Byways, Boots and Blisters: A History of Walkers and Walking by Bill Laws

By Bill Laws

A party of the heritage of strolling for rest and enjoyment.

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Extra info for Byways, Boots and Blisters: A History of Walkers and Walking

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He reached the city at two o’clock on the Wednesday fuelled on a diet of beer, tea and toast. ’ He allowed himself only five hours sleep and ‘those from eleven o’clock at night’. ’ 35 When he reached York his progress was slowed by crowds of punters and well wishers who had gathered to greet him. Powell took himself off to eat, drink and, strangely, to deliver some letters. He then slept for an hour and a half before slipping out of York in disguise to order to give the crowds the slip. ’ Why this particular musical instrument was employed is as much a mystery as to why, twenty years later, he should have attempted to break his own record with such tragic consequences.

Bunyan’s father’s fortunes had slipped and he was now a tinker, a mender of kettles and pots. Bunyan followed the trade until, in 1644, he enlisted with the Parliamentarian forces to fight in the Civil War. After the war, and a narrow escape when a friend took his place and was killed instantly by a musket ball, Bunyan married and found his faith. When a free church was founded at Bedford in 1650 Bunyan moved his family including his beloved, blind daughter Mary to be near the church. For the next thirty-five years he took up his prayer book and walking stick and supported his family as an itinerant, Nonconformist preacher.

Powell, who was born in Horsforth, Yorkshire in 1734, performed his first speed walk, well dressed in a great coat and leather breeches, on a fifty mile ‘ped’ along the road out of Bath. ’ Increasingly those engagements involved walking set distances as fast as he possibly could. While men such as Coryate, Lithgow and Jonson had popularised the long distance walk, Powell was helping to turn walking into one of the sport of kings, quite as popular in its time as its equine equivalent, horse racing.

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