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Walking Home Paperback – 4 Apr 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (4 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571249892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571249893
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'His memoir of rough landscape, wild weather, poetic lore and modern country and small town life is richly evocative of his Northern character.' --Iain Finlayson, The Times

'This is a hugely enjoyable and at times very funny book ... At every turn along the way he teases out such a series of jokey little scenes, reminiscences and observations that it is hard to read a single page without a chuckle ... Along the way we have the crisp and deadpan phrasing familiar from his poems ... It's all very gentle and self-deprecating with the ups and downs of the path, the weather and his moods. He is good company on the page ... And once or twice, from behind the jocular banter; comes a glimpse of the more serious poet, with heartfelt reflections on George Mackay Brown, the Odyssey and Sir Gawain And The Green Knight ... Walking Home can be added to his other engaging memoirs All Points North and Gig ... He is diligent, prolific and wide-ranging. By balancing humour and gravitas, he generates great affection in his readers. If he is not careful, Simon Armitage will end up becoming a national treasure.' -- Mail on Sunday

'Armitage has the rare gift of making his readers laugh out loud, as well as being surely the only poet to ever persuade the patrons of pubs and village halls from Scotland to Derbyshire to cram a total of £3,086.42 into a clean sock during 16 days' worth of poetic performance. But it is in moments of doubt, anxiety, cowardice and black misery that his book is at its most touchingly human. Like Odysseus and Sir Gawain, his is a flawed journey, with an untriumphant ending. But he does it. He goes home.' -- Telegraph

'Armitage has always been a wonderfully fluent writer, able to riff on almost any subject in either prose or poetry ... The result is a homage to an oddly old-fashioned Britain, full of glorious eccentrics and hearts of gold, but vividly believable for all that.' --Financial Times

'On the face of it, everything sounds rather plain, an old-fashioned world of packed lunches, mint cake and OS maps flapping in the wind, and also rather domestic ... But Walking Home is much more than this suggests. Armitage's great gift is his voice. He is able to make his walk talk as he does and I have never read a more fully inhabited book of walking. It is funny but moving, quiet but strong' -- Observer

'Armitage's journey is more pedestrian; a manageable distance along a worn path through familiar faces. But it's exactly those things which make this book so lovely. There are a thousand blogs out there offering accounts of walking everything from the Mongolian Steppes to Deptford High Street, all of them filled with exclamation marks and epiphanies, and all of them completely unreadable. But Armitage's account is so observant, so funny and so intensely likable you leave it wishing he'd picked a longer route. The dialogue is note-perfect and the jokes alone are worth the journey. And at the end of it all, Armitage has achieved far more than his stated ambition. Walking Home tells us not just about the bones of Britain, but about connections still to be forged between people and print, and the everlasting power of an open heart.' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Simon Armitage decided to walk the Pennine Way back to his birthplace, like a troubadour, like a tramp, like a human camera who turned what he saw on the way into words. A wonderful book.' --Jeanette Winterson, The Times Books of the Year

'[Armitage's] memoir of rough landscape, wild weather, poetic lore and modern country and small town life is richly evocative of his Northern character.' --The Times, Summer Books Roundup

'Laconic, contemplative style, and assured writing.' Sunday Business Post

'Wonderful blend of dry humour ... also a triumphant realisation that even if 'the land doesn't care, not one jot' about his odyssey, there are plenty of enthusiastic people along the route who turn out to support him.' --Daily Mail

Book Description

With Walking Home, join Simon Armitage on his heroic, hilarious and moving feat to walk the Pennine Way without a penny in his pocket.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Walking Home by Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage doesn't half make it hard for himself. The Pennine Way is bad enough South to North but the other way round, and having to sing (read poetry) for your supper is just plain daft, but in a good way... And this is a joyous book for, all the privations of walking day in and day out. He has a wonderful turn of phrase, knowing but open hearted, soaking up all the experiences and a great line in self-deprecation. There are some very funny moments (the Doughnut-man outside the poetry reading venue is terrific; only in Yorkshire, perhaps?) and a fabulous attention to detail. He knows about birdlife and about physical geography (and he's probably a dab hand at Weber's Concentric Rings Theory should any human geography scenarios kick-in) and he has enough other folk along for the walk to cover all the other bases.

