg's Hut, an extremely stark bothy or shack on the east side of Cross Fell, where we changed out of our soaked clothes and waited till our teeth had stopped chattering before staggering the five miles into Garrigill. I have to say Armitage makes Greg's Hut sound more charming than it was, at least in my experience, even though it may very well have saved my life.

  • Tim
    2019-03-13 02:29

    I hadn't read Simon Armitage's poetry beforehand, but was drawn by the notion of his placing himself at the other end of a path that led him home. This book delivered on its promise, and then some. The ebbs and flows of Armitage's prose reflect his engagement and detachment from his journey. The bits he loved are illustrated with panache and joy; the bits he enjoyed less are not. Hence it took me a good hundred pages or so to begin to get into it myself. To my mind, Armitage didn't really begin to get enthused by his journey until that point in the book, which coincided with his being able to relate to the landscape around him and its 'homelikeness' to him. It is a journey I think many of us take at sometime or other. It is one that takes us back to whence we came. Armitage isn't explicit about his emotional motives for his journey, but does allude to the separate influences of family members, friends, other poets and writers, and the places that influence his life, work, being. I reckon there's plenty of depth hidden away in this narrative that leaves us wanting to know a little more, and helps us make sense of our own journeys. It is also packed with momentary comedic gems, and beautiful descriptions of life along 'Britains' backbone'.

  • Louisa
    2019-03-13 02:30

    Pleasantly bland, rambling anecdotes told with endearing honesty. Armitage takes the reader on a theoretically dull amble down the Pennine Way, recounting tales of the rather forgettable people he meets along the way. Travel writing for those who like their adventures vanilla-flavoured.

  • Harsha Gurnani
    2019-03-17 02:06

    If you want to listen to something on your way to work (sure you can read it too), something besides 80s rock, something that brings a spring to your step, then this is for you.If you are the sort of person who enjoys long distance walks, (in the poet's words) "a pointless exercise, leading from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular, via no particular route and for no particular reason" and often not for (conventionally) "pleasant weather", then this book is for you.If you want to imagine yourself plodding across seemingly endless moors and meadows, treading noisily through bogs, or straggling up hills, exchanging witty banter about when is a beck a river, all the while you may be "navigating delicately" through The London Pavement Network, this book is for you.And if you want to use that imagination to replace the smell of the London Tube, a curious mix of people, sweat and Pret sandwiches, with that of freshly (perennially) wet grass and mist and heavy country air; and if you want to replace the sounds of whooshing trains or whooshing cars with birds over desolate moors and the unbroken rush of the wind or the sound of rain beating against your waterproof (I hope) on am otherwise empty land - then this book is for you.If you don't mind walking about with a smile on your face, and you don't mind the occasional grin or chortle or even the loud laugh invoking curious glances by passers-by, and especially if you enjoy the Englishman's wry sense of humour, then this book is for you.And finally, if you want to hear of all the small kindnesses that people, very ordinary people, bestow upon each other, of acts of pure generosity towards strangers, of an existence that is not a competition on a daily basis, and if such anecdotes even break through your impassable "dark curtain" of cynicism and make you feel warm, less alone on some particular day - then this book is definitely for you.

  • Emily Crow
    2019-03-20 01:26

    I've read quite a bit about famous hikes such as the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail, and now I have a new jaunt to add to my imaginary bucket list: the 260 mile Pennine Way that runs through the north of England to the Scottish border. Why is this an imaginary bucket list for me? Well, the author--poet Simon Armitage--answers that question more than adequately in his book about traveling it: rain, fog, wind, more rain, getting lost, still more rain.... I'm definitely a fair weather hiker (or rambler, as it's called in this book).While I enjoy this subgenre of travel writing, the hiking memoir comes with its own potential pitfalls, namely, the grueling act of putting one foot in front of the other for day after day, often though rough terrain and bad weather, can sometimes seem as much of "trudge" to read as it is to experience. Only occasionally does this happen here; for the most part, the writing is lively and the scenery--so to speak--is interesting. Occasionally, the descriptions were so striking and beautiful I wanted to copy them down, such as this description of a deer heading away from him: "Just as it crossed the horizon the great candelabra of its antlers became silhouetted against the torch of the sun, still low in the sky, and appeared to catch fire. Then off it went into the woods, igniting each copse and thicket with its flaming horns, spreading the morning as it went."Recommended for vicarious ramblers and those who enjoy their non fiction with a poetic flair.

