“Walking” Reading List


Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway 

“Clarissa Dalloway sets out to buy flowers for a party she’s having in the evening and wanders around London — Westminster, St James Park, Piccadilly, Bond Street . She takes the opportunity of the walk to think about her current life and the missed opportunities of her past.” 

J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings 

Epic walk of 1779 miles from the Shire to Mordor. 

Stephen King: The Long Walk

Dystopian novel about a gruelling walking contest 

James Joyce: Ulysses

“The novel follows Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus as they spend a day wandering around Dublin, pursuing their separate, then crossed, destinies.” 


Ian Hamilton and Diane Roberts: Walking the Literary Landscape: 20 Classic Walks for Book-lovers in Northern England 

Raynor Winn: The Salt Path

“Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey. The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.” 

Raynor Winn: The Wild Silence (sequel to “The Salt Path”) 

“After walking 630 miles homeless along The Salt Path, the windswept and wild English coastline now feels like their home. And despite Moth’s terminal diagnosis, against all medical odds, he seems revitalized in nature – outside, they discover that anything is possible. Now, life beyond The Salt Path awaits. A chance to breathe life back into a beautiful but neglected farmhouse nestled deep in the Cornish hills; rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their new path. Along the way, Raynor and Moth learn more about the land that envelopes them, find friends both new and old, and, of course, embark on another windswept walking adventure when the opportunity arises.

 Robert Macfarlane: The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

“Following the tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast ancient network of routes criss-crossing the British Isles and beyond, Robert Macfarlane discovers a lost world – a landscape of the feet and the mind, of pilgrimage and ritual, of stories and ghosts; above all of the places and journeys which inspire and inhabit our imaginations.”

Simon Armitage: Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey

“Unlike Robert Macfarlane, whose “The Old Ways” seems almost the straight act to Walking Home’s comic routine, Armitage is far from being one of the “knotty, knobbly, knuckled, pain-retardant” crowd; a middle-aged Everyman (albeit a Yorkshireman) of average fitness, poor map-reading ability, a lower back problem and small lungs, he is psychologically hobbled by his mum having walked the entire route at the age of 50 (he uses her rucksack and “teat-operated” water-bottle) and his dad telling him he doesn’t need a coat. What he doesn’t take with him is money: celebrity as a poet means that volunteers have organised poetry readings and a bed each night, thanks to a notice on his website.”

Rebecca Solnit: Wanderlust

“What does it mean to be out walking in the world, whether in a landscape or a metropolis, on a pilgrimage or a protest march? In this first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit profiles some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction, finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture. Solnit argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in our ever more car-dependent and accelerated world.”

Bruce Chatwin: The Songlines

“We commonly assume that living in a house is normal and that the wandering life is aberrant. But for more than twenty years Chatwin has mulled over the possibility that the reverse might be the case. Pre-colonial Australia was the last landmass on earth peopled not by herdsmen, farmers, or city dwellers, but by hunter-gatherers. Their labyrinths of invisible pathways across the continent are known to us as Songlines or Dreaming Tracks, but to the Aboriginals as the tracks of their ancestors—the Way of the Law. Along these “roads” they travel in order to perform all those activities that are distinctively human—song, dance, marriage, exchange of ideas, and arrangements of territorial boundaries by agreement rather than force. The life of the Aboriginals stands in vivid contrast, of course, to the prevailing cultures of our time. And ‘The Songlines’ presents unforgettable details about the kinds of disputes we know all too well from less traumatic confrontations: over sacred lands invaded by railroads, mines, and construction sites, over the laws and rights of a poor people versus a wealthy invasive one. To Chatwin these are but recent, local examples of an eternal basic distinction between settlers and wanderers.”

Bill Bryson: A Walk in the Woods

“The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America—majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way—and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).”

Alistair Moffat: To the Island of Tides

“In ‘To the Island of Tides’, Alistair Moffat travels to – and through the history of – the fated island of Lindisfarne. Walking from his home in the Borders, through the historical landscape of Scotland and northern England, he takes us on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of saints and scholars, before arriving for a secular retreat on the Holy Isle. Lindisfarne, famous for its monastery, has long been a place of sanctuary. It is an island rich in history: The Romans knew it as Insula Medicata; it reached the height of its fame in the dark ages, even survived Viking raids, before ultimately being abandoned after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Today, the isle maintains its position as a space for retreat and spiritual renewal. To the Island of Tides is a meditation on the power of place, but also a more personal journey – a chance for a personal stocktaking and a reflection on where life leads us.”

Charlie Connelly: And Did Those Feet

By the author of ‘Attention All Shipping: A Journey around the Shipping Forecast’.

“As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connelly decided to set out on a series of walks that recreate famous historical journeys. En route he retells the story of the original trip while discovering who and what now inhabit these iconic routes. Walking in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Charlie journeys alongside Boudicca’s ghost in Norfolk, relives Bonnie Prince Charlie’s flight to Skye disguised as Flora MacDonald’s maid and takes the same 32-mile round trip as the starving Louisburgh famine walkers and he encounters a surprisingly high number of mad old women in woolly hats. Told with Charlie’s customary charm and wit, ‘And Did Those Feet’ will reveal the historical secrets hidden in the much-loved coastal, country and urban landscapes of Britain.” 

Michael Tlanusta Garrett: Walking on the Wind: Cherokee Teachings for Harmony and Balance

Children’s books: 

L. Frank Baum: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 

Following the iconic yellow brick road. 

Leonore Klein: Henri’s Walk to Paris 

“Henri’s Walk to Paris is the story of a young boy who lives in Reboul, France, who dreams of going to Paris. One day, after reading a book about Paris, he decides to pack a lunch and head for the city.” 


William Wordsworth: Sweet Was the Walk 

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.

(quote by Rumi, Persian poet) 

Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer’s long poem follows the journey of a group of pilgrims, 31 including Chaucer himself, from the Tabard Inn in Southwark to St Thomas à Becket’s shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. The host at the inn suggests each pilgrim tell two tales on the way out and two on the way home to help while away their time on the road. The best storyteller is to be rewarded with a free supper on their return. This literary device gives Chaucer the opportunity to paint a series of vivid word portraits of a cross-section of his society, from a knight and prioress, to a carpenter and cook; a much-married wife of Bath, to a bawdy miller – an occupation regarded in Chaucer’s day as shifty and dishonest. Chaucer mixes satire and realism in lively characterisations of his pilgrims. The tone of their tales ranges from pious to comic, with humour veering between erudite wit and good honest vulgarity. Taken together, the tales offer a fascinating insight into English life during the late 14th century. 


Henry David Thoreau: Walking 

You can listen to a free audio recording at this link (1 hour 30 min long):


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