[PDF] ✅ The Old Ways By Robert Macfarlane – Transportjobsite.co.uk



10 thoughts on “The Old Ways

  1. says:

    I didn t enjoy this book at all I thought it was as boring as it was well written Walking isn t a subject that interests me much, but the location and history of the walks does There was too much about the minutae of the walks long lists of every kind of plant and a thesaurusful of synonyms The author is in love with words for words sake I m not, I like the words to go somewhere, and these didn t for me.Written whilst reading the book view spoiler I m listening to the BBC abridged book, as I often do before buying the print book and sometimes, as with Oliver Sacks wonderful On the Move the abridgement is truly awful and to anyone who has read and loved the book, mystifying It makes you wonder if the editor has actually read the book or relied on synopses of each chapter So I am wondering if this abridgement is not indicative of the whole book but this one has to interest me enough to buy it, and so far it hasn t hide spoiler


  2. says:

    This one really hit the sweet spot for me It gets you tuned into walking journeys all over the U.K with side trips in Spain, Palestine, and Tibet Lyrical presentations of the author s sensory experiences with the geography and the flora and fauna are harnessed as a gateway to history of the particular paths he took and the inspired outlooks of people who have thought deeply about the affinity of the human mind and civilization to walking in general and connectedness to the land I have long been fascinated by how people understand themselves using landscape, by the topographies of self we carry within us and by the maps we make with which to navigate these interior terrains We think in metaphors drawn from place and sometimes those metaphors do not only adorn our thought, but actively produce it.MacFarlane finds insight in how much human language is infused with words for travel paths and their purpose For example, an Aboriginal tribe in western Canada has the same word for knowledge and footprint , and the Tibetan word shul carries the senses of path forward , footprint , and awareness of past events English is particularly rich in pregnant words for pathways Pilgrim paths, green roads, drove roads, corpse roads, trods, leys, dykes, drongs, sarns, snickets say the names of paths out loud and at speed and they become a poem or rite holloways, bostles, shuts, driftways, lichways, ridings, halterpaths, cartways, carneys, causeways, herepaths.MacFarlane reckons he was walked 5 or 6 thousand miles on his foot journeys Some of his predecessors were even obsessed with this mode of being Wordsworth is believed to have trekked over 100,000 miles Wittgenstein literally couldn t think properly without walking His favorite walking afficionadoes are the British poet and essayist Edward Thomas, who worked early in the 20th century led him and inspired Robert Frost to write his most famous poem, Two Roads , and Nan Shepherd, who wrote philosophical meditations in the 1970 s on her experience with the high rocky trails of the Scottish Cairngorns As McFarlane visits the ancient pathways they explored through the British geology of chalk and granite, he revisits their ideas on the conflation time and space Paths and their markers have long worked on me like lures drawing my sight up and on and over The eye is enticed by a path, and the mind s eye also The imagination cannot help but pursue a line in the land onwards in space but also backwards in time to the histories of a route and its previous followers As I walk paths I often wonder about their origins, the impulses that have led to their creation, the records they yield of customary journeys, and the secrets they keep of adventures, meetings and departures.The concept that the earliest stories are told not in print but footprint is brought home by a walk on a beach where erosion of each tide uncovers prehistoric footprints preserved in the mud He walks in the path of a hunter and spies prints left by playing children He makes a wonderful digression on the anatomy of feet The whole foot is a document of motion, inscribed by repeated action Babies from those first foetal footfalls, the kneading of the sole against womb wall, turning themselves like astronauts in black space have already creased their soles by the time they emerge into the world.McFarlane finds further roots for his mode of thinking in the romanticism of George Burrow in the mid 19th century and early environmentalism of John Muir toward the end of the century But as with classic travel books, he takes delight in the inspiration of the colorful, living people he meets on his journeys His story is enriched as he expands his line of thinking to seaways and riverways A trip in a small boat in the Outer Hebrides to a remote bird nesting island long targeted for an annual harvest leads to ruminations on how human use of known pathways over the water in prehistoric times made these apparently isolated communities by the sea connected culturally with comparable seafaring peoples in the Baltic and Mediterranean countries than with communities of inland U.K at the time the sea as gateway A visit to ancient pilgrim paths in Spain and Tibet rounds out the wonderful journeys in this book.This book brought me exquisite pleasures and permanently shaped how I look at the world I place it on my spiritual shelf with treasured travel books such as Mattiessen s The Snow Leopard , Cotwin s In Patagonia , and Bryson s A Walk in the Woods The inscription to the volume still resonates it is about a road which begins miles before I could come on its traces and ends miles beyond where I had to stop Edward Thomas 1913


