BOOK REVIEW: Walking Away by Simon Armitage

Walking Away

By Simon Armitage Faber & Faber, Hardback, £16.99

The 630-mile walk called the South West Coast Path is not for Sunday strollers. It is a tough trek from Minehead in Somerset to Land’s End in Cornwall but it was the walk selected by Simon Armitage to follow a similar walk, five years ago along the Pennine Way.

But Simon doesn’t just do the walk and recount his experiences in this book. He takes no money and, at the end of each day’s journey, he gets together in a pub or meeting place, recites some of his poems, and then passes round a sock for those attending to put in whatever they feel is right.

It is an enchanting book, identifying how and why the former probation officer selected that particular route (which actually ends in the Scilly Isles), and even how and why he selected a particular hat to accompany his travels.

Almost a traveller’s guide to some of the most picturesque areas of the country, plus an insight into some of the poems which have been publishing in ten collections and for which he was made a CBE for his services to poetry.

Comic incidents, tough challenges, and, of course, facing up to our unusual weather pattern make is a very readable guide book – even for those not contemplating putting on their walking boots.