So what we have is a very good writer, who knows a thing or two, with a bunch of others who know a thing or two too and the ever changing weather and the hills and a fair smattering of characters who pop up at readings or stick things in Simon's `collecting money for the poet sock' (read the book, all will be explained). It really is a marvellous picture of England, northern England particularly, but low-fi, walking-pace, turned-out-nice-again England. And it was a damned good idea; just right for this particular poet (there are plenty of poets I can think of who'd not get this right, they'd go and fall off Hadrian's Wall or catch trench-foot or take a helicopter...). And the fact that... no, I won't say how it ends but it isn't what you expect but is absolutely right. And if you get the chance to hear/see Simon talking about this book (perhaps in a major Midlands' city in October 2012) you get a free slide shown thrown in for nothing; can't say fairer than that.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting well written book; not at all like the usual nerdish walking guides. But my gut feeling is that it wasn't written as a result of the walk but rather the walk was undertaken in order to write the book. There's an awful lot of these book driven enterprises about these days. Some years ago Victoria Coren wrote a book about making a porn film but again I suspect the book deal came before the porn film.

As a former long distance walker myself I am baffled by Simon Armitage's mindset and psyche. I suppose it must come from his profession and the ability to write to order about virtually anything and make a drama about it; even when no drama really exists. Despite being equipped with mobile phone, satelite navigation, maps, guide books and numerous volunteer guides he plumbed the depths of despair when lost in the mud and mists along the way. And as for the ending; words fail me.

While his book isn't nerdish I was amused by his careful counting and recording of his takings down to the last penny every night. Apart from anything else, the books absurd notion of earning his living as a 'modern troubadour' is ridiculous. His careful income/expenditure audit took absolutely no account of the time spent by a great many people organizing his walk and poetry readings and helping along the way.

All that being said, I greatly admire his technical skills as a writer; mores the pity they couldn't be put to better use.

One final thought. What on earth was he carrying in that heavy pink suitcase? Surely not sales samples!
3 Comments 33 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By C. Colley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Simon Armitage is a modern day poet and author. He decides to walk the 256 mile Pennine Way in the summer of 2010 from north to south, so that he feels like he is walking 'home' towards Yorkshire, rather than away from it.
The main feature of his challenge is to finance the trip with pre-arranged poetry readings at various places along the away.
The book describes his highs and lows of the walk and the varied personalities he meets on the route and at the poetry reading in the evenings.
'Walking Home' is not specifically aimed at people who enjoy walking, but it is the initial reason why I first became interested in this book. I actually think that it will appeal to walkers and non walkers alike. I'm not a fan of poetry at all and Simon's account of his trip does not get bogged down with poems. There are just three or four poems in there.
The author's accounts of the people he meets, the scenery and his personal struggles with the physical and mental stress of the walk are enjoyable and interesting to read.
Although Simon's journey is more about the experience of walking the Pennine Way, the breakdown of the route may be useful to walkers thinking of undertaking the long distance walk. Those that have already done it may like to read about what they have already achieved and know what the author is talking about.
Overall, this is an engaging read, written in a style that will appeal to a wide audience.
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Format: Hardcover
An easy and engaging read, and Simon Armitage's descrptions of people and places are masterful. If, like me, you have never walked the length of the Pennine Way, but have touched it in different spots over years of walking, you'll recognise the countryside, the villages and towns and the utter bleakness of high grounds. Mud and rain occupy many of the pages making it almost real. It hasn't encouraged me to walk the whole distance, so perhaps if you're thinking of the enterprise yourself, you might read this first. It shows too that earning a living as a wandering poet is unlikely to be successful in the long run.

Of course, we wonder about the walker's personal effort on the one hand and the energy and time of the many other people involved on the other, and the whole orchestration of the walk and the poetry readings, which SA gratefully and fulsomely acknowledges at the end, but read it for the pleasure of moving through the countryside with him, for the power of the writing and the enormous baggage of adjectives Armitage took with him.
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