Books

Books : reviews

Robert MacFarlane.
The Old Ways: a journey on foot.
Penguin. 2012

In this elegantly written book, which folds together natural history, cartography, geology, and literature, Robert Macfarlane sets off to follow the ancient routes that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the voices that haunt old paths and the stories our tracks tell. Macfarlane’s journeys take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird islands of the Scottish northwest, from Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. He matches strides with the footprints made by a man 5,000 years ago near Liverpool, sails an open boat far out into the Atlantic at night, and commingles with walkers of many knides—discovering that paths offer not just a means of traversing space but also of feeling, knowing, and thinking.