Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #40: The Wild Rover by Mike Parker

Number of pages: 323

Off all the things you least want to come face-to-face with on an early morning dog walk, your own hypocrisy comes quite high on the list.

This opening line is just one example of how Mike Parker's writing style made the otherwise potentially dull subject matter, involving the history of, and bureacracy related to, public footpaths, and access to the countryside made me want to keep reading more.

Earlier this year, I'd read his book, Map Addict so choosing to read this one too was an easy choice, and I could tell from this book that Mike Parker puts a lot of weight on the importance of the public being able to roam freely across the country, and is very scathing about landowners who object to having public rights of way through their property. Curiously, he also seems to be less than complimentary about the Ramblers' Association.

This book showed me that there are a lot of politics involved in the process of creating public footpaths (a lot more than I would have expected) and the book provides a comprehensive history of how this came about, including a mass trespass at Kinderscout Peak that occurred as an act of protest in the 1930s.

A large amount of this book was about Mike Parker's own experiences rambling in the British countryside, and this showed an occasionally self-deprecating, and humourous, writing style that put me in mind of Bill Bryson. I noticed that he mentioned the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, which resulted in the closure of all countryside footpaths for most of the year, citing it as a warning that we should take advantage of our right to roam while we can.

Next book: One Forever (Rory Shiner)
Tags: book review, british, essays, human spirit, humor, non-fiction

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