Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to travel the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast network of old routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt ancient paths, of the stories our tracks tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, trespass and transgress, of songlines and their singers, of border-crossings and landscape portals, and of walking as a reconnoitre inwards.
Told in Macfarlane's distinctive and lyrical voice, the book folds together geology, archaeology, natural history and cartography, and is densely peopled by eccentrics, visionaries, artists and poets, all of whom understand themselves by means of landscape. Along the way, Macfarlane sleeps out in copses and beehive shielings, on mountain-tops and chalk downs. He discovers, above all, that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but also ways of feeling, being, knowing and thinking.