  3. says:

    We picked the path up at the edge of the cloud cover that day, she said, and then we stepped into the mist under the mountain and the rest of the world was lost Robert MacFarlane is a Cambridge professor of modern English literature However, he happens to be much better known for his secondary profession his travel writing on the interactions between landscapes and human personalities He is interested in how we are affected by the landscapes that we travel in and, even so how people understand themselves using landscape, by the topographies of self we carry within us and by the maps we make with which to navigate these interior terrains We think in metaphors drawn from place and sometimes those metaphors do not only adorn our thought, but actively produce it Landscape, to borrow George Eliot s phrase, can enlarge the imagine range for self to move in.Therefore, he does not belong to the tradition of travel and nature writers who primarily believe in the exploration of nature as an escape or a forgetting exercise, at least not purely He repeatedly reaffirms his agreement with the Scottish novelist Nan Shepherd s belief that when she went walking, she ended up walking not up but into mountains He says these are the consequences of the old ways with which I feel the easiest walking as enabling sight and thought rather than encouraging retreat and escape paths as offering not only means of traversing space, but also ways of feeling, being and knowing He frequently cites examples of famous thinkers Charles Darwin, Rousseau, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and in the least shocking news ever Wordsworth who found walking to be the same as thinking, who needed to be moving through a landscape in order to process their thoughts properly indeed they could not think without the aid of this mechanism He thus identifies himself as a part of this tradition of intellectual walkers that began in the nineteenth century and continued after the carnage of WWI when wounded, horrified soliders sought a way back, a way to rebuild well everything Their felt connection to the land inspired some of their most important work MacFarlane is particularly inspired by the nature walks of one of his personal heroes, the poet Edward Thomas His story appears and re appears throughout the book as an increasingly loud melody, his story the proof positive of MacFarlane s somewhat mystical belief in the power of the land we walk on to shape us all.In The Old Ways, MacFarlane explores the relationship of the self and the landscape through exploring the old ways, of England, Scotland and Ireland, with some illuminating side trips elsewhere He follows well worn pilgrim trails and forbidden, almost gone trade routes of Palestine, the holloways, bostles, shutes, driftways, lichways, greenways, ridings, halterpaths, cartways, carneys, causeways and herepaths, of pre modern life that have almost been forgotten He is interested in the permeable, non linear nature of time that can be created by experiencing such paths through the lens of then and now He is following those thinkers, walkers, and post WWI soldiers who hoped that walking such paths might lead you in Hudson s phrase to slip back out of this modern world Repeatedly, these wanderers spoke of the tingle of connection, of walking as s ance, of voices heard along the way They half hoped, half feared to meet ghosts on these paths, and often than not, found them.Each chapter recounts a walk that MacFarlane took down one of these old ways that he s chosen to walk In the first chapter, MacFarlane walks out from his Cambridge home to the Ickneid Way, supposedly the oldest path in Britain, and the subject of a short book by Thomas himself This is followed by a high tide only present path called the Broomway, replete with quicksand and a sometime bomb testing site, a strictly time limited trip down the historical way He then explores coastal sea lanes in the waters off Scotland with the sailor poet called Ian, and makes a trip to an island in the Outer Hebrides to see the secretive annual slaughter of unappetizing birds on an inhospitable rock known as Sula Sgeir He finds an almost gone crofters road on the isle of Lewis with only the aid of some stones, placed like Hansel and Gretel to guide one safely home, finding it by looking only for disturbances to the expected being alert to unforeseen interactions, in a glen of stones It is the most enchanted walk in the set, all the so for the back country nature of it But if you read one chapter, just one, you must meet Miguel Angel and his Madrid Library, of over one thousand walks, and find your past, your present and your future in its Borgesian mysterious glass cases.In perhaps the darkest and certainly the most haunting walk of all, MacFarlane takes a trip to China to walk the countryside around and just beneath the terrifying mountain of Minya Konka When he inquires why they cannot attempt to climb at least part of the mountain, he is told a horrifying story about a previous climbing party This party had come to the mountain approximately twenty years earlier and only got as far as the base area of the mountain before it was hit by an avalanche Two of the climbers had serious injuries, one escaped unharmed, but one, a nature photographer named Jonathan, broke his neck and died in the arms of one of the other climbers The men, having no real choice at the time, buried the dead hiker in a crevasse in a glacier nearby the site, marking the spot with a ceremonial cairn Twenty years later, one of the hikers returned with the daughter of the dead hiker, who wanted to discover what it was about the mountain that her father had died for When they arrived, they found the cairn, but also found a flap of Gore tex showing beneath the stones He understood straight away what had happened The glacier had shifted, and the cairn had shifted with it, but in the surprisingly tender way of glaciers Jonathan s frozen body had been pushed to the surface Rick told Asia the photographer s daughter to wait at a distance and made her confirm that she