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Walking the Woods and the Water: In Patrick Leigh Fermor's footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  284 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In December 1933, an eighteen-year-old Patrick Leigh Fermor set out in a pair of hobnailed boots to chance and charm his way across Europe, 'like a tramp, a pilgrim or a wandering scholar,' on foot from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. The books he later wrote about this walk, A Time of Gifts (1977), Between the Woods and the Water (1986) and the posthumous The Broke ...more
Paperback, 329 pages
Published March 20th 2014 by Nicholas Brealey
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4.07  · 
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 ·  284 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
My good friend Gordon Wilson gifted me this very good book. His timing was impeccable as I had an enforced and long flight between Brisbane and the UK and this made the hours fly and the mind wander. My heartfelt thanks to Gordon.
Anyone who has read Patrick Leigh Fermors trilogy, see the link above, should enjoy this book on the condition they do not expect the author Nick Hunt to write as Fermor. Hunt has completed a journey and then written what can be
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Eight decades ago Patrick Leigh Fermor set out to walk across Europe from the Hook of Holland to the exotic and mysterious Constantinople. He was aiming to chance and charm his way across the lands, hoping to be the recipient of much human kindness. This great walk also gave us three great books, A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water and The Broken Road. Not only are these beautifully written books, but they show Europe and its people shortly before war would sweep across the land. He ...more
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley

I thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Leigh Fermor's original books relating to his walk from Holland to Istanbul 80 years ago. It is never easy to recreate something that happened some time ago and was well received in the main. Initially the book did not really grab me and the walk through Holland I found less than interesting. Approaching Bavaria Nick Hunt decides to use a bicycle for a while partly because his physical fitness to walk was not good. In practice the section relating to Bavaria actually
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
thoroughly enjoyed this. In the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor, not steps that can easily be filled, but in some ways he didn't try. And of course Europe is a very different place from 70 years ago. I particularly enjoyed, if that is not a paradox, his descriptions of his own physical distress. He was clearer than Fermor was about the mental as well as physical challenge such a pilgrimage is. Although like Fermor he seems to have been a little surprised about his own ease with his own company ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-general
Great book for the armchair traveller, and I really admire Hunt and the hundreds of miles he walked from Rotterdam to Istanbul.
Although he was walking in Fermor's footsteps, this was very much Hunt's walk and experiences, and he never let Fermor get too much in the way.
The three maps in the book weren't very good which is a shame as it was nice to follow his route. And apart from the 3 poor maps there were no photographs or illustrations which I think was a pity.
Nick Hunt does credit to the memory of Patrick Leigh Fermor, in what I hope is to be his first of many travel books. Following in Paddy's path from the Hook of Holland, across Europe to Istanbul following the Danube river much of the way, Hunt has vividly captured the current culture of Europe as PLF did the dying of the old feudal regime in the years leading up to WWII and Communism. What I appreciated so much about "Walking" is that Nick Hunt wrote his own book from his own experiences, refere ...more
Gordon Wilson
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly enjoyable read, a condensed modern version of the PLF three books.
Recommend to anyone who has enjoyed the original books that spurred Nick Hunt to emulate the original author and retrace his steps eight decades later.
Thomas Lord
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a lovely book this was and a beautiful tribute to the original journeys.
It will now sit proudly next to Patrick Leigh Fermour's trilogy on my bookshelf
. Highly recommended.
Nicholas Whyte
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it

