Walking the Old Ways

Welcome to my blog Walking the Old Ways – a celebration of rambling in the British countryside.

The Old Ways – the ancient tracks and footpaths that criss-cross our landscape, worn there by the passage of walkers and riders over centuries. The old paths used by people to get to their parish church and farm fields. The droving routes taken by animal herdsmen over centuries. The coffin paths along which the dead were taken on their last journeys. The prehistoric routes and Roman roads. The trails that we wander on to this day.

And not just paths – this blog will be a celebration of the wide open spaces where we may roam away from the beaten track. The mountains and moorlands, the fells and fens, where your only companions might be the wild birds and the creatures of the ground.

Back in the 1970s, I wrote a magazine article entitled “Walking the Old Ways”, urging that we preserve our ancient paths and countryside. I first heard the phrase “Old Ways” from an old Gypsy I encountered on an old path. It’s gained some currency in recent years with the publication of Robert MacFarlane’s excellent book The Old Ways.

These old paths are vital, for they are a hugely important part of our history, which should be valued as much as archaeological sites such as Avebury and Stonehenge.

We’ll also be looking at what you might see when you go out for a walk…

I’m John Bainbridge. I’ve walked these paths for nearly sixty years. I’ve written about them in a host of country magazines. I’ve fought to save them as a volunteer for the Ramblers Association and as a former chief executive of the Dartmoor Preservation Association. I campaign for the wild places to this day…

I also believe in and campaign for the Right to Roam.

These days I write books, both volumes about the countryside and novels. I’ve had two successful blogs (archived now if you want to read them) Freedom to Roam and Over the Hills.

You might like to try my walking books: Wayfarer’s Dole, The Compleat Trespasser, Footloose in Devon and Footloose with George Borrow. All except the last available in paperback or as eBooks on Kindle.

Why not come along for the walks?