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Crossing into Otherness: of maps and paths

Crossing the Pennines in Simon Armitage’s Walking Home (2012)

La traversée de Pennines dans Walking Home (2012) de Simon Armitage
Claire Hélie


Dans Walking Home (2012), le poète Simon Armitage raconte sa randonnée sur le Pennine Way, sa traversée des Pennines. Le livre n’est pas un récit de voyage de plus sur une plongée dans le cœur du pays, mais des mémoires qui vont à l’encontre des attentes du lecteur : le narrateur n’est pas à la hauteur de grands marcheurs tels Alfred Wainwright et William Wordsworth ; son voyage à travers l’épine dorsale de l’Angleterre ne se termine pas sur une prise de position en faveur des gens qui y habitent ; son récit mélange des éléments prosaïques et poétiques et pourtant joue sur ce qui paraît convenu.

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1Simon Armitage does not write many essays on poetry, theatre or fiction, genres he excels at, and remains rather elusive when asked about his writing process in interviews. He obviously deems the theory of writing, reading, living less important than their constant practice. Therefore his ars poetica is to be found embedded in his memoirs: for instance, All Points North (1999) recalls the different steps of his transition from Northern lad to full-blown poet while Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock-Star Fantasist (2008) dwells on the interactions between the rock star in him and the poet out there. So when, in 2010, he decided to walk the 268 miles of the Pennine Way, Britain’s first national trail in the Pennines, in less than three weeks, the image of the poet-cum-walker was sure to be put to the test. And indeed, in his preamble to Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way, the memoir which was published two years after the trek, the poet clearly states that his intentions were to have not just a physical but also a writerly experience:

In the summer of 2010 I decided to walk the Pennine Way. I wanted to write a book about the North, one that could observe and describe the land and its people, and one that could encompass elements of memoir as well as saying something about my life as a poet. I identified the Pennine Way as the perfect platform: a kind of gantry running down the backbone of the country offering countless possibilities for perspectives and encounters, with every leg of the journey a new territory and a new chapter. (Armitage 2012, 4)

  • 1 In All Points North, he writes, ‘I live on the border, between two states’ (Armitage 1999, 1–2).

2From the onset, walking across the Pennine, the physical journey, is presented as an experiment rooted in a particular landscape, that of Armitage’s native North, and in a particular identity, that of being a poet, both to be confronted with the chance-encounters along the way. The parallelism between ‘a new territory and a new chapter’ is a reminder that the author, who studied Geography as a student, is deeply interested in how to write (graphein) the earth (geo) and its different regions, and more particularly in border regions, borders he can cross at will1. Hence the fact that he situates Writing Home at the crossroads between different cultures—high and popular—but also between different genres—indeed, it is a travelogue, a literary guidebook and a memoir, amongst other things.

3The website put up by Natural England, which is responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has one interesting piece of information on crossing the Pennines in literature:

Perceptions of the North Pennines landscape expressed in narrative writings, literature or works of art are not common and the area has been described as falling within an ‘aesthetic shadow’. This is a product of the area’s remoteness and the industrialisation of parts of the dales during the heyday of travel writing and landscape painting.2

4The phrase ‘aesthetic shadow’, which does not seem to be attested, is used to express the feeling of a representational void that harks back to the late 18th–century, with both the Industrial Revolution that scarred this part of England, and the Small Tour that ran by, not through, the Pennines. Yet, this assertion proves false because of the impressive amount of books published on the subject since the 1930s: Wainwright’s A Pennine Journey: The Story of a Long Walk in 1938, Stephenson’s The Pennine Way (1969) and Damian Hall’s National Trail Guide Pennine Way (2012) are just three cases in point. So much so that the Pennine Way can no longer be described as a road not taken but has to be seen as a well-trodden path on the ground and in art. For instance, in 2006, Tamara Ashley and Simone Kenyon, two performer artists who undertook the long-walking project entitled ‘The Pennine Way, the legs that made us’, developed a light-footed narrative for which they approached the Pennine Way through dance, creating a sort of choreographic pathway.

