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  • Published: 22 August 2012
  • ISBN: 9780241145531
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

The Old Ways

A Journey on Foot




A major new book from one of Britain's finest nature writers about landscape and the human heart

In The Old Ways Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents 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, of pilgrimage and ritual, and of songlines and their singers. Above all this is a book about people and place: about walking as a reconnoitre inwards, and the subtle ways in which we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move.

Told in Macfarlane's distinctive and celebrated voice, the book folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature. His tracks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird-islands of the Scottish northwest, and from the disputed territories of Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he walks stride for stride with a 5000-year-old man near Liverpool, follows the 'deadliest path in Britain', sails an open boat out into the Atlantic at night, and crosses paths with walkers of many kinds - wanderers, wayfarers, pilgrims, guides, shamans, poets, trespassers and devouts.

He discovers that paths offer not just means of traversing space, but also of feeling, knowing and thinking. The old ways lead us unexpectedly to the new, and the voyage out is always a voyage inwards.

  • Published: 22 August 2012
  • ISBN: 9780241145531
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

About the author

Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks, and The Lost Words, co-created with Jackie Morris.Mountains of the Mind won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award and The Wild Places won the Boardman-Tasker Award. Both books have been adapted for television by the BBC. The Lost Words won the Books Are My Bag Beautiful Book Award and the Hay Festival Book of the Year. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The New York Times.

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