All posts tagged: John Hillaby

Bastard Dogs of Backwoods Japan

There is something about my appearance that brings out the worst even in a normally well-mannered dog. It may have to do with my hunched-up pack or rapid gait. Or the way I swing my arms. Perhaps dogs know intuitively that I dislike the sound of a bark as much as the cry of babies or Siamese cats. Or it could be that I just look and smell a bit trampish. Whatever the reason I view all dogs on the loose as potential assailants… ~ John Hillaby, ‘Journey Through Europe‘ I have been harassed by dogs while walking on four continents.They are easily my least-favourite local fauna. I have nothing against the creatures in theory — the idea of them. I’ve had a few mutts in my life and we got along nicely. But Mr Hillaby might be right about the pack: It sets the buggers off. Many’s the time I’ve been grateful that I usually walk with trekking poles. But even pack-less, they will often take me on, or at least give me a …

A Long and Intimate Walk with John Hillaby

In an earlier post I mentioned my affection for John Hillaby‘s ‘Journey Through Britain‘. As promised, here’s a little more on this wonderful book. The Britain discovered by John Hillaby on his walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the late-’60s may well, for all I know, already have vanished. I haven’t been there, but he seems to predict its fading in the final pages of ‘Journey’, noting that open country is diminishing rapidly but concluding, a tad warily, that many parts of Britain are still inexpressibly beautiful. Inexpressibly? I don’t think so. The traverse of Britain between its southwest and northeastern points has been done innumerable times, on foot, and on wheeled contraptions ranging from bicycle to skateboard to wheelchair. Hillaby’s skill lies in vividly and effortlessly expressing the wisps of natural, social, ancient and modern history that float through his journey, one of the earliest well-documented ones in modern times. So early was it, in fact, that he refers to encounters with blue-jeaned beatniks in the early part of his walk! The book …

The Soul of a Journey: Liberty, Perfect Liberty!

I’m reading, and really enjoying, my first John Hillaby book at the moment, ‘Journey Through Britain‘, “an account,” as the back cover tells us, “of an eleven-hundred mile walk from Lands End to John O’Groats by ‘one of the world’s greatest walkers’.” I’d never heard of Hillaby before I lucked upon this 1979 edition at the Lifeline Bookfest a couple of weeks back. I always have good luck at these events if I trawl persistently enough through the several-tables-long travel section: This time my treasures included a coffee-table book of mountain photos with an intro by the great English climber Chris Bonnington; ‘Turn Right at Land’s End’, another account of a long trek (7,000 miles!) by fellow Englishman John Merrill “around the entire British coastline”; and ‘The Walk West’, the sequel by Peter Jenkins (this time with his wife, Barbara) to his ‘A Walk Across America’, which I scored at an earlier Bookfest and is still waiting in my to-read pile. l have pretty broad tastes when it comes to reading, but my shelf space …