Pilgrimpace's Blog

July 18, 2016, 9:15 pm
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The simplicity of walking – the essential humanness of putting one foot in front of another – made a deep kind of sense. The more I thought about taking that first step, and following it with another, and another, the more fundamental it felt. What better way to know Europe than to expose myself to it completely, to be aware of each splatter of rain, each stone beneath my feet? How better to understand the processes of loss and change than to travel in the shadow of Paddy’s words? Above all, what better way to have an old-fashioned adventure?

.- Walking the Woods and Water, Nick Hunt


the man of the mani
June 23, 2015, 1:20 pm
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There was a very good radio programme about Patrick Leigh Fermor and the Mani on Radio 4 yesterday.  You can listen to it here.  Definitely worth it.  It’s made me want to pick his books off the shelf again.


as I walked out … again

There is a superb essay by Robert MacFarlane on As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning here.  I appreciate his acknowledgement of those who walk and tramp due to poverty, and his engagement with this part of Lee’s book, rather then romanticisation or skipping over.  (Does anyone know what the memoir of the Tramp named Toby is?  I’d like to read it).

There is the noticing of the similarity of timing of Lee’s walk through Europe with Patrick Leigh Fermor’s.  It is worth reading MacFarlane’s account of his own walk over the Guadarrama Mountains in The Old Ways (also the bit of that book where he gets to grips with pilgrimage).


This review by Ronald Blythe of Nick Groom’s The Seasons is wonderful.  It’s on my book token list.

January 30, 2014, 9:19 am
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setting sun over the severn

setting sun over the severn


One is only sometimes warned, when these processes begin, of their crucial importance: that certain poems, paintings, kinds of music, books, or ideas are going to change everything, or that one is going to fall in love or become friends for life; the many strands, in fact, which, plaited together, compose a lifetime.  One should not be able to detect the muffled bang of the starter’s gun.

– Patrick Leigh Fermor The Broken Road

kit list

I am fascinated by Patrick Leigh Fermor’s kit list from Between the Woods and the Water once he was into his stride on his very long walk through Europe in the mid 1930’s:

My kit seemed in as good repair as the first day.  The ammunition boots from Millets in the Strand, crunching along on their only slightly blunted hobnails, were still good for unlimited miles.  The old breeches were soft with much wear and cleaning, and every stitch was intact; only the grey puttees had suffered minor damage, but nothing showed when I had snipped off the ragged edges where snow and rain had frayed them.  A grey shirt with sleeves rolled up completed this marching gear.  (I was darkening to the hue of a teak sideboard, with hair correspondingly bleached by the sun.)  I blessed my stars that my first rucksack, with its complex framework and straps, heavy waterproof sleeping bag and White Knight superfluity of gear had been stolen in Munich; the one my Baltic Russian friends had bestowed was smaller but held all I needed; to wit: a pair of dark flannel bags and another light canvas pair; a thin, decent-looking tweed jacket; several shirts; two ties, gym shoes, lots of socks and jerseys, pyjamas, the length of coloured braid Angela had given me; a dozen new hankerchiefs (as we know) and a sponge-bag, a compass, a jack-knife, two candles, matches, a pipe – falling into disuse – tobacco, cigarettes and – a new accomplishment – papers for rolling them, and a flask filled in turn, as the countries changed, with whisky, Bols, schnapps, barack, tzuica, slivovitz, arak and tziporo.  In one of the side pockets there was a five shilling Ingersoll watch that kept perfect time when I remembered to take it out and wind it up.  The only awkward item was the soldier’s greatcoat; I hadn’t worn it for months, but felt reluctant to get rid of it.  (Luckily.  It was perfect for sleeping out, and folded into a tight sausage and tied around the top of the rucksack, scarcely visible.)  I still had the Hungarian walking-stick, intricately carved as a medieval crosier, the second replacement for the original ninepenny ashplant from the tobacconists off Sloane Square.  Apart from my sketch-book, pencils and disintegrating maps, there was my notebook journal and my passport.  (Dog-eared and faded, these sole survivors are both within reach at this moment).  There was ‘Hungarian’ and ‘Rumanian Self-Taught’ (little progress in the one, hesitant first steps in the other); I was re-reading ‘Antic Hay’; and there was Schlegel and Tieck’s ‘Hamlet, Prinz von Danemark’, bought in Cologne; also, give by the same kind hand as the rucksack, and carefully wrapped up, the beautiful little seventeenth-century duodecimo Horace from Amsterdam.  It was bound in stiff, grass-green leather; the text had long s’s, mezzotint vignettes of Tibur, Lucretilis and the Bandusian spring, a scarlet silk marker, the giver’s bookplate and a skeleton-leaf from his Estonian woods.

If I were to read this without reading the accompanying journey, how much of it would I know?  It is also interesting to guess the weight and compare it against the modern concern for lightweight backpacking (and to speculate as to how much the stolen bag contained!).

And the best news of all is that the third volume of Leigh Fermor’s account, The Broken Road, should be published in a year …

more leigh fermor to come
December 20, 2011, 1:22 pm
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Patrick Leigh Fermor’s third volume will be published in 2013.  Details here

August 5, 2011, 4:35 pm
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I’ve been lucky enough to be away for a couple of weeks holiday with my family in Greece.  We stayed on the small, quiet island of Symi, tucked in between Rhodes and Turkey.  After a tough year at work it has been wonderful to relax in heat and peacefulness.  There will be some posts soon on my encounters with Symiot life, on a pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Taxiarchis at Panormitis, and from my (incongruous?) reading while I was there of Thomas Hardy and Patrick Leigh Fermor’s non-Greek books.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures: