The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
A Journey on Foot

78%

6 Critic Reviews

He coins the word "xenotopia" to describe an uncanny landscape, and for my money the part of the book that nails this concept best, and which will get you irrevocably hooked on his writing, is when he travels the Broomway, a contingent path along tidal sands between Wakering Stairs and Foulness in Essex...
-Guardian

Synopsis

From the acclaimed author of The Wild Places, an exploration of walking and thinking

In this exquisitely written book, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge, England, home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove roads, and sea paths that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories 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, and of pilgrimage and ritual.

Told in Macfarlane’s distinctive voice, The Old Ways folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature. His walks 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. Along the way he crosses paths with walkers of many kinds—wanderers, pilgrims, guides, and artists. Above all this is a book about walking as a journey inward and the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move.  Macfarlane discovers that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but of feeling, knowing, and thinking.
 

About Robert Macfarlane

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ROBERT MACFARLANE is the author of the prize-winning books of Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places, both of which were New York Times Notable Books. He has contributed to Harper's, Granta, The Observer, The Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
 
Published October 11, 2012 by Penguin Books. 445 pages
Genres: Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Education & Reference, History, Biographies & Memoirs, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Old Ways
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Rob Nixon on Dec 07 2012

...Macfarlane has given us a gorgeous book about physical movement and the movement of memory, one that resounds with stories told to “the beat of the placed and lifted foot.”

Read Full Review of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Jul 02 2013

He coins the word "xenotopia" to describe an uncanny landscape, and for my money the part of the book that nails this concept best, and which will get you irrevocably hooked on his writing, is when he travels the Broomway, a contingent path along tidal sands between Wakering Stairs and Foulness in Essex...

Read Full Review of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Jul 02 2013

He has managed, as far as I can see, to avoid repeating himself even as he revisits previous haunts.

Read Full Review of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by William Dalrymple on Jun 09 2012

Like Baker, Macfarlane is read above all for the beauty of his prose and his wonderfully innovative and inventive way with language.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Alexandra Harris on May 31 2012

One senses Macfarlane trying to keep all his subjects in balance: he is writing about Thomas, about himself, about himself tracking Thomas, about paths in general and in particular.

Read Full Review of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by JAMES CAMPBELL on Oct 19 2012

As the pen rises from the page between words, so the walker's feet rise and fall between paces...

Read Full Review of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for The Old Ways
82%

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