wanted to see her father She did and so she approached, and there her father was, not returned from the grave but returned by it She was able to see him in the flesh, preserved, twenty years later, as well as the day he died She could touch his face, and she did so She cut a lock of hair Shortly afterwards, they reburied Jonathan, twenty years on from his death It is difficult, given the set up, structure, content and highly educated British nature of it all, not to compare MacFarlane s journey to that other erudite, epic walker of British extraction, Leigh Fermor Both men are artists of the Self who find that Self through extensive walks in unfamiliar places, where they change and are changed by their surroundings and the poetic, eccentric, beautiful and singular people and places that they meet along the way However, there is no danger of confusing them Leigh Fermor s personal kaleidoscope has him processing nature through human culture and looking outwards on a macro level He is interested in seeing Holland s farms through British paintings, German politics as somewhat grotesque adventure, and the backwoods as a fairy story He paints himself, like Jane Austen, through what he says and does and leaves it to us to decide what his character is from what he has shown us.By contrast, MacFarlane looks much explicitly inwards He offers extensive, almost journalistic descriptions of his surroundings, heavily woven through with literary comparisons and metaphors that give us the flavor of his mind But he is much inclined to soliloquies that directly discuss the state of his thoughts and his analysis of others he tells us directly about the memories he carries with him, and his peak experiences, of emotion as he stands at the edge of a cliff One of my favorite insights from MacFarlane in the book is a variation on this theme We lack we need a term for those places where one experiences a transition from a known landscape onto John s far side of the moon, into Berry s another world somewhere we feel and think significantly differently I have for some time been imagining such transitions as border crossings He suggested that we might call such lands that are found beyond our frontiers, as xenotopias, which means foreign places or out of place places This wish for a between space, somewhere sacred and apart from the present, halfway between the past and the future, where time is all one and all time is beautiful reminded me a great deal of T.S Eliot, particularly his first quartet, with the bird in the garden inviting us into another world where the light dappled differently across the pool and witches ingredients lay in the moss at the feet of each tree.I don t hesitate to compare him with Eliot, as I found MacFarlane s writing to be vastly gorgeous the vast majority of the time He has exquisite taste in picking both a suitable and unexpected word, and expanded my naturalist vocabulary in both English and Gaelic many times over, and yet it avoids feeling pretentious He has a lovely ear for imagery and his descriptions are striking and catch one off guard not just for the word choice, but for the way that he processes the imagery I also think that his clear passion for each of his subjects is crystal clear, but mostly conveyed in a way that suggests that this adds to his knowledge and supports his thesis, rather than detracting from it I also think that his choice to mix genres here, a mash up of a formal academic essay with the thesis statement, set piece and literature review all properly up top and a personal journal, worked for him It allowed him to veer back and forth as it suited the experience and his particular argument he was making at the time though some might find the academic expectations set up at the beginning frustrating as they are not fulfilled Finally, I actually just deeply admire how thoroughly he seems to be able to remember and process each moment of his experience, filtering it through gorgeous literature and his prism of experience.However, he can become rather mystical at times I suppose this is unsurprising He also never met a metaphor that he did not like Indeed, what meaning there is to be derived from this book comes entirely from whether or not the reader can connect with the metaphors that he uses to process what is happening around him His proposed thesis is simply that we are affected by the landscapes around us, whether we realize it or not, but his evidence, however powerful and passionate, is anecdotal, so how effective it is will largely depend on how much you are able to connect personally with his viewpoints and the stories told Finally, he can become rather repetitive as the book goes on I expect this is one of those books that is best read in individual chapters, spaced apart by days or even weeks I read it all in one big chunk, and eventually the hundredth magical description of a magical forgotten land started to run together in my mind I suspect that this was a disservice to a book that deserved all of my mind s attention on each word of exquisite prose But even despite my poor reading plan the power of his passion was enough to carry me through, as he tells us over and over to take one look, just one, at what we have around us, and does it with such a lovely passion that it is usually not a strain to listen one time Landscape is still often understood as a noun connoting fixity, scenery, an immobile painterly decorum I prefer to think of the word as a noun containing a hidden verb scapes , it is dynamic and commotion causing, it sculpts and shapes us not only over the courses of our lives, but instant by instant, incident by incident I prefer to take landscape as a collective term for the temperature and the pressure of the air, the fall of light and its rebounds, the textures and surfaces of rock, soil and building, the sounds cricket screech, bird cry, wind through trees , the scents pine resin, hot stone, crushed thyme , and the uncountable other transitory phenomena and atmospheres that together comprise the bristling presence of a particular place at a particular moment.


