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Between the Chalk and the Sea

Gail Simmons

'I loved this memoir' - Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path

'A whole new way of looking at a familiar landscape' - Neil Ansell, author of The Last Wilderness

'Simmons observes the natural world with precision and affection' - Times Literary Supplement

An old map. A lost pilgrimage route. A journey in search of our walking heritage.


On an antique map in Oxford's Bodleian Library, a faint red line threading through towns and villages between Southampton and Canterbury suggests a significant, though long-forgotten, road. Renamed the Old Way, medieval pilgrims are thought to have travelled this route to reach the celebrated shrine of Thomas Becket.

Over four seasons, travel writer Gail Simmons walks the Old Way, winding 240 miles between the chalk hills and shifting seascapes of the south coast, to rediscover what a long journey on foot offers us today. What it means to embrace 'slow travel' in the age of the car? Why does being a woman walking alone still feel like a radical act? Can we now reclaim pilgrimage as a secular act?

Blending history, anthropology, etymology and geology, Gail's walk reveals the rich natural and cultural heritage found on our own doorstep.

  • Classification : NATURAL HISTORY, ENVIRONMENT & CONSERVATION
  • Pub Date : APR 25, 2024
  • Imprint : Headline
  • Page Extent : 352
  • Binding : PB
  • ISBN : 9781472280305
  • Price : INR 1,050
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Gail Simmons

Gail is known as a 'walking writer' and is the author of The Country of Larks, which was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2020. She has an MA in Medieval History and a PhD in Creative Writing and teaches at Bath Spa University on their MA in Nature and Travel Writing.

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