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A Walk Through Britain

A Walk Through Britain - John Hillaby I enjoyed this book and Hillaby. My regret is that he had to do the walk so quickly and sometimes did not have enough time to linger, explore more and talk to people more. I love the idea of doing a long cross-country walk like this. "For 3 days I walked fast and far, heading due north from the Manifold Valley into Dovedale and thence by Tideswell and Castleton into the Peak District of north Derbyshire. Anyone even slightly familiar with that splended up-hill-and-down-dale country will realize the inadequacy of these fleeting impressions. They were written down, rapidly, whenever I sensed a change in topographical mood, a new industry, different plants, a different kind of feeling underfoot. I talked to more people here than almost anywhere else, for the country is intimate and neighborly. It gives the impression of having been used. Even the fissures in the deceptively soft-looking limestone crags are hung about with hawthorn and ash. They have grandeur, but they are not overpowering. You can spend the night among them, comfortably, as among friends." p.141"Only 10 miles to go.Ten miles to what? To a mere name on a map? What had it all amounted to? Why hadn't I spent more time seeing fewer places more leisurely, using a car here and there? I finished my journey as I had started it two months earlier, that is by asking myself a lot of questions. The difference was I could now answer some of those I had thought most about.Part of the journey could certainly have been done more easily by car, but it would have been an entirely different journey. Roads are all more or less alike. Walking is intimate; it releases something unknown in any other form of travel, and as arduous as it can be, the spring of the ground underfoot varies as much as the moods of the sky. By walking the whole way I got a sense of gradual transition from one place to another, a feeling of unity. The mosaic of my own country and its people had become a sensible pattern. Memory now acts like that little polished cylinder in the museum at Fort William which puts together the fragments of the portrait of the Bonny Prince. But this had been achieved at some cost. Rain depressed me and mist I feared -- mist on Dartmoor, on Kinder Scout, in the Cheviots above Redesdale and in at least three places in Scotland where, on the high tops, there is the additional hazard of drifting cloud. Cloud is impenetrable. It brought me to a stop. Through mist I went on, perhaps unwisely, but with caution and faith in a map and a bearing. I feared only a sudden drop, a creag. There are no unpredictable drops that I know of in England. Only on Dartmoor are there bogs that I would not willingly venture near again, at least not in a mist. ... p.277-8"Those in search of the spectacular from a well-found track should walk across Glencoe by way of Rannoch Moor and look back on the pass from the Staircase. As to the rest of Scotland, Glen Dessary, Quoich, the hills about Loch Hourn and Wester Ross are more deserted, certainly more theatrical than I could have imagined. Assynt I am unlikely to tackle again." p.280