Award-winning writer, traveller and explorer, Hugh Thomson turns to his own country and makes a journey to find the source and wellspring of Britain.
Hugh Thompson lives at the very centre of Britain – literally, as his Oxfordshire village is the geographical point furthest from the sea – and from there he travelled out to its furthest edges. As with his other books, this is a journey enlivened and made rich by the characters he meets along the way. And the ways he takes are the old ways, the drover-paths and tracks, the Icknield and Ridge and Fosse Ways, the paths and ditches half covered by bramble and tunnelled by elder, beech and oak: the trails that can still be traced by those who know where to look.
At times he joins a community of travellers on the road as they travel through the underbelly of the country, scraping a living from the fringes of society. Just as in his book about Peru, The White Rock, Hugh will show how older, seemingly forgotten cultures like the Celts, Saxons and Vikings lie much closer to the surface than we may think; they have created some of the fault lines of land, wealth and privilege that we still live with. In recent years, archaeologists have uncovered some remarkable new findings about these cultures that have yet to percolate through to the wider public.
“He is an illuminating companion…frequently comic, his voice is original and engaging; proof that it is the walker, not the path, that counts.”
“An immensely enjoyable book: curious, articulate, intellectually playful and savagely candid.”
“He records more than impressions: there are fascinating excursions into neglected areas of British history, and conversations with hippies, travellers and farmers, which makes Mr Thomson’s journey a joy to follow.”
“Often funny and always enlightening”
Candida Lycett Green, Countryfile
“I would love to walk with Thomson”
John Sutherland, Financial Times
“Thomson undertakes a 400-mile journey coast-to-coast along drover paths, bramble-filled ditches and half-forgotten tracks, discovering remnants of forgotten cultures in this celebration of old England and its heritage.”
“Thomson provides a solid sense of place and the reader gets to know the route and its distinctive features.”
Times Literary Supplement
“This sparky account of a walk from Dorset to Norfolk had this reader nodding about the "strikingly neurotic behaviour… that often lies beneath the English skin" in the characters of Wind in the Willows, applauding the recognition that "Empire didn't suit us. It brought out the bossy, inflexible, hierarchical side" and whooping at Thomson's use of tie and clipboard to enter the officially imposed sanctum sanctorum of Stonehenge.”
“Gently told, with rich humour and an enjoyable sense of inquiry.”