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And here is a taster from the Introduction:
''Perhaps there are more people than might be thought who would, like Laurie Lee, wish to leave their day-to-day life behind them for a little while and simply ‘walk out one midsummer morning’. And carry on walking.......
Or like Patrick Leigh Fermor, set out from Holland in 1934, meaning to mix only with chance acquaintances but finding himself ambling down the Danube on a horse borrowed from a Count.
Or like Hilaire Belloc, stride off down the wooded valley of the Moselle on a summer evening in 1901 with a quart of wine, a large piece of bread, half a pound of smoked ham, two newspapers and a sketch-book to begin ‘a kind of pilgrimage’ across Europe ‘on foot where one is a man like any other man, with the sky above one, and the road beneath, and the world on every side and time to see all’.
It must be done with kindness, of course, and not be escapism or a sneaking away from life’s responsibilities. It is the call of ‘the journey’: a significant progress which - in other words and in another sense - may be called a pilgrimage.
But ‘the journey’ need have nothing to do with faiths or churches. It was there long before that – as Homer portrayed. Deep inside is the instinct to ‘go a-roaming’, to travel unsystematically (as the dictionary would have it), to recognise a compulsion which lies dormant behind the most settled of lives. To follow the ways of the vagabond, the nomad, the rover; tramp the highways and byways and see what turns up.
All wishful thinking, you might say. There’s no room in the modern world to move freely across frontiers; to operate outside the organised group; to make a personal journey.
That would be wrong. There’s more room than ever before. You just need to take the first step.
And ‘the journey’ is more than just wandering. It has in it poetry, philosophy, a celebration of life. And what better time for anyone to begin such a journey but in early June when the paths through the meadows are lined with flowers and a summer’s promise beckons. The year might be 1901 or 1934 or 2008.
Hilaire Belloc’s journey began in the French frontier town of Toul in the evening of 6th June 1901 and reached Rome twenty-three days later on the 29th June 1901. The feat of walking 800 miles through eastern France, across the Swiss/Italian Alps and down through Lombardy, Tuscany and Latium is immortalised in The Path to Rome published in 1902.''
Walking with Mr Belloc: The Path to Rome
A Walk from Toul to the Tiber
e-book published March 2011
8 Chapters 9 Maps 223 Pages