Travelling on foot is a national obsession that has inspired a whole tradition of great writing, from Laurie Lee to Iain Sinclair
Britain is a nation of walkers. Our landmass may be modest in size but is latticed with a generous 140,000 miles of public footpaths, bridleways and byways, and exploring them is one of our favourite pastimes.
It wasn’t always so. Before the late 18th century most people walked only because they had to, or if they were on pilgrimage. Walking was the preserve of the horseless poor. With the rise of the Romantic movement came the idea of walking for pleasure, prompting such poets as Wordsworth to some of their finest words after traipsing the countryside on foot.