If a thing is worth doing, it's probably worth doing again, and Nick Hunt replicated Patrick Leigh Fermor's 1933-34 walk, as far as possible, in 2011. The world has changed, and the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey have all changed too since 1934. The journey changes the writer as well; the pace of walking is of course far different to the more usual speed of travel today, and enables him to engage with the locals in
T. Fowler
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a fascinating walking/travel/tour of Europe book. I am surprised that Nick Hunt made a decision to follow the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor from the Netherlands to Constantinople but, even more, astounded that he accomplished it. People talk of walking the Camino de Santiago. That's 500 miles in 30 or 40 days; but Nick did around 2,500 in 221 days - with no preparation, with little equipment (he only got a tent in Hungary)! But with lots of friends, or friends of friends, ...more
Jun 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Had a lot of potential but just never lived up to it. Quite well written but became quite tedious- much like walking across the Great Hungarian plain. Author couchsurfs everywhere and gets to meet people everyday who explain the history of the place or a local story and then gets drunk/ stoned with them. All well and good but it gets repetitive. We learn nothing about the author apart from an early mention that he is relative of mountaineer John Hunt. For me there seems to be a lack of drama or ...more
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
To purchase this book is obviously to have read P. L. Fermor's masterpieces and to be motivated by (an unhealthy?) curiosity of how it compares.
Well, it doesn't. WWW is an entirely new book about a walking adventure in an entirely different world, a bit like visiting the ruins of Pompei, except that the Vesuvius has been replaced by the incredibly evil effects of Communism (for the second half of the walk) and the milder effects of liberal/laisser-faire/automobile culture (in the first half).
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, travel
Nick Hunt follows in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor's famous hike across Europe in the 1930s. This is one of the finest travel books I've read, PLF would have loved it. Highly recommended.
Ricardo Medici
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Hunt's book is what a travel book should never be: wishy-washy. Hunt doesn't quite capture the sense of adventure, so it's no roller coaster for the armchair traveler, nor achieves an informative tone despite containing historical notes here and there. 50% of the book consists of landscape descriptions, which I believe can become a bit redundant and pointless.

I've gone through all the book (skimming through the aforementioned descriptions) because his prose is more than correct and reads very w
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I rank Patrick Leigh Fermor's trilogy about his 1933 journey from the North Sea coast to the Golden Horn as some of my favourite books of all time, so I was delighted to discover this twenty-first century retracing of that epic journey by Nick Hunt. PLF made his journey as much of Europe was poised on the tipping point between the long nineteenth century and the cataclysm of totalitarianism and the Second World War. Throughout the trilogy there's a sense of the old order facing an uncertain and ...more
Erin Britton
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Walking the Woods and the Water is Nick Hunt’s charming, evocative homage to the life and travels of Patrick Leigh Fermor. In 1933, when he was just eighteen years old, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on an epic walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople and then many years later he wrote a trilogy of books that chronicled the real and imagined adventures that he experienced on his great trek. When Nick Hunt was eighteen years old, he read Fermor’s A Time of Gifts and dreamed of embarking on h ...more
Chris Wares
This book describes Nick Hunt's journey following in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor seventy years earlier and described in his trilogy.

After some deliberation, I decided to read this book BEFORE reading the trilogy, prolonging the moment when I finally read the books which I have been orbiting for over a year now and bringing myself a litter closer to the event.

