The Lost Paths

The Lost Paths

A History of How We Walk From Here To There

Summary

Discover the rich history of Britain's millennia-old network of pathways, and it will be impossible to take an unremarkable walk again . . .


'A nostalgic amble through the history of travel in England and Wales, and an examination of the routes that make up our modern path network. Jack Cornish interlaces titbits of travel, history, personal reflection and anecdote' The Times


'Cornish’s book delves back in history and is written with a sense of urgency. On each page you discover an enticing new vista' Mail on Sunday


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Hundreds of thousands of miles of paths reach into – and connect – communities across England and Wales. More than just a practical way for us to walk, ride and cycle, they are an inheritance from our past, revealing how our ancestors interacted with and shaped their surroundings. From Iron Age footsteps to Anglo-Saxon mercenary trails, through Railway Age tracks and Home Army defences, our land reveals a hidden history of us.

But thousands of miles are still missing from our maps, and they will be lost forever unless they are urgently reclaimed. Fighting for these paths’ survival through his work with the Ramblers Association, Jack Cornish has spent years walking and recording these forgotten routes – those that have been lost, those that have been saved and those which remain hidden in plain sight.

The Lost Paths is a history of the people who have used, and in some cases created, these walkways:


  • The drovers who herded their sheep and cattle to market
  • The wanderers who travelled between workhouses, seeking shelter and subsistence
  • The miners who ventured deep underground along the Cornish coast
  • The wartime heroes who built up Britain’s defensive infrastructure


This incredible ‘ordinary’ history of the land beneath our feet reminds us just how precious these paths are, and have been, to the human story of this island. This is a celebration of an ancient network and a rallying cry to reclaim what has been lost and preserve it for future generations.

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‘Marvellous. Cornish is the ideal companion on the road: interested in everything, learned, acute, and a splendid story-teller’ Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

'A rallying cry to reclaim lost routes and preserve this precious resource for future generations' Walk Magazine

Reviews

  • A nostalgic amble through the history of travel in England and Wales, and an examination of the routes that make up our modern path network. Jack Cornish interlaces titbits of travel, history, personal reflection and anecdote. His passion for walking, natural beauty and the abundant history of these old ways shines through. Cornish's motivation to protect heritage and relish our spectacular countryside is admirable
    The Times

About the author

Jack Cornish

Jack Cornish is head of paths at the Ramblers Association, Britain’s largest walking charity. In 2017, he walked across the country from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and he has dedicated the last seven years of his life to walking and recording the forgotten routes of England and Wales. He is ten years into an attempt to walk every street in London, where he lives.

Twitter @cornish_jack
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