Some of us find it remarkably difficult simply to go for a walk. We need an excuse, a project, a literary precedent. We don’t want our wanderings, or our accounts of them, to be simply strolls in the park. And so, in these two books by Iain Sinclair and Simon Armitage, both great walkers, and writers of prose and poetry, the authors set about making life hard for themselves as they walk.
Sinclair, a Welsh-born, Dublin-educated Londoner, undertakes a one-day, 35-mile walk around the territory now served by London’s ‘Ginger Line’ – a circuit of overground railway that casts a loop of economic revival and (that dirtiest of words) gentrification around the capital. He walks with the filmmaker Andrew Kötting, a thoroughly Sinclairian character: ‘the darkness inside [him] is a form of tremendous energy; stray humans encountered on our walk are buffeted, pitched against fences, left breathless in his wake.’
Meanwhile Simon Armitage – Yorkshireman, geographer, former probation officer – walks along a section of the South West Coast Path through Somerset, Devon and