  • Daven
    2019-03-05 05:05

    Well, if there was ever an opportunity to insert a spoiler alert in a brief book review, it would be here. I'll resist - there's no need. But who would've thought there would be a surprising ending to such a humble non-fiction tale? Just goes to prove why I often love non-fiction more than fiction; you can't make this stuff up. In non-fiction, incredulity is more likely well-earned and genuine.One might think, based on the title or premise of Walking Home, that this book would be stuffy. A well-known British poet sets out to walk the Pennine Way, Great Britain's reasonable equivalent to the Appalachian Trail (although smaller-scale, at only 256 miles in length). Along the way, Armitage plans to hold casual poetry readings in the towns and crossroads, while collecting donations in a hanging sock (rather than the typical tip hat). But the other enduring surprise of the book is how funny and "unstuffy" Armitage's journey is. He writes with great precision and even more remarkable voice and perspective. Take, for example, this momentary encounter with a group of ascending schoolchildren on a field trip, as Armitage himself descends from one of the more-challenging of the Pennine's moors: Towards the bottom where the path spills out like broken biscuits, we pass about thirty kids and a couple of teachers setting off for the peak, and wonder about the risk assessment form associated with this kind of day trip, which presumably has to allow for several types of gravity-induced injury all the way from a sprained ankle to death by plummeting. Peppered with ample moments such as this, Walking Home is characterized by a writer's meticulous observational skills, eye for the nuances of human behavior, an impressive ability to describe the natural world (even when to the untrained eye, the English landscape appears monotonously featureless), and above all, a fully engaging droll sense of humor.Now, if I could just get past that ending, when, while standing on Mill Hill, Armitage inexplicably . . .

  • Juliet Wilson
    2019-02-23 22:26

    Subtitled 'Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way' this book follows Armitage as he walks the Pennine Way from north to south, giving poetry readings every night in whichever local settlement has agreed to host him. At the end of every reading he hands round a sock which invariably fills up with cash and odd little gifts . Given that on most occasions there's a fair amount of cash in the sock, the readings effectively pay for the walk, specially considering that he has found people to host him and provide his food for free along the journey.But then Armitage is, in poetic terms at least, famous. (And deservedly so, I might add). I doubt most poets would be able to carry out such an expedition funded by the proceeds of socks handed out at the end of readings.I often get annoyed with travel books, finding there to be too much cruel humour at the expense of people met along the way. This book though, while very funny (on more than one occasion I regretted my decision to read this book on public transport, given how much I laughed at some points) mostly avoids being at anyone's expense. Though some people seem to be annoying, I never felt that Armitage was specifically looking to do anyone down just to liven up his prose.And this is fine prose too, with beautiful descriptions of the landscape and the wildlife:"Down by the waterfall, before Keld village, a male redstart waits on the branch of a rowan tree just long enough for me to see the fire in its belly and the afterburn of its tail".Armitage claims not to be a birdwatcher because he doesn't make lists, but he certainly knows his birds.This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, entertaining and really rooted in the landscape, plus with added poems. However it didn't make me want to walk the Pennine Way. All that bad weather and more importantly all those impossibly steep tracks and vertiginous paths!