5Therefore, the preamble tries to justify the novelty of the poetic/ hiking trip Armitage had embarked on:

I decided to approach it in two unconventional ways. Firstly, I decided to walk from north to south. […] As a poet, I’m naturally contrary. […] So against all prevailing advice, against the prevailing weather and against much of the prevailing signage, I undertook to walk the Pennine Way in the ‘wrong’ direction. […] Second, and even more optimistically, I announced publicly that I would attempt the walk as a kind of modern-day troubadour, giving poetry readings at every stop, bartering and trading my way through the country, offering only poetry as payment. (Armitage 2012, 4–5)

  • 3 Most guidebooks, such as The Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm by Martin Collins (1998), clear (...)

6His project is not based on inhabiting like a poet but on walking back3 like a troubadour. The narrative of his crossing the Pennines includes a description of his hiking trip in the North, a commentary on the state of that part of England (and possibly beyond) and a poetic manifesto on the literature that implies walking. Therefore it can be read as a postmodern debunking of the myth of the heroic rambler, a nostalgic and impossible gesture towards home and the homely, and a reflexion on the place, or sense, of writing and writing poetry.

7While the Pennine Way was in the making, so was the literature on the trail. From the early 1930s to the late 1960s, many ramblers who made the walk across the Pennines recounted their experience of the trail and passed on advice to prospective walkers. In this emerging tradition, two writers are landmarks—first Alfred Wainwright, a walker and guidebook author, who wrote A Pennine Journey: The Story of a Long Walk in 1938, his tale of how he found solace from the atmosphere of impending war in crossing the mountains; and then, Tom Stephenson, who wrote The Pennine Way, which is the first long distance footpath guide published by the Countryside Commission in 1969.

8Wainwright actively contributed to creating a whole mythology for the Pennine Way, so much so that most contemporary walkers-cum-authors follow in his footsteps in more than just one way. Since the trail is often described as difficult because of the distance to walk and the inclement weather to fear, but not because of any technical challenge to take up, it is a myth of connecting with the natural world, even if that world seems unaccommodating; it is a myth of spiritual regeneration through physical exertion, exhaustion even. For Wainwright does insist on the physical pain due to long hours of tramping in bogs in fairly bad weather, in so far as this physical pain leads to a psychological gain at the end of the journey. For instance, this is how he ends his book:

I walked along the busy streets to the station, aware of many curious glances, for my clothes were unkempt and dirty, and my shoes, with heels gone and soles barely holding on, were so fast falling to pieces that I had to slide my feet as I walked lest they fall completely asunder. I was a spectre from a midden, but I marched in triumph… Respectability is often regarded as a matter of starch; hill-wandering takes all the starch out of a man, first out of his clothes, then out of his soul. And note, this cleansing process does not leave him limp, but gives him strength and a new vision. (Wainwright 213)

9Walking, a most Wordsworthian activity, ends up in a sort of Blakeian cleansed perception, which makes Wainwright’s experience a neo-romantic one. Armitage mentions this trend which suggests that he wants to distance himself from it: ‘[In spite of their chauvinism], the books are without doubt works of art, and part of that eccentric English tradition in which the oddball amateur working at the personal, local level comes to be regarded eventually as an unparalleled genius with almost universal appeal. In that sense, Wainwright is the William Blake of walking.’ (Armitage 2012, 193)

10Indeed, since the 1980s, the tales of endurance and revelation through hardships have given way to an abundance of counter narratives, narratives that follow the trail in a slanted way. For instance, Barry Pilton’s One Man and his Bog: The Reluctant Rambler’s Guide to Walking the Pennine Way (1986), is a hilarious parody of the kind of heroism extolled by Wainwright. In his ‘Forewalk’ the writer admits, tongue in cheek:

I do not have the best walking credentials—I usually walk by car—so I approached the three week trek with a commendable degree of caution; indeed, I filled my borrowed rucksack with so many contingency planning items that I was unable to lift it. Maps, bandages, whistle; fluorescent red anorak so the rescue helicopter could spot me easily; and enough Kendal mint-cake to make a profitable living as one of their salesmen. I was also weighed down with advice, of which the best, in retrospect, was not to go at all. (Pilton 9)

11The book is complete with a glossary of ‘Difficult Technical Terms’ that includes, for example, ‘Compass—an instrument to establish you are lost’ or ‘rain—good Pennine Way weather’. (Pilton 131–132)

