The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Harbour Books (East) Ltd (19 September 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1905128150
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905128174

Synopsis from Amazon
Walking was once the only way to get around but now we justwalk to the bus stop, station or car. Or we walk as a lifestyle choice -trekking holidays, charity walks, urban explorations. 

Geoff Nicholson’s TheLost Art of Walking brings pedestrianism back to the centre of life by musingon his own walks, reflecting on writers, artists, musicians and film makers whotake walking as a subject, and by looking at some of the great walkers in history­ the competitive, the adventurous, the philosophical, the merely eccentric.

The book takes us far furtherthan most would consider walking distance, from the Oxford Street of deQuincey’s London to the mean streets of Los Angeles, from the concrete canyons of New York City to the seven hills ofSheffield, by way of the British seaside and the deserts of America, Egypt andAustralia. Along the way it describes encounters with nude walkers, labyrinthwalkers, psychogeographers, among many others. 

The Lost Art of Walking isdiscursive, imaginative, full of insight and sometimes downright hilarious.


The book starts with, what Ithought, was a very interesting introduction. It hooked me in and made me want to keep reading.

I found myself becoming involvedin the theories of why we walk on two legs and the way we view walking.  I’ve always liked things like this – studiesshow this and that and then someone else has a counter-theory or there are new findings.  I think it would be a good topic todebate!  There’s even a brief dip intothe environment argument and health benefits.

I have to confess that I neverrealised how many words are associated with walking or thought about my ownstyle.  My favourites have to bestrolled; mooched; sauntered; shambled, hiked and marched.  What do the first four say about my style doyou think?

Walking on a recent holiday in Shaldon, Devon

I also have to admit that I’venever noticed all the walking written into novels but on reflection in myrecent meanderings I’ve walked through many fields and alongsideditches/riverbanks – I’ve sauntered along dusty roads in India and along HighStreets.

I am intrigued by the thought ofletting the environment guide you – to let your feet take you where they willwith no destination in mind and by the label psychogeography.  I can understand having different walks tosolve different problems (as Ian Sinclair does) as when my husband and myselfwalk (or should that be stroll) we choose places for how they make us feel.

The walks themselves areconnected with popular people ie Richard Long, Captain Barclay, Guy Debord, toname a few.  The author interspersesthese walks with his own experimental challenges that parallel these and alsowith his own personal anecdotes.  At theend is a mini biography, which Geoff Nicholson also relates to walking. Thereis a bibliography and online resources.

I disagree with how the authorfeels about the label ‘walking in nature’ – not that it is ‘managed’ nature buthow it has the power to affect on a spiritual level.  I believe in the spirit of place having experienced it formyself.  I don’t ‘walk in nature’ toassert morals or a spiritual superiority but for my own personal reasons.  I certainly don’t feel smug orsuperior!  Having said that, GeoffNicholson does go on to note that he ‘lacks the spiritual gene’ …

One thing really did intrigue me,the long pedestrian races that were popular in the 19thcentury.  I can imagine the crowdsgathering for these (and some of them are bizarre to us today) and puntersmaking their bets. 

There is a lot of interestinginformation contained in these pages. It’s written in a humorous style. The writing flows and content keepsyou entertained whether you are a serious walker or if like me, you just wantto expand your horizons.

I am giving The Lost Art ofWalking two different fairy ratings. 

If walking is a hobby or apassion of yours:  

If walking holds interest for youand you want to read more about psychogeography:

The Lost Art of Walking ispublished 19th September 2011.

I would like to thank thepublishers, Harbour Books (East) Ltd, for sending me a copy to review.

I would also like to thank my 15 year old son for walking behind us and taking photographs we had no knowledge of!

You can find out more aboutGeoff Nicholson’s fiction and non-fiction books at his website


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