  • J.
    2019-03-01 05:26

    I absolutely love the premise of this book, in summary; walk a route whilst paying your way through reading poetry. Art paving the way for inspiration and begetting more art. The poet Simon Armitage sets out to take on the Pennine way a 250 odd mile route largely over hills, moorlands and bogs starting at Kinder Scout Bleaklow and Black hill stretching past Hadrian’s Wall, traversing the Cheviot ridge before finishing in Scotland at Kirk Yetholm on the border. He elects to go in the opposite direction that is usually taken, going from North to South against the weather towards his home of Marsden where he was born in 1963. His mission statement is “to write a book about the North, one that could observe and describe the land and its people, and one that could encompass elements of memoir as well as saying something about my life as a poet.” Perhaps that sounds a bit more grand than what was achieved, which was less anthropological and more a book filled with daily observances and a plod through mist, moorland and fog to hostels, b&b’s and spare rooms. He goes through Wordsworth country and sleeps in Ted Hughes’s childhood home. He finances the journey by giving organised poetry readings at stops along the way, producing a sock for the audience to throw money in and as it transpires other odds and ends. Armitage is likeable and self-depreciating. He’s not particularly fit and has a bad back.He sulks, gives awkward readings, drinks beer and meets up with his comic university pal Slug. Nothing is on the line, no real tension brews but that’s okay. He gets to be in a warm bed every night, volunteers cart his tombstone suitcase around, park rangers, friends, well-wishers, strangers and poets join him on the walk. I must confess that I don’t like his poetry but as I’ve said before I love the premise of this book and I think it worked well. Poetry does pay.

  • Paula Connelly
    2019-02-24 22:22

    I have always been attracted to the idea of walking the Pennine Way but have never seriously considered doing it myself. So for this reason, and the fact that the trail incorporates some of my very favourite places, this book appealed to me greatly.Overall I enjoyed the book and thought it was a light and easy read, taking me just a few hours to complete. In many ways the writing seemed to mirror the walk itself in that there were high points and low, passages I found to be a bit of a tedious slog and some I found uplifting and inspiring. Along the way there was the occasional chuckle (not quite a full laugh!) and on one occasion a random act of kindness which actually brought a hint of a tear to my eye.One thing that put me off slightly was the author's regular accounting of how much cash he'd collected (for himself) along the way, leading me to question his motive for undertaking the walk in the first place. Although I admit I'd never heard of him prior to this book, it seemed at times to have been more of a "tour" (as in one undertaken by a performance artist) than a serious attempt at one of our national trails. And in some ways the conclusion of the book confirms this idea.The book didn't inspire me to rush out and attempt the Pennine Way myself, but it did leave me wanting to go back and visit some of my favourite places, like Hawes, Swaledale and Hadrian's Wall.

  • Anna
    2019-03-04 23:06

    3.5 Reading this felt a little like walking the Penine Way. Let me explain: I started optimistically, engaged by the jovial tone, eagerly reading the opening chapters entertained by the carefully considered prose, and looking up maps to chart the route. I paced myself, anticipating the each chapter of an evening thus matching the pace of the walk. Then from about half way a sense of despondence settled, rather like a fine mist and I rather suspected I would quietly sneak off before the fog finally descended. It wasn't that Armitage's writing gradually deteriorated, but somehow I lost my way and I couldn't determine why. I just couldn't gain a real sense of direction or purpose and searching for it through google maps became tedious. Perhaps I felt frustrated by the black and white photographs that did less to place the journey than the descriptions. Perhaps it was the absence of maps to chart the progress. Either way something was missing. Given the ending, perhaps it did accurately chart Armitage's mood: it increasingly seemed to lack a joy or engagement with either the people he met or the journey itself. It began to feel like a chore, something he had committed to and felt obliged to finish. And yet, just as I was ready to give up I turned a page and was met by a blast of sunlight in the shape of a poem, all the more radiant for being placed unexpectedly in the midst of the prose. And perhaps it was as simple as that. Armitage is a poet.

