Pilgrimpace's Blog

the old ways

I’ve started reading Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways.  Over the past few years, MacFarlane has been writing about landscape, nature and our part in it in Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places.  I’ve been anticipating The Old Ways and it really is very good, to my mind his best book.  It is about paths (and in a part I haven’t read yet, includes a walk along part of the Camino de Santiago.  People interested in walking, landscape and nature should read this book.

Paths run through people as surely as they run through places.  The American historian and geographer John Brinckerhoff Jackson – a man constitutionally wary of romanticism – puts it well.  ‘For untold thousands of years we travelled on foot over rough paths,’ he notes, ‘not simply as peddlers or communters or tourists, but as men and women for whom the path stood for some intense experience: freedom, new human relationships, a new awareness of the landscape.  The road offered a journey into the unknown that could end up allowing us to discover who we were’.”

This seems to me a good description of what can happen to us on long walking pilgrimages.  And I can feel – by the tickling of my feet – a short one coming up …


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The road goes on forever.

Comment by José Carlos da Costa

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