The Wicklow Way, Co. Wicklow, Ireland: This was a two day trip over a small portion of the Wicklow Way, specifically Oldbridge to Glendalough to Glenmalure. A map of the entire 127km trail can be found here: http://www.wicklowway.com./ This website also offers useful information about accommodation, profiles of the villages along the route, trail services (such as baggage transfers,) and walking tips.
Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Penguin Books, New York, 2012). 433 pp., $18.00 paperback.
This elegantly written book by Robert Macfarlane is about “how people understand themselves using landscape.” Or put another way, how “we are shaped by the landscape through which we move.”
Why walk, indeed? History can be read as a millennia- long struggle to free ourselves from the need to walk. Freedom from walking has always been highly coveted, coming first to the rich and powerful; slaves carried their masters, knights rode horses, the rich owned carriages, and the upper and now middle classes drive cars. Today, only the less fortunate are forced to walk. Most people prefer to sit and ride rather than walk, or so it’s been.
In an attempt to prevent foreclosure on the family farm, Helga Estby and her daughter Clara, ages 36 and 18, walked from Spokane, WA to New York City in 1896. They walked over 3,500 miles in 7 months and 18 days. Taking into account stops “aggregating about two months” to work and to recover from injuries and illness, they may have averaged about 20 miles a day, though they often walked considerably faster. Their satchels weighed about 8 pounds and did not include a tent or blankets, but did include lanterns for night walking. By today’s standards, their thin leather ladies shoes and foul weather clothing were shockingly inadequate.