In 2010 Simon Armitage took a walk down the Pennine Way and wrote a book about it, Walking home. Like his earlier book, All points north (1999), it’s laugh out loud funny in a very British way – self deprecation to the max.
The walk is described as a ‘troubadour journey’ – Simon walked without a penny in his pocket, stopping along the way to give poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms for bed and board. So, yet another walking challenge or project. Entertainingly, at one point he is in danger of bumping into Seamus Heaney, also undertaking a walking project at the same time. And. as I discovered when looking at his website, in 2013 he’s writing the follow-up – Walking away, a journey from Minehead in Somerset along the north coast of the South West Coast Path to Land’s End and beyond…which rather spoils it for me. There are sateliite events, two articles in the Guardian (1 & 2) and everything. It’s not quite Ed and Will’s Walk around Britain.
Saddleworth is a bit schizophrenic, having been part of Yorkshire until 1974. The moors are the lungs of the north. Simon talks about how the logic of a walk keeps you going, you are in competition with it and have to win. It’s mentally hard work, a different sort of challenge from other stresses such as deadlines. Walking pace mimics a heartbeat, and also the iambic pentameter, say some…walking is a process not a product. The Pennines are the spine of England, with a drop on one side to the North Sea and on the other to the Irish Sea, with views on this walk of Jodrell Bank and Beetham Tower at the end of Deansgate, the fourth tallest residential building in Europe. Fab.