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Journey Through Britain

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  22 reviews
An account of an eleven hundred mile walk from Land's End to John O'Groats by one of the world's greatest walkers.
Unknown Binding, 238 pages
Published January 1st 1970 by Paladin Press (first published July 1968)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  114 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My absolute all-time favourite book. An account of a walk along the length of the mainland, told without pretension and with much warmth and humour. Hillaby's walk books are all superb but for me this stands out as the best; find yourself a copy and then lose yourself amongst Hillaby's tales of long trudges, cold nights and warm folk.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the classic volume on the art of walking (well, not really the art: Hillaby thought it was a natural function). For those who cannot remember the last time they walked to a corner store, the prospect of actually walking the length of Britain (not one of the world's longer islands!) may be somewhat daunting. So sit back and let Hillaby tell you what you are missing.

I suppose if there is one thing to lament about North America, it's the culture of the automobile with its concomitant health
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british-isles, travel
A first class walk through Britain from Cornwall to Caithness, through wild and tame, friendly and unfriendly, by a good man and a reliable guide. Worth reading for the story, the adventure, the achievement, the revelations, the fact that is preserves the rural side of 1968 Britain in well-chosen words and a whole host of other reasons.

Read it. It's good.
Rebecca Wilson
I decided to read this book because Rebecca Solnit mentions it in Wanderlust. It has turned out to be an excellent book for 2020, gentle and mildly humorous, glancingly educational but not at all self-serious: a man goes on a long walk (this was before through-hiking was a thing). It took me about as long to read this as it took Hillaby to walk the length of Britain because it is the best bedtime book, a perfect cure for quarantine insomnia.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Nicholas Crane
Here is a traveller, a walker, who can really write. Hillaby revels in the pleasure (fear at times) of journeying at a pace which enables him to observe the landscapes and communities which he travels through. Unmatched by car, bus, train, (or, nowadays, battery powered mobility scooter), walking (or cycling) requires the expenditure of human effort; both in the planning and in event. Walking has always enabled the explorer to reach landscapes and places both rare and ordinary, inaccessible to t ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
For me, a book of two halves. Until Yorkshire, I felt the book somewhat flat, dry, quite negative (probably partly due to the inevitable bad weather), and hard to get through. It didn't make me want to visit anywhere he'd been. From Yorkshire north, though, there seemed to me to be more interesting parts; it felt more upbeat in places, and I actually noted some things down for future travel myself. This second half pushed my rating up to three stars.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Five stars may be a little generous but as this book is from the late 1960's and still reads well and was gripping, at times funny and always interesting maybe not.

Great book.
R. G. Nairam
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uk
I wish I was smart enough or chill enough to have enjoyed this, but...not really.

I think the main thing is that I'm a pretty visual person and reading descriptions of landscapes is just not going to work very well for me. Especially as I don't know the names of a lot of flowers and underbrush. Sometimes I got a bit of an idea. Some anecdotes were enjoyable and some of the history interesting. It was pretty well-written and quite possibly very informative for someone hoping to walk in Britain (at
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book and achievement. Although he did this journey more than 40 years ago it reads as fresh as if he did it yesterday. I think he must have been quite a character. His descriptions of landscape, geology, botany and history are excellent. Thanks to John Law for recommending this
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
great descriptive tour through England on foot.
Patricia Bracewell
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Published in 1968, this book documents Hillaby's walk from Land's End in Cornwall to John O'Groats in Scotland. He was 50 years old when he did it, and it took him 55 days. He avoided roads like the plague, sticking as much as he could to footpaths, drove roads and ancient byways. That in itself made the book worth reading, and I'm glad that I did.

He is a good writer, but I wished for more drama as I was reading. I think he experienced drama, for sure, but he did not convey the emotional turmoil
Norman Hartley
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A travel book I read and re-read. I bought my first serious pair of walking shoes after reading it when it was first published. It opened my eyes to just how much you can see and appreciate on a simple walk. There is no need to be a thirty mile a day athlete to enjoy it. Hillaby shows how you can get pleasure from a simple ramble as well as a long distance hike. Beautifully written, it blends natural observation, history, folklore, personal anecdote and illuminating portraits of ordinary people.
Anthony Peter
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I've recently decided that travel and biography are the books that I prefer as bedtime reading. This was one of them, John Hillaby's narrative of his walk from Land's End to John O'Groats in 1967(?).

I found it a bit dispiriting as he encounters so much rain and takes routes which lead him through pathless or badly signposted ways, and he frequently experiences low spirits. (He's also wearing footwear that seems ridiculously inappropriate.) The only occasion I remember when he gets seriously chee
Martin Allen
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Could almost say definitive account of a walking travelogue, this is John Hillaby’s walk from Lands End to John O’Groats in the late 1960s. Not pretentious with the oft-overused swirl of descriptors and, for me, the anathema of spirituality you get in some modern travelogue writing; it’s largely perfunctory, describing what happens each day and, what he sees, experiences and who he meets as he makes his way through 15 chapters, but adding just enough colour here and there along the journey to br ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book as much as most of the other reviewers, but I found the author elusive. Considering the amount of time he spent walking alone, he doesn't share as much about himself as I'd expect. He also spent a fair amount of time at pubs to refuel when he could, where he must have talked to people, yet most of them remain hidden or briefly noted. Other reviewers have commented that he doesn't go into detail about how difficult this walk must have been. He mentions broken toenails, ...more
P.J. Sullivan
John Hillaby walked from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland, averaging twenty miles per day. This book tells of his encounters with people along the way, with policemen and hostile dogs, with flora and fauna, with good and bad weather. It is about blisters and lost toenails. It is about suspicious locals and “heart-warming hospitality.” It is about deserted villages and getting lost in the “sterilized grandeur” of “the dead vast.” Rich with social commentary, subtle humor, and interest ...more
Grim-Anal King
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hillaby's planning seems shambolic compared with contemporary long distance walkers but of course at this point it has all been done before: we can read numerous books of this ilk and learn from the authors' mistakes. This does serve as an interesting guide to Britain in the sixties, presumably more accurate than the usual swinging Londoncentric cliche. It's a good tale although one wonders how much exaggeration is employed. Did he really storm along at 4mph with tent and all?
Jill Hill
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is my favourite book. It is the book I read in times of trouble, when I need inspiring, when I want to rediscover joy. It's a deceptively simple narrative about a long distance walk from Land's End to John o Groats. John Hillaby was a naturalist, a wonderfully knowledgeable observer with a wry sense of humour and an enthusiasm for life. And he writes well.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, hiking
John Hillaby is one of my favourite travel writers, his prose is excellent and descriptions lean and entertaining. This book is an account of his walk from Land's End to John O'Groats in the early 70s.

As a writer I really can't recommend him highly enough.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wonderfully descriptive tale of a walk across the UK.
Helen Cooley
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gentle read about a man walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the 1960s.
Victoria Morris
rated it really liked it
Aug 09, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Jun 05, 2012
james spiers
rated it really liked it
Mar 01, 2017
rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2015
Charlie Storrie
rated it really liked it
Jan 09, 2016
Mark Karl
rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2018
Chris Sawle
rated it it was ok
Nov 04, 2012
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3 followers written by Douglas Matthews:

Pedestrian was the last word to apply to John Hillaby, though he has been called the most celebrated pedestrian in England. Yet like his contemporaries, Clive Wainwright and Wilfred Thesiger, he was admired as much by armchair idlers as by the serious walking fraternity. Whether pacing rapidly through the streets of London or acr

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