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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot | [Robert Macfarlane]

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

In The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads, and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes crisscrossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, and of song lines and their singers. Above all this is a book about people and place.
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Publisher's Summary

The unabridged, digital audiobook edition of Robert MacFarlane's The Old Ways, a major new book from one of Britain's finest nature writers about landscape and the human heart. Read by Roy McMillan.

In The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads, and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes crisscrossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, and of song lines and their singers. Above all this is a book about people and place: about walking as a reconnoiter inwards, and the subtle ways in which we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move.

Told in Macfarlane's distinctive and celebrated voice, the book folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology, and literature. His tracks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird-islands of the Scottish northwest, and from the disputed territories of Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he walks stride for stride with a 5000-year-old man near Liverpool, follows the 'deadliest path in Britain', sails an open boat out into the Atlantic at night and crosses paths with walkers of many kinds - wanderers, wayfarers, pilgrims, guides, shamans, poets, trespassers, and devouts.

He discovers that paths offer not just means of traversing space, but also of feeling, knowing, and thinking. The old ways lead us unexpectedly to the new, and the voyage out is always a voyage inwards.

©2012 Robert Macfarlane (P)2012 Penguin Books Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (54 )
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Story
4.2 (41 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elizabeth 01/05/2014
    Elizabeth 01/05/2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
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    23
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    "A little tiresome at times"

    I had really high hopes for this listen, I am sorry to say I found it disappointing. The general concept is an exciting one, many British walks to explore and narrate an audible commentary on. Alas this book is more like a thesaurus at some points. I actually felt it to be pretentious. Some of the sentences are so long and the author has an irritating over use of adjectives. Also, it jumps around onto different topics which make it tricky to follow. He starts rambling about stuff which is nothing to do with what he started off describing. The narrator does a sterling job trying to make the 'strings' of words sound comprehensible. Another positive is that you get plenty of hours listening for your 1credit. I would say it's one of those Marmite books, love it or hate it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Stockton on Tees, United Kingdom 04/04/2013
    Amazon Customer Stockton on Tees, United Kingdom 04/04/2013 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    4
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    "Not easy but worth the effort."

    It took me a little while to get used to the 'voice' of this book. Very descriptive, reflective, introspective, I'm not sure how best to describe it. It conjured some rich word pictures but at times it seemed to require too much concentration and I'm sure I missed some of the detail. I don't want to be over negative; It did keep my interest and I really enjoyed the journey.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M BEDFORD, United Kingdom 23/02/2013
    M BEDFORD, United Kingdom 23/02/2013 Member Since 2012
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    "Thoughtful and insightful"

    Could have done without the literature review at the beginning (first hour or so) but once this is dispensed with the author explores the concept of "old ways" in a fascinating and literary manner. Part adventure, part travelogue, part natural science. Hard to define, very enjoyable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MR G WHALLEY 12/10/2014
    MR G WHALLEY 12/10/2014 Member Since 2014
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    "Most enjoyable"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Initially I found it a little hard to get into but once over the first 20 minutes or so, I couldn't stop listening. In fact, I found it mesmerising and fascinating at the same time. Would thoroughly recommend this book.


    What other book might you compare The Old Ways to, and why?

    I understand Robert Macfarlane has published a couple of other books; I wish these were available as audiobooks also.


    What about Roy McMillan’s performance did you like?

    The narration perfectly complements the book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listen to audiobooks whilst driving and found this perfectly acceptable to listen to in "chunks".


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roderic Victoria Park, Australia 24/01/2014
    Roderic Victoria Park, Australia 24/01/2014 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely Brilliant. A book to be revisited"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Old Ways to be better than the print version?

    The audiobook was excellent. I have bought the print version - the first time I have done this after listening to an audiobook - because of the wealth of references and my need to revisit parts of this book.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maj 22/07/2015
    Maj 22/07/2015 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Evocative and inspirational"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes
    Takes one out of the humdrum of daily life into a world that is on our doorstep


    What did you like best about this story?

    Very evocative in its description of the routes and the writers personal experience and emotion whilst on them.


    What about Roy McMillan’s performance did you like?

    Caught the mood perfectly in his narration, measured but not tedious


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Really enjoyed the routes and moments described for Scotalnd, the waterways round Skye and the Cairngorms


    Any additional comments?

    A great read and/listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nick day 11/07/2015
    nick day 11/07/2015 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic book"

    I really loved this book, and have spent ages looking up the other books mentioned and also looking through maps seeing what I can find close by!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Shepherd 04/06/2015
    Sue Shepherd 04/06/2015 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I want to walk all of these paths!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Old Ways the most enjoyable?

    It takes you on a journey through all sorts of amazing places, some of which are only round the corner!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Old Ways?

    The Blue Men of the Minch and the Broom Way!


    What about Roy McMillan’s performance did you like?

    Roy will always be Robert Mcfarlane now. His voice is so into the story!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    If I had the time to sit there I would listen to it in one go but its also good when split into sections.


    Any additional comments?

    I intend to walk after reading this book. It is a great inspiration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve_Morris 17/04/2015
    Steve_Morris 17/04/2015 Member Since 2010

    StevePMorris

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    "A great listen"

    I really enjoyed listening to this. It is beautifully written with language that is rich yet understandable. The evocation of place is very vivid. The characters met and described are colourful and fascinating. I intend to listen again, which I rarely do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 23/09/2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very poor"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I haven't a clue. Anyone looking for a book about the old paths should stay away from this book in my opinion.


    What could Robert Macfarlane have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Write more about "the old ways" and less about the books he has read. Also avoid all the name dropping he seems to enjoy using. It seems he is trying to prove how many books and poems he has read.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Roy McMillan’s performances?

    No. I felt he reads too fast (I know I can slow it down if needed but should not have to).


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Old Ways?

    All of them. All chapters of the book are the same.


    Any additional comments?

    This book does not live up to its' write up. I have read many books about old paths such as drove roads, green lanes etc. and this is not one of them. Maybe it should have a different title.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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