Writers have always gone on foot. Walking provides material, which has let sundry poets, philosophers and explorers examine a simple activity and turn it into something quite complex. Why do we walk? This is at the heart of Rebecca Solnit’s excellent study, so let her pedestrians tell us.
They appeared in early mythology and religion – Xenophon marched, Christ wandered – but never detailed their experiences. Nor did Petrarch on Mont Ventoux in the 1300s. Then Rousseau came into view, with claims of ‘good health’ and ‘freedom of spirit’ and that timeless treat, ‘the atmosphere of the inn’.