  4. says:

    To begin with I found this a disappointing read I expected to be impressed and enthralled I love mountains, I love walking, and I like erudite writing, but I found this a little difficult to get into The writing flows, but the contents don t always work I think this is because Macfarlane quotes from too many different sources, and it seems as if he is wanting to show you all the clever stuff he has read without saying anything himself If you find this I say persevere, because it settles down and one or two pieces are excellent and moving especially the penultimate chapter This is not quite the masterpiece it could have been, and whilst a good writer with some excellent passages which just float over you, MacFarlane is occasionally heavy handed Sometimes he takes you with him, but on other occasions you are a distant observer Also, whilst there is a general topic of walking it does not quite hang together as a coherent whole It is shame in a way, because had of it been like the end of the book and less like the start and this could have been a masterpiece However, it is still worth four stars and my criticism is less that it is not good, but not as good as it could have been I would still recommend it as a pleasing, intellectual and yet generally easy read.


  5. says:

    What I like about this is that it helps me to see the land and the biosphere, feel the land and its life in my body, to relate myself to the land, even in memory, and in the future As Naomi Klein puts it in This Changes Everything Capitalism vs The Climate, love will save this place And for many of Robert s fellow British, who have been what Klein, again, calls rootless consumers for most of our lives, feeling connected to the land other than in a proprietorial or nationalistic way I guess might be something we can t even remember, something we have to learn like a new language I guess this book is all about the human in the land, about history, traces of other people, ancient and now And maybe thinking into the land this way is awesome and helpful In nature is excitement and sustenance and restoration, half a way out of the deadness and disaffection of our culture But something seemed disturbingly unconscious about it, how nothing about it made me feel the threat of climate change, how the text is almost studiously apolitical, even in Palestine.Her brow furrowed The Israelis have stolen this land from us, they are thieves I once wrote a letter to Ronald Reagan, I knew it would go in the waste paper basket, but I needed to get it off my chest Dear President Reagan, it beganI stopped listening.And went on with his own thing Like the president At first I thought Robert was old, but when I realised he was not much older that me, he started to remind me very intensely of someone another white guy I used to know, who treated me like dirt when I became inconvenient And I started to think this is not so much about the human as about the self The self with the luxury to choose when and where to connect And it was an effort for me to read sympathetically after that But, he does pick some fine words and fine quotes, especially from Nan Shepherd, who I d already been looking forward to reading.