There was a doubt in the back of my mind that perhaps this was a derivative work, merely piggy-backing on a greater work and pos
Claudia Tessier
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book records the experiences and thoughts of the author’s 7-month, 2500-mile trek in 2011 from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn of Turkey. He hikes (mostly) the same route that Paddy Fermor took and recorded in the 1930. It is a engaging record of his encounters with people, geographies, cultures, societies, architecture, languages, history, as well as his thoughts, his joys, his pains, his insights, etc. While the tale in its own right would be amazing, his writing makes it even more ...more
I enjoyed this even though it started to get a little bit samey in places. Hunt achieves a good balance between his own experiences and the legacy of Fermor -- wisely not competing with the latter! Interesting how nowadays couch-surfing and similar internet features can provide bed, board, and local friends nearly everywhere now; it was impressive how many total strangers happily accepted Hunt into their homes and social lives. If you liked Nicholas Crane,s account of his walk across Europe, you ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
An engaging and reflective account of a walk across Europe following in the footsteps of Paddy Leigh Fermor. Nick’s observations on the places and people he encountered are informative and thoughtful. He identifies changes since Paddy’s journey in 1934 and it’s reassuring to see that he encountered kindness and generosity in every country and that the worst he experienced was indifference or, on occasion, mild suspicion. I’m looking forward to reading his account of walking Europe’s winds in Whe ...more
Stephen Landstreet
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Especially interesting to anyone who's read Patrick Leigh Fermor's great A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. If you haven't read them, they're wonderfully written and observed books, and Fermor was quite a character in his own right. This is an interesting read, comparing Fermor's trip from Holland to Istanbul by foot, with roughly the same route nearly 80 years later.
Robyn Harrison
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
The introduction about why Hunt walked from Rotterdam to Istanbul turned out to be the most interesting part of the book. It's a day-by-day chronology of his walk--interesting if it were places you yourself had been or planned to go.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and full of traveller's insights. Greetings for the Author! :)
Ben Twoonezero
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A good book but not a page turner, at times the journey feels more like a slog that a adventure. You have got to admire his perseverance thought.
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am so jealous of this young man and his walk from The Netherlands to Istanbul on many levels. Jealous of his youth, his health, his ability to live salary-free for almost a year, his navigational abilities without gps and detailed maps, and lastly his ability as a man to blend in to social settings that would never be possible as a woman. He is a gifted writer as well.

"The ludicrousness of the walking pace could be deeply frustrating. The trick, as I would come to discover was to ignore the d
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Firstly, I assume that no one would be reading this book if they hadn't already read (and loved) Paddy Fermor's walking trilogy. If anyone is considering reading this book without first reading Paddy's books - DON'T! It's not just that the practical details and locational references relate closely to the earlier books (they were, after all, the point of this trip), but also the comparisons (and here i include also the style of writing) are lifeless without first having enjoyed Paddy's extravagan ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Books that explore ordinary places on foot can be a joy, and this is certainly true of Nick Hunt's quest to retrace the steps of Patrick Leigh Fermor. I so enjoyed this book that I'm tempted to compare it with those of his predecessor on the journey 70 years earlier. Hunt has some lovely descriptions, as of course did Paddy in his three books. Here's one from towards the end: ' and there the green skin of the mountains had been tugged away, as if by giant fingers, and jumbled rock burst o ...more
Rachel Bhattacharyya
Walking the Woods and the Water is a magical book that is a perfect combination of personal adventure plus sociological and historical investigation. In beautifully constructed prose, Nick Hunt shares his two hundred and twenty-one day walk across eight countries from Holland to Turkey--a trek that followed the same route as Patrick (Paddy) Leigh Fermor’s similar walk eighty years earlier. Each country, discovery, experience and encounter is exquisitely detailed so that the reader becomes a deli ...more
Kerry Hennigan
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has read the celebrated traveller’s tales of Patrick Leigh Fermor will likely enjoy this modern re-tracing of his famous footsteps. Nick Hunt, guided only by Paddy’s long-obsolete itinerary, walks from the Hook of Holland all the way to Istanbul’s Golden Horn, encountering remnants from Paddy’s own experiences, and the world of post WWII and Cold War Europe, both East and West.

Hunt’s observations include current political tides and popular movements. He witnesses and reflects on the O
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ah, to take a year off and walk the highways and byways of Europe, from the Hook of Holland to the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul! And with the ghost of that Renaissance Man and war hero Paddy Leigh-Fermor for company, to boot.

Nick Hunt cannot, of course, match the superb and evocative verbosity of Leigh-Fermor's iconic trilogy. That original trek across the continent in 1933, just as the old ways were about to be swept away by the Nazi blitzkrieg and the post-war madness of the Soviet bloc,
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Nick Hunt has walked and written across much of Europe. His first book 'Walking the Woods and the Water' (Nicholas Brealey, 2014) was a finalist for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year. He also works as a contributor and editor for the Dark Mountain Project.
“Paddy was just one of many wanderers on strange, lonely quests, striking out on mysterious missions, most of whom had left no traces.” 0 likes
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