12Not only is Armitage aware of the difficulty of the walk—he writes: ‘if much of the literature is to be believed, the Pennine Way is more of an endurance test or an assault course than a walk, and not something for a feeble-minded, faint-hearted tenderfoot’ (Armitage 2012, 4)—he is also perfectly knowledgeable about the writing tradition the walk has given birth to: ‘Before I made this trip I read most of the available Pennine Way literature’ (Armitage 2012, 66). Therefore while setting on the trail remains challenging physically, as he constantly reminds the reader, it has also become a literary exercise than cannot be approached without a certain degree of postmodern irony. For instance, if the transformative power of walking across to the other side of the Pennine is expressed in terms of gain and loss, the count is not metaphorical but as material as can be since Armitage mentions the exact amount of money he earned through his readings and the exact amount of weight he lost through his walking.

13Besides, his travelogue is framed in the traditional paratext: it includes a map, the dates, places and geographical grid which, unlike in Stephenson’s, are not so much ‘effets de réel’ as pastiches. Indeed the chapters give almost no information about the specificity of each leg; worse, each leg seems pretty much like the next one because of the weather, which is regularly bleak, to say the least. The whole landscape seems to be made of different variations and combinations of rain, gale and mist which prevent the walker from seeing anything specific around: ‘The mist also exhibits properties of false hope, most notably a mirage effect, where sunlight seems always on the point of breaking through and where brightness and clarity seem always within reach, just beyond the next veil of fog […] It’s a cruel trick.’ (Armitage 2012, 188–189) Furthermore, the difficulties the poet has to overcome are also ridiculed. For instance, he is not just walking, he is trudging across the Pennines: phrases like ‘grim yomp’, ‘plod, plod, plod’ or ‘futile schlep’ (Armitage 2012, 2, 176, 188) give the impression of a laborious walk and the atmosphere is unrelieved by toponyms like Dark Peak or Bleaklow. Contrary to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), these place names do not suggest that the quest is a pilgrimage, it is at best a ‘literary pilgrimage’ (Armitage 2012, 201), one in which every signpost points towards a place but mostly towards a literary work.

14Therefore humour is used to puncture the romantic illusions and the physical pretensions of the journey. For instance, after spending the night in the Once Brewed Youth Hostel, in a room that looks like a prison cell, Armitage writes: ‘I can’t face the communal showers so I splash about in a bit of water in the sink and don’t shave, even though I’m absolutely determined not to go home with a beard. In the drying room, the forces of dehydration and the forces of saturation are doing battle by virtue of their smells, and seem to have arrived at a stalemate’ (Armitage 2012, 75). Hardly could the final pun qualify for some poetic revelation that would redeem the prosaic context. His narrative seeks the grotesque in every nook and corner.

15In spite of that, or because of that, he is still the romantic ‘I’ who makes their way through landscape while being physically, and maybe also spiritually, touched by it. Only he does it with a tinge of humour based on deflating pretensions at a grand style, on flattening style and on building expectations that will not be met in the end. Indeed, to distinguish himself from previous travellers, he insists on his shortcomings by creating a comic persona through a rhetoric of belittlement. For instance, he keeps on moaning about his limitations: ‘I can’t help feeling that I haven’t quite lived up to expectations’ (Armitage 2012, 227). He also compares himself with other walkers who have been successful: he is afraid he can’t measure up to his mother and his wife, first and foremost, which means that the walk is also a test of virility; he definitely can’t live up to romantic (Wordsworth) and epic (Ulysses) heroes either, maybe because the age of heroism has long vanished. One good example is when he compares himself with Gawain:

In the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the hero of the story manages to clothe, equip and armour himself in not more than three verses, and he’s setting off on an epic journey across the unmapped regions of Dark Ages Britain to do battle with a foe of supernatural colour and superhuman strength. It takes me the best part of an hour to slap on emollients, tighten straps and replenish supplies, and I’m only walking to Greenhead, less than seven miles to the West. (Armitage 2012, 76)

16Set against the purple patch that describes Gawain, the passage about the poet’s experience is a clear let-down. It is part of a whole rhetoric of belittlement based on comparisons that always work against him, that always point at his shortcomings.

