A poet, Simon Armitage, decides to take on the Pennine Way in Britain and hike all 260 miles in one stretch. It took him almost three weeks to do so. Unlike Cheryl Strayed in “Wild” he isn’t doing this to escape one life and find a new one waiting for him. He does this to see if he has the ability and if he can do it without a penny to his name. Each night he reads poetry to the locals, passing around a hat (or a sock) and waits to see if there is enough money to carry him until the next night which includes a place to sleep.
When he first set out, he wanted to write a memoir filled with poetry but instead he writes about his experiences on the Pennine Way. How people started to come from different places to hear him read his poetry and the people he meets. At points on the trail he gets lost only to find his way again. At times he feels humbled by the people who have come to hear him read and at times the humility he feels when he asks some students to leave thinking they weren’t actually there to hear him but found out later they were there doing research for exams they were taking.
The reader is treated to many of the pictures Armitage took along the way and the poetry he wrote. This book isn’t for those looking to be changed after reading it. It’s not going to give you the “aha” moment you may have experienced with other books. But not all books are meant to change our lives. Some are there for enjoyment, to learn what one experiences on their journey. “Walking Home” is written with honesty by a man who challenged himself to believe in his abilities as a poet and went out to prove he could survive on his words alone.
Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey, Simon Armitage, Liveright Books, 2013