On Travel

Rory_and_bootsI recently came to the end of five weeks walking in Cumbria and the Borders. It was a thirty nine mile day, and twelve of those fourteen hours were spent in almost empty space. In a car I can be transported at a mile a minute from centre to centre – from one room with people, a timetable and a purpose, to another twenty miles away: from the George in Penrith to Appleby Grammar, from the munitions depot at Longtown to the Local Links centre in Wigton. But walking makes each yard of ground equal, draws you into the space between centres – which is now often unpeopled.

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Humans in the Landscape

Shortly before my father died, he was reading “The Road to Wigan Pier”. He had been struck by Orwell’s description of the industrial scars and the poisonous detritus in Northern England in the 1930s. I had been walking a great deal, and my father wanted to know whether I too had found a landscape “wrecked […]

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Cumbria walks: valley deep, mountain high

First published in The Telegraph on 12th February 2014 From my starting point at Patterdale to the summit of Helvellyn the fog was with me, as it had been for two days. I could just make out three Herdwick sheep on the ridgeline track ahead – one chocolate brown, one dark grey and one silver. […]

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Alone on the Marches

I recently came to the end of five weeks walking in Cumbria and the Borders. It was a thirty nine mile day, and twelve of those fourteen hours were spent in almost empty space. In a car I can be transported at a mile a minute from centre to centre – from one room with […]

hadrian's wall

hadrian’s wall

I wanted to spend some time with my father. He has always enjoyed walking, and talking about the army, Scotland, and Empire. So we decided to walk Hadrian’s Wall, and I expected long discussions about the parallels between the British and Roman colonialism. But I had lost my voice and he is 89: I could […]

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easter ramblings

It is just before six in the morning. I have finally unearthed (at the bottom of a cupboard) my  trousers for the Royal Wedding and I am in my aunt’s kitchen in London preparing for Parliament: the wood-pigeon outside has the gravelly voice of a cockney gangster. Most MPs seem to have spent Easter ‘pounding […]

Discovering_Eden

tourism

Discovering Eden Sir John Mandeville, the great medieval traveller, claimed to have visited almost every place in the world except the Garden of Eden: he describes China; he describes a country of “eternal darkness” which appears to be Afghanistan. “But of Paradise,” he writes, “I cannot speak, for I was not there … which I […]

Vietnam

with my father in vietnam

A week ago, Cumbria; next week, Cumbria again, walking along the Eden River from Mallerstang. But today I am in a provincial Vietnamese town with my 88-year old father. We have just been for a walk at 5.30 in the morning. The mist drifts slowly around the foot-hills and above the narrow fishing boats. Teenagers […]

Border Country

THE DIARY: RORY STEWART

Article first published in The Financial Times on 15 January 2010. For me the new decade began walking through powder snow under a full moon north of Hadrian’s Wall. Every field and footbridge in Cumbria lay under new powder and the moon, cast up by the ice crust, illuminated hills 20 miles away. Four hours […]

walking makes it through when cars fail

    When Monday’s blizzard drove a gritter into a ditch, blocking all vehicle traffic from Penrith to Alston, I was lucky to be on foot, as I managed to do the whole journey from Alston to Castle Carrock. It was extraordinary to come up onto Hartside and see the lights of the police car, […]

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Turn to Tolstoy

First published in The New York Times, March 13, 2007. Politicians have taken to publicizing “reading lists.” President Bush, we were told, last summer was to read a comic historical novel on the first Afghan war and Camus’s “The Stranger.” The Tory members of the British Parliament were issued weighty books on Middle Eastern politics. […]