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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 27 June 2012
This book is a real crowdpleaser, and will be lapped up by those of us who like SA himself as much as (or perhaps rather than) his poetry. There's very little of the latter, so the book works very well as a personal take on schlepping the wrong way down the Pennine Way. The writing is fluent yet arresting.

There's something very reassuring about SA's world of strong family ties, living local, indie rock and confectionery. In its own way it's no different from that of the Sunday evening TV dramas he jokes about as he goes through the Dales, but there is an honesty and a rootedness in the contemporary here which stops things becoming twee.
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on 15 January 2013
A book describing a walk could be very dull indeed, but SA strikes a good balance between describing the landscape and terrain, his own musings and the people he encounters. I don't know how someone from another part of the country would find this but having walked a lot in my native Cumbria and North Yorkshire I found it transmitted the feel of those places really well; perhaps less so North Yorks because that part has more of the thoughts/people than landscape, though I love his description of how the rock emits an atmosphere and type of light.

SA's use of language is, as you'd expect from a poet, inventive and beautifully descriptive and there are a few poems dotted through. For those with little patience with poetry they are short clear and enjoyable. A few more would have been nice but those are probably all he managed, being totally knackered every evening!! How he managed poetry readings is beyond me. There are some interesting photos too.

I gave this five stars because it's an original and interesting book.
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on 18 September 2012
I ordered this as a kindle book to read on holiday.I live in the foothills of the Pennines and thought I would be interested in Simons journey.Not so.I found it boring and repetitive in regard to the poetry readings he did .
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on 11 January 2013
I hoped for a great deal more insight into the places and people Simon Armitage saw and met (including his much-maligned friend Slug, who seemed to have a great deal of comic potential)and perhaps into his creative thinking as he yomped across the Dales. Didn't really happen. Nor any very dramatic events (got a bit lost twice and lost his walking poles). It turned into a series of repetitive lists with an anticlimactic ending.
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Simon Armitage's earthy humour and closeness to his Yorkshire roots are again to the fore, in this account of his recent trek across the Pennine Way - ostensibly an uneventful if gruelling journey, but one that, filtered through the poet's unique style, becomes a Homer-esque odyssey, where the elements are personified as demons attempting to thwart his quest, and where kind everyday folk provide the support (and frequent guilt-trips) that sustain the intrepid traveller and give him much food for thought.
Continuing a rich tradition in recent years of quirky travel writing, Armitage's latest book is utterly absorbing and eminently readable; if occasionally cloying when the writer attempts to pay homage to his wife and daughter, but he can surely be forgiven this minor indulgence, as the overall reading experience is a wholly rewarding one.
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on 9 September 2012
Simon Armitage describes the people he meets and the places he travels through so effortlessly - you feel as though you too have met them. He has a gift for catching what is idiosyncratic about human beings and the landscapes they have made and inhabit. I loved (almost) every minute I spent reading this book and felt humbled and inspired by Armitage's ability to relish the people he met.
The book is generally beautifully written - not full of the 'ouch' moments bad writing can give you. When Armitage does create a clumsy bit of language it can, though, really jar. The very last sentence of the book (in the credits) for instance reads 'to Sue who I walked home to.' There are a few other examples - including the inappropriate use of 'myself'(a particular bete noir of mine). This matters when you are reading something written by a poet who otherwise demonstrates that he knows that every word counts and matters.
The book was perhaps also a little too long - it seemed to be aspiring to the usual 300 plus pages and couldn't make it. Perhaps, Simon Armitage, also wanted to make sure that he was even handed in giving all the people who had helped him equal mentions.
All the same he gets five starts from me for giving me so much pleasure and for being such fun.Walking Home
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on 10 August 2012
The number of actual poems may be tiny, but there is poetry on every page of this book.

What do you look for in a book? Plot development? Characters? Observation and Insight? Language?

Plot development: None. In virtually every chapter, SA gets up, walks the next leg of his journey, and gives a poetry reading in the evening. Score: 0/10

Characters: Many (SA's hosts at the overnight stops, people who briefly walk along with him, even his family at one point) appear along the way, but disappear again almost as quickly. In a few lines of prose, they become real people - you won't find out much about their appearance, but you'll know exactly how you'd feel in their company. It is SA himself, of course, who is the central character; he spends a lot of time with himself over the course of the journey, and produces the most honest character portrait you could hope for - you feel you are inside the head of the narrator, complete with hopes and dreams, faults and foibles. Score: 7/10

Observation and Insight: This is where SA the poet comes into his own. Poetry heightens the senses, and every description - of a cairn, a crow, a peat bog, the hostel drying-room, an encounter with strangers - produces a glow of recognition or throws new light on the everyday. Score: 10/10

Language: Whether wry, humorous, melancholy, angry, lyrical or matter-of-fact, it is always limpid and a delight to read. This is a book for readers who like to savour every word; not for those who skim through to get to the next bit of action (you may skim in vain). Score: 10/10

Hill-walkers should particularly enjoy this book, but so should anyone with a sensibility to nature and fine writing. I certainly did.
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on 24 January 2015
more of a trudge than a walk... Why did he bother... Why did I bother... Disappointing...
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on 5 September 2012
The main trouble with this book, as Simon Armitage freely admits throughout, is that he just doesn't really want to be out there on the misty moors of northern England in the first place, and that lack of enthusiasm for the task in hand seeps into every chapter like water into a hiking boot. Walking books are notoriously tricky, given that they are generally based on days of relentless plodding that are remarkably similar to each other, so injecting variety and incident is a real challenge, and one that this author doesn't really overcome. The various supposed motivational strands for the book (the author on an alleged epic journey back home; the wandering poet paying his way with his own performances; walking the Pennine Way backwards; etc) all feel a bit half-hearted, and all pall very quickly. In the end this falls between various stools - it's neither a true epic tale, nor a poetic portrait of the landscape, nor an amusing travelogue - ultimately, it's a bit of an anti-climax, and again you sense this is a feeling shared by the writer. As for the poet's poems, the first one doesn't appear until half way through the book. A shame really, as more verse may have helped, although the fact that the average donation from the patrons of the nightly performances is well under £3 suggests otherwise.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 November 2015
Travel writing is all the rage these days it would seem and Yorkshire poet Simon Armitage’s voyage of self-discovery, traversing the Pennine Way the 'wrong way’ i.e. North to South, is another fine example. For me, Armitage’s engrossing account bears comparison with Bill Bryson’s fabulous trek along the Appalachian Trail in his book A Walk In The Woods and whilst the bard’s tale may lack some of Bryson’s hilarity (instead Armitage gives us much self-deprecating irony rather than side-splitting guffaws), Walking Home is still packed with amusement, educational content (for those of us not familiar with this part of Britain) and insights into the life of that rare breed, the poet. Actually, the comparison with Bryson’s book does extend further, with Bryson’s hilariously incompetent pal Katz finding a kindred spirit in Armitage’s old mucker Slug.

Of course, the other element to Armitage’s book is that of bringing us closer to the natural world and his obvious passion in this respect is brought home tellingly in his appreciation of flora and fauna (the latter in a delightful late encounter with a ring ouzel) and in the genuinely hair-raising experience on Cross Fell. Oh, and his attempts at listing an A to Z of goalkeepers were, of course, pretty pitiful – 'P’ is for the legendary Phil Parkes, of course!
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