“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose”. – Charles Dickens
There are people who like to go for a walk and then there are…walkers. Famously, John Muir, Henry Thoreau, Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among many others, were known for their love of long-distance walking. Add to that list Robert and Martha Manning, who have written Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People.
This book highlights 30 hikes on every continent which can be taken by “ordinary people”. They range from the 11 mile Cinque Terre trail in Italy, to the Camino de Santiago at 480 miles (which does not sound ordinary to me). Most qualify as only low to moderately challenging and the average length is more like 100 miles. The many color pictures attest to the fact that they are all beautiful, taking the intrepid walker through some of the most lovely terrain imaginable.
The Mannings tell you everything you need to know about each walk, including over-night accommodation possibilities along the way, where to hang out when you are not walking, what to bring, what the food is like, where the pubs are, a little bit of the history of the trail and, briefly, some of their own experiences on each trail, for they have walked them all. Partly a how-to guide but, more importantly, a why-to guide, they place long walks in the “must do” and "can do" categories of lifetime adventures.
So, where to begin? I have no immediate plans to take a long, long walk in Europe, but one can dream. That is what this book is really good for: inspiring the latent long-distance walker to imagine the possibilities. In the meantime, there are lovely walks all over Ann Arbor and we have books to guide you in that adventure, much closer to home.