  • Kevan Manwaring
    2019-02-24 03:26

    This account of poet Simon Armitage’s attempt to walk the Pennine Way, Britain’s first long-distance footpath, north to south (as a poet, Armitage admits that he is ‘naturally contrary’), is enlivened by the author’s sharp poetic eye and droll Yorkshire humour. I found it an amusing and entertaining read, not least because of the trials and tribulations of a ‘modern-day troubadour’, who sets himself the challenge of ‘singing for his supper’ (or giving poetry readings) along the way to generate income and goodwill. This gambit pays off remarkably well – the quotidian value of poetry he charts with northerly bluntness. He doesn’t wax lyrical or wander lonely as a cloud – instead, he gets lost in ‘clouds’ (fog-bound fells), drenched, cold and muddy. His continual anti-epiphanies are offset by the odd, rare ‘silver lining’. But mostly, it’s a celebration of Britain’s great capacity for crapness, for mediocrity and everyday ‘eccentricity’. Armitage is painfully aware of his feet of clay in all of this – the middle-aged poet in search of a rugged, potent ‘experience’ which, in the great scheme of things, is a cake-walk (especially when compared to his wife’s trek to the Everest base-camp). Yet as a plumb-line down Britain’s spine it is an effective stab at a border country’s split-personality psycho-geography. Honest, self-deprecating, and often hilarious. This modern-day ‘John Bunion’ might not give you itchy feet, but he’s enjoyable company from the comfort of an armchair.

  • Steve
    2019-03-24 23:29

    Armitage has long been a favorite poet of mine, since years ago picking his joint travelogue of a trip to Iceland with Glynn Maxwell. I reread (or listen to) his Sir Gawain and The Green Knight each New Year's Day, and its the earthiness of his own poems as much as that translation I enjoy — his ruminations and flights of imaginations always seem grounded not in the sense of held down but rather that they seem rooted somewhere, coming from somewhere. And that earthiness is apparent in Walking Home, as he writes honestly and engagingly about both the pleasures and perils (and varied aches) of walking the Pennine Way. It's almost conversational and as convivial to the point I wished I'd been one of the friends and strangers who joined him for a walk along the way, though I do wish there'd been more context at times: whether it was a matter of taking some things for granted with the initial English audience or some other reason, I could have done with more historical exploration into the places he walked through, the creation of the Way itself, and more intellectual probing of the landscape (which, fair play, is just my bent toward environmental history over travel writing, in general). And I won't spoil it, but there's a moment involving his mobile phone toward the end that has absolutely haunted me since I put the book down.

  • Mike Eccles
    2019-03-08 21:30

    This was an unexpected Christmas present from my brother Simon who took a risk. I attempted to walk the Pennine Way as a teenager (that's a long time ago now), but damage to feet caused me to have to give up half way. So this was a possible return to memories from long ago.The truth is that I can remember very little of the walk and Simon Armitage walked in the unconventional North to South direction, so there is little to align my youthful experiences with his recent ones!Nevertheless this is a very engaging read. I am relieved that there is little poetry in the book (I'm a philistine with regards to poetry): his prose is delightful and his story one of adventure, emotion and insight into people and the environment around him. His overcoming of the challenges of walking the spine of Britain is something that I felt to be part of - a good measure of the success of his writing from my perspective.Definitely a good read!

  • T P Kennedy
    2019-03-26 22:07

    I'm not certain what the point of this book was. He's a gifted poet and the few verses included are very welcome. However, the rest of the book is a bad tempered, insular and questioning piece of writing. If he's not sure whether his walk is a good idea, why should we be interested. In an edited version, this might have made a diverting magazine article. For me, there's not enough of interest here to make a book.

  • Diane
    2019-02-28 02:05

    I'll return to this when I'm in a more charitable mood. I've read too many long-distance hiking memoirs -- trails that cover more than 2,000 miles -- so I had trouble being impressed by Armitage when he bragged about walking 260 miles. I found his tone to be a bit pompous and condescending, and I was disappointed because I had been looking forward to reading a travelogue of England. I'll try again later and see if his voice is more tolerable.

  • Jeff
    2019-03-13 23:26

    Fascinating premise, but disappointing in execution. Simon's fixation on collecting money in exchange for poetry readings becomes the main story, the walk simply a backdrop. His disastrous last day and ultimate failure were disappointing, but not unexpected. I was looking for triumph over adversity and Instead I got whiny poet complains about everything.

