Walking the M62 East to West, Yorkshire to Lancashire
A Bookish Observation
Many computer crashes ago, back in the day when the “blue screen of death” often showed its irritating face, before we upgraded to an Apple iMac, I lost many bits and pieces. Some files were precious, some were important and others were long forgotten. One of the long forgotten items, lost forever, was the first eBook I paid for: Walking the M62 by John Davies.
I thought about the book every now and then but could not remember its title and nor its author’s name. I remembered part of the title, it was “Walking the” something or other by someone or other. I guessed that it may be titled Walking the A4 or similar and possibly the surname of the author was Davidson.
Periodically over the years I searched for the book via Google without any luck, there are so many items that start with or include the words “Walking the …”. Then, just a week ago I was looking for an old password in my archives and tripped over a scrap of paper where I’d written down my user name and password for the website LULU. Magically, there at the bottom of the note paper I had scribbled a note reminding me that I’d purchased “Walking the M62” by John Davies from LULU. Eventually I contacted LULU and they were kind enough to reinstate my very old order and I now have, in my kindle eBook library, safely tucked away, “Walking the M62” by John Davies.
The story is about an pilgrimage. I’m fascinated by the musings of people who go on pilgrimages, long walks and journeys. Maybe the idea of it appeals to my sense of St Augustine’s phrase, “solvitur ambulando”, that is, it is solved by walking.
I’ve read many “walking books”. Possibly my fascination with long walks is anchored in my desire to absorb things the traveller learns and remembers from life’s experience along the way. Hoping, maybe, that some of their wisdom will rub off on me. Hoping that I won’t have to put in the “hard yards”, maybe from my reading nook, I may benefit from their journey some way or another.
In John Davies’ book he muses about his encounters as he walked from Hornsea near Hull on the north-east coast of England to Crosby near Liverpool in the west in the autumn of 2007. He was on an urban pilgrimage. His purpose was to tease out “the hidden depths in everyday life” and find “heaven in the ordinary”.
Reading the book gave me an opportunity to experience parts of Yorkshire from a grass roots level. Northern England, Yorkshire in particular, holds a fascination for me because my Australian family originates from Yorkshire’s city of Hull the geographic focus at the beginning of Mr Davies’ walk.
Walking along with the author, in my imagination, I utilized the magic of Google Earth. When he described standing on a hill overlooking a town or when he walked along a tow path next to a canal or over the bridge across a river, I was able to get a sense of the geographic places he experienced.
The journey left me with an impression of an urban landscape, much of it concreted over and abandoned. There were pockets of joy and pockets of fear but mostly I recognised and enjoyed the walk as a pilgrimage to find the sacred in everyday life. A philosophy that speaks to me.
The book is based on a daily blog where John reflected on his day’s experiences. He also tweeted about moments along the way. After reading the book the first time, prior to losing the eBook file, I felt I had missed something in the detail. After reading it again a second time I still felt I’d missed something. The book is like a summary, I believe underneath the daily diary like entries, lay unrecorded profound thoughts. There could have been much more if the author had had the time. The book is certainly worth the read although it may leave you wishing for just a little bit more.
How lucky are we that John Davies decided to share his journey through his blog, his twitter feed and his book. I enjoyed the walk and getting to know what the author was seeking. I’d just like to sit down over a cosy dinner and a glass of wine and converse for several hours with the author and encourage him to share his unrecorded musings.
This blog was written
by Diane Challenor 2013
and revised March 2014
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About the book: “During the months of September and October 2007 John Davies took a walk across the north of England following the route of the M62 motorway east to west from Hull to his home back in Liverpool. This is an edited version of the daily entries John posted on his walk website, with additional passages and a new 7-page introduction. Also including 12 b&w pictures from the walk, John’s ‘Twitter’ archive and a useful reference list, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking record of a remarkable journey.” Source: LuLu