In his 2012 Laurie Lee lecture, Robert Macfarlane remarks that 'paths are the habits of a landscape', reading them as a profound record of our past in its many dimensions - geological, cultural, economic, spiritual, agricultural, historical, literary, philosophical... Paths are 'acts of consensual making', and as such are endlessly shared and recreated, always old and new. Out of his always fascinating and searching account of the human history of walking and path-following, Macfarlane develops his main theme and focus: on the ways in which some of the literary writers who most inspired him exemplified walking as 'a means of knowing'. So Macfarlane ends the lecture by describing how he set off five years ago on a series of foot-journeys' to criss-cross the old pathways of the British Isles, in emulation of Edward Thomas, Patrick Leigh-Fermor and Laurie Lee.
His writing on these and other writers beautifully evokes how extensively walking was woven into their inspiration, while meditating on how far their writing about walking was itself a pathway to new ways of feeling, thought, memory and knowledge.