  • Anneliese Tirry
    2019-03-02 03:18

    ***(*)Een dichter (de auteur van het boek dus) besluit om het lange afstandsvoetpad "The Pennine Way" af te stappen, in de omgekeerde richting zodat 1 van zijn laatste stops zijn eigen dorp wordt. Het is een tocht van 3 weken waar hij op voorhand veel ruchtbaarheid aan geeft. Dat doet hij omdat hij wil dat deze weg "Self-sufficient" wordt. Door zijn voornemen kenbaar te maken vindt hij bij de mensen thuis slaapplaats, lang op voorhand al, en plant hij ook elke avond een lezing om zo geld te verzamelen voor zijn kosten, en dat lukt. Dit is zo een totaal andere manier van op stap te gaan dan de mijne, vooral dan het feit dat hij bijna nooit alleen is, bijna alle dagen is er iemand of is er een groep van mensen, die met hem meegaat.Het boek is goed geschreven, bijwijlen hilarisch, maar het zijn de hoofdstukken waarin hij het relaas geeft van de dagen die hij wel alleen was, die het mooiste zijn, het meest herkenbaar ook.Er was 1 grote afwezige in dit boek en dat was de stilte - misschien was die er wel, maar hij vermeldde ze niet echt. Wat ik wel goed vond is dat hij vlot toegeeft dat de tocht psychisch veel zwaarder was dan hij had verwacht. Dat is meestal ook zo (althans bij mij) - je komt jezelf tegen, je kleine kantjes, je verstopte verdriet, je zwakheden, het gemis, je falen, ... MAAR er is ook steeds die verwondering en de trots . Wel een goed boek!

  • Margaret
    2019-03-24 03:11

    English poet Simon Armitage sets out to walk the Pennine Way, which meanders through northern England and into Scotland.But, typical of a northerner, he does it in reverse! Leaving Scotland and heading towards Edale in England.It's an interesting, and, at times, whimsical wander through the more rugged parts of northern England.Charming and entertaining.

  • Marie Leverett
    2019-03-15 00:04

    I wish I’d enjoyed this book more because it did make me laugh out loud a few times and some of the language and imagery was beautiful. However, it felt as much of a slog to get through though the book as Simon Armitage seemed to find the Pennine Way. It’s made me think it’s definitely not a walk I fancy doing and his choice of photos (except the one of Malham) were quite frankly awful and didn’t really add anything to the book. The daily pattern of walk, meet one or two people, get muddy, do a poetry reading, go to bed and count the profits got pretty samey. Is all travel writing like this? Maybe I just miss a gripping plot!

  • Elderberrywine
    2019-03-24 23:03

    A poet walks the Pennine Way top to bottom - giving poetry readings nightly to subsidize the trip - in what the back cover blurb delightfully calls one of that "classic unnecessary journey genre". I'm not familiar with his poetry, that not being much up my alley, but this fellow is a joy and treasure. Written with a wry sense of the absurd (which is only fitting for an historical trail regarding which there was serious consideration given to whether or not it should continue its historic course even though it lay through a landholder's bathroom or perhaps make a slight detour around it), his account runs through both the ridiculous and the sublime in a heartbeat.As to the former? One of the readings occurs in the village of Once Brewed's open-plan visitor's centre. Chaos ensues, including a woman [who] says to me, "I'm just going outside to get my tw0-year-old from the car, but she'll probably cry if she doesn't like it." I plough on, barely audible above the gift-wrapping of model forts, the ringing of the cash register and the general white noise of tourism. Although I'm reading, I can't help listening to one man's repeated request for very detailed directions to Hexham, then the Information Officer's reply, including her meticulous description of every exit on a particularly complicated roundabout and a list of several other notorious route-finding trouble spots. Even the sheep in the field to the side are bleating and braying at the top of their vocal range. I read something LOUD and a bit ANGRY to finish with. . .And then the later - describing a dog and stag which come into his view, both unknown to the other. else to explain these two finely-tuned creatures with their hyper-receptive senses and hair-trigger nerves could be so close and yet so completely unaware of each other's existence.Eventually the deer lumbered away up over the hill, out of the shadow of the tree and into the morning light, so I could see now the redness of its fur, muted and streaky, like something dyed in blood then washed in water. Just as it crossed the horizon the great candelabra of its antlers became silhouetted against the torch of the sun, still low in the sky, and appeared to catch fire. Then off it went into the woods, igniting each copse and thicket with its flaming horns, spreading the morning as it went.Lovely stuff.