Few books change the way you see familiar landscapes: this is one of them. A sacred, humble and rewarding journey, like the pilgrimage itself.
I loved this memoir - centuries of stories captured in the chalk, all told through the prism of one life.
This is a brilliantly modern take on one of the oldest of literary genres - the pilgrimage narrative. Gail Simmons walks a long-forgotten trail, and along the way encounters places, people and a myriad of obstacles, for who walks so far in today's car-obsessed world? But this is no ordinary walk, but one with a purpose: to discover the meaning of what it means to be British in these troubled and disjointed times.
As she follows a long-lost pilgrimage route, Gail Simmons finds a whole new way of looking at a familiar landscape. Every footstep is steeped in history, every path is imbued with the traces of all those who came before.
A stunningly evoked, sensitively drawn journey into a part of England that feels both ancient and entirely new. Such is the subtle power and lightly-worn erudition of Simmons' writing.
Through four pagan seasons, following the ancient Gough Map and the Old Way, Gail Simmons pioneers a very modern pilgrimage, but finds that the past is not so far away . . . walking becomes an act of faith again - but also, it becomes an act of vulnerability and strength, loneliness and connection, peril, exposure and joyful epiphany. Gail makes a compelling journey over iconic chalk country - between the sea and what once was the sea, to a homecoming we can all aspire to.
An old route for pilgrims is given new and vivid life through Gail Simmons as a solo woman walking. A compelling blend of history and nature writing that is a gift to all of us who love this iconic stretch of chalk cliffs and downland
Wandering the Old Way across 386km of the UK's south coast allows Simmons ample room to touch on history, folklore and modern politics. Along the way she also delves into what long walks, such as the old pilgrim trails, mean to us today and why being a woman walking along still feels like a radical act
This is a book for the modern pilgrim, as well as nature and history lovers.
An absorbing tale
A lively and well-informed companion that makes you - pilgrim or walker - want to see the places for yourself. It brings to life the world of pilgrimage, whether with its ancient focus on the goal, or the modern focus on the journey
[Gail] is an engaging companion, bringing to life the places and people she meets en route and offering thoughtful reflections on what it means to travel - especially as a lone woman. Delightful.
Such a joy to read . . . the author makes a great walking companion, sharing opinion, nostalgia and wit in warm tones. The Old Way deserves hikers' attention and love; we are lucky to have a chronicler as companionable as Simmons to tell its story.
The pace is pleasantly unhurried. Simmons observes the natural world with precision and affection from the modest summit of Ditchling Beacon to the sopping lowland of the Weald
Simmons is a veteran travel journalist, and she conveys a sense of place deftly . . . a welcome addition to the ever-growing library of British walking literature