This post was originally published by Davina Jelley on the Number 7 Dulverton blog.
On Friday I led a walking book club special as part of the North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival which is now in it’s fourteenth year. Walkers were asked to read The Old Ways – A Journey On foot by Robert Macfarlane, which seemed a very apt choice for a walking festival, particularly as the route I had chosen would include two beautiful holloway tracks.
The weather was perfect for walking, bright, a slight breeze, not too warm and dry and so I guided the group to Dulverton’s alternative venue, our favourite book club spot, the den that is situated on the site of an old hill fort in Burridge woods.
There were plenty of fallen logs for us all to find a spot to sit amidst the emerging bluebells. The book met with a mixed response, some found it far too in depth and intellectual, others thoroughly enjoyed his style of writing and sense of place. Personally I loved it. I tend to steer away from non fiction, so was a little tentative about starting this book. What if here was the first book club choice that I would be not be able to finish. My fears were immediately alleviated as I was lost in his magical description of a nighttime walk in hushed snow and keen to read on.
Discussion over it was time to continue on a walk and chat in smaller groups about the book, had it inspired our walkers to walk on their own, plan longer walks, walk in different countries or perhaps write about their own journeys on foot.
Not all the group were keen to tackle the steep climb that leads to Court Down, so we said our farewells at Marsh Bridge and they walked along Northmoor Road with the River Barle to accompany them back into town – leaving the keener walkers to continue on the advertised route.
Reading The Old Ways has sparked an inclination to read other non fiction nature writings. Although why I was perturbed I don’t know, as I loved Roger Deakin’s Waterlog, sometimes it’s good to be gently reminded and nudged back into forgotten territory, surely that is the beauty of a book club. On my list are a couple of proofs that look interesting including Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel and just published Dip by Andrew Fusek Peters.
Thank you to all who joined us on The Old Ways walk, our regular book club members and those who were discovering the woods around Dulverton for the first time.
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If you’d like to find out more about Number 7 Dulverton and join their Walking Book Club, then please pop over to their website. The next walk will take place on 31 May 2014.