  6. says:

    This was an interesting and well written book The author clearly love words and is frequently intoxicated by them.I enjoyed the first half than the second His familiarity with and attention to the details of the local is wonderful Later, when he travels Abroad and clearly does not have a feel for the terrain or its history, it was not so great And I could have done without the long biographical section on Thomas Just a passing comment, as this is not a concern of the book I found it a bit odd that someone so attached to the landscape would seemingly have so little concern for environmental destruction or the slaughter of animals Perhaps he didn t want to be political by venturing into that territory.Anyway somewhat highly recommended than my rating indicates If you are interested in walking, in premodern paths, or in British landscape you will probably enjoy reading at least a few chapters There isn t much of a progression, a meandering of thought, so no pressure to complete the book I found it restful as a bedtime read, except for a few sections such as the Guga men.


  7. says:

    My criteria for giving a book five stars is that during the day I think on what I ve read, and look forward to continuing my adventure with the author at the end of day and the writing must be good MacFarlane s writing is lyrical and masculine, too Maps You don t need maps he s not writing a guide book for you, but inviting you to come along with him over old and ancient paths Why would he recommend you walk the treacherous Broomway, where incoming tides over foggy quicksand have drowned hundreds Simply walk beside him as he attempts it My favorite treks with him were through England and Scotland, as he relates history, anecdotes and the natural beauty surrounding him But Palestine and Tibet would have had me at the edge of my seat, if I hadn t been lying back in bed Sail with him along the ancient water roads through the Hebrides Meet his adventuresome friends, including Isle of Harris sculptor, Steve Dilworth, whom I did look up on the Internet so I could admire his work The best writing for me was MacFarlane s description of his ritual walk across the Cairngorm massif in Scotland, south to north, to attend the funeral of his grandfather, a mountaineer I will be reading his earlier book, Mountains of the Mind, in which his grandfather is featured He follows the Icknield Way and other paths of England in the footsteps of Edward Thomas,a writer and poet, who was killed during World War I in France As an American, I was not familiar with Thomas writings, but found MacFarlane s delving into his life and jaunts interesting, and that he was a friend of Robert Frost, who inspired him to become a poet This book is full of little surprises A joyful read.Author The Wolf s Sun A Devil Singins Small


  8. says:

    As a walker I wanted to like this but gave up after the first few chapters I found it over written and full of self importance, with far too many cultural references thrown in to prove how well read he is, no one else could possibly be of an authority and way too many adjectives This probably explains why the book is so long Sorry, but I d rather go for a walk.


  9. says:

    There is no road, the road is made by walking Antonio Machado It s bad luck for Robert Macfarlane that I read his book immediately after The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, which is characterized by its purity and depth Macfarlane regularly refers to Shepherd and he also wrote a nice preface in the reissue of her book But The Old Ways is much superficial and focused on effect instead of content.Macfarlane really raves with the cult of walking that is now thriving in almost all Western countries, and he sometimes turns it into pure bigotry I was particularly bothered by his phobia of Neolithic and Mesolithic paths and remains, which regularly turned into a kind of noble savage mania The author also constantly puts himself in the spotlight as if he were the presenter of a TV documentary permanently visible with all his peddling tics I was bothered by historical inaccuracies, such as the claim that the ancient Romans only had eyes for country roads and neglected the seaways His excursions almost always end with hallucinations as if prolonged walking suddenly gives access to another dimension of reality in which ghosts, panthers and other unlikely phenomena can be observed.But I don t want to complain too much about this book Of course, I share Macfarlane s enthusiasm for tracing and walking old roads, and exploring their historical and spatial context It s quite entertaining to read his different adventures, both in the UK as a in some other parts of the world Throughout the book there are sometimes striking descriptions of the interaction between landscapes and the people who live in them or walk through them, such as this Landscape is still often understood as a noun connoting fixity, scenery, an immobile painterly decorum I prefer to think of the word as a noun containing a hidden verb scapes , it is dynamic and commotion causing, it sculpts and shapes us not only about the courses of our lives, but instant by instant, incident by incident I prefer to take landscape as a collective term for the temperature and the pressure of the air, the fall of light and its rebounds, the textures and surfaces of rock, soil and building, the sounds cricket screech, bird cry, wind through trees , the scents pine resin, hot stone, crushed thyme , and the uncountable other transitory phenomena and atmospheres that together comprise the bristling presence of a particular place at a particular moment Also his references to Edward Thomas and the moving evocation of the last days of that British poet in the trenches in the 1st world war are quite worthwhile.But yes, this book has disappointed me a little Macfarlane wants to tell to many things at once, and he is also very indebted to predecessors which he leaves unquoted For original and in depth reflections on walking, you should go to Rebecca Solnit A History of Walking and Tim Ingold Lines , and of course first and foremost to Nan Shepherd 2.5 stars


  10. says:

    This is a wonderful book Superbly written, reflective, illuminating on connections between people, places, journeys and times A treasure.As Macfarlane himself wrote in the Author s note It tells the story of walking a thousand miles or along the old ways in search of a route to the past, only to find myself delivered again and again to the contemporary p364.It is not just about walking, journeys on foot One surprising journey was sailing, on ancient sea roads which, he writes, are dissolving paths whose passage leaves no trace beyond a wake, a brief turbulence astern they survive as convention, tradition, as a sequence of coordinates, as a series of way marks, as dotted lines on charts and as stories and songs p88..He combines detailed, precise observation with poetic perception, imaginative extension and philosophical reflection For instance Landscape has long offered us keen ways of figuring ourselves to ourselves, strong means of shaping memories and giving form to thought p193 Travellers to the Holy Lands have always moved through a landscape of their imagination p220.Of his multi lingual grandfather he wrote He picked up languages like stones and dropped them like feathers they left him only slowly p 187.He refers to books which he appeared to open, but which actually opened me p242 This book has opened me to new ways of thinking about journeys, and the two way connections between us and the places we inhabit we influence them, they influence us some thoughts and some perceptions are only possible in particular places at particular times.I read this on kindle, have bought several copies since one to keep so I can flick through it and several to give away to people I care about.


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The Old Ways download The Old Ways , read online The Old Ways , kindle ebook The Old Ways , The Old Ways 4e272d61c27a In This Exquisitely Written Book, Robert Macfarlane Sets Off From His Cambridge, England, Home To Follow The Ancient Tracks, Holloways, Drove Roads, And Sea Paths That Crisscross Both The British Landscape And Its Waters And Territories Beyond The Result Is An Immersive, Enthralling Exploration Of The Ghosts And Voices That Haunt Old Paths, Of The Stories Our Tracks Keep And Tell, And Of Pilgrimage And RitualTold In Macfarlane S Distinctive Voice, The Old Ways Folds Together Natural History, Cartography, Geology, Archaeology And Literature His Walks Take Him From The Chalk Downs Of England To The Bird Islands Of The Scottish Northwest, From Palestine To The Sacred Landscapes Of Spain And The Himalayas Along The Way He Crosses Paths With Walkers Of Many Kinds Wanderers, Pilgrims, Guides, And Artists Above All This Is A Book About Walking As A Journey Inward And The Subtle Ways We Are Shaped By The Landscapes Through Which We Move Macfarlane Discovers That Paths Offer Not Just A Means Of Traversing Space, But Of Feeling, Knowing, And Thinking