17Like many other modern-day explorers, Simon Armitage is a rambling one, so the quest he undertakes seems ironic or even bathetic. Yet, since he is ultimately in control of the embarrassment he accepts to share, the invitation to laugh at him, which could be called ‘inverted snobbery’, gives him some authority over the text and over the Pennine Way. He is a fallible walker and he knows it but it does not matter because it is all just ‘a game’ (Armitage 2012, 67, 129, 169, 277–280…), that is to say a leisure activity and not a life changing experience. Using humour to make it new is already an old trick, as epitomized by Laurence Sterne’s contribution to the genre of travel writing in A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr Yorick (1768); therefore, flattening the account of his walk across the Pennines is Armitage’s way of doing things.

18Crossing the Pennines is tantamount to diving into the heart of the country, its landscape and its history. Before the 18th–century, walking was associated with poverty and vagrancy, but a new interest in landscape painting and travel narrative provided the activity with an aesthetic purpose. This trend was epitomized by Wordsworth, whose walking feats and their influence on his poetry are analysed in Florence Gaillet-de Chezelles’s Wordsworth et la marche. In the 19th–century, it became a form of popular recreation providing workers with a bit of exercise and fresh air, a well-deserved release from the pollution and stress induced by life in industrial cities, especially in the north. While delineating the history of the Path, Armitage reminds the reader that it was ‘born out of the “right to roam”.’ (Armitage 2012, 3) Indeed, with the advent of the Enclosure Movement, the activity became tinged with political activism: since private owners seized whole tracts of land and closed them off, they prevented ramblers from using many footpaths and bridleways; in the name of property rights, they deprived them of their ‘right to roam’, that is to say, according to the ramblers’ website, of their ‘freedom to walk on open countryside away from paths and the ability to enjoy the natural environment responsibly and unhindered’4. Hence a campaign that culminated in 1932 with the landmark mass trespass on Kinder Scout, a dozen square miles of moorland strictly preserved for grouse shooting. Although the trespass was controversial, walkers from all over Great Britain joined forces and created what would soon be known as the National Council of Ramblers. In 1935, journalist and rambler Tom Stephenson wrote a column in the Daily Herald to advocate the opening of a trail that would be the British version of the American Appalachian Trail. His persistence and constant lobbying at the Parliament proved successful since the final leg of the trail was opened thirty years later, in 1965. Therefore the myth of the Pennine Way is also one of opening new paths, of challenging figures of authority, of standing by the poor against the rich.

19There again, Armitage takes up the myth only to debunk it. For instance, he points at this most important dimension of the Pennine Way in English history just to pit it against a deeper characteristic of his own Englishness: ‘I’m a great believer in the right to roam, but not enough of an activist to insist on hiking past a homeowner’s shower curtain or gatecrash some other confidential act of sanitation’ (Armitage 2012, 62). In other words, the facetious understatement shows that he is shy of defending collective rights if it interferes with his sense of privacy. If Armitage does have a good laugh at himself, he also mocks pretty much everybody he meets on the way, no matter where they come from or where they are going, up to the point that they sometimes seem to be characters from a book rather than real-life people.

20Therefore he does not stand by the poor against the rich, by the locals against the foreigners, by the walkers against the standers-by. Indeed, another incidence of the mist and rain is that they leave almost no space for a panoramic view of the land, this imperialistic mode of looking at the country. On the contrary, Armitage chooses to cast a gaze that might not be called anti-imperialistic, but at least counter-hegemonic: the land is impenetrable and its inhabitants untameable, but what matters is that what he sees and those he meets embody types that go against any jingoistic clichés. The England he presents us with cannot be circumscribed in monolithic terms. His is a book on the North, the real North, the North where people can have a ‘German accent infused with Yorkshire vowels’ and where you can meet a ‘Huddersfield-born Buddhist going by the name Subhadassi’ (Armitage 2012, 229, 244). The North is hyphenated, a melting-pot where everybody is free to be as weird as they want. What could be said is that Armitage’s humour, just like the weather, is a great leveller.

21Besides, for all its history and local people, the Pennine Way has a few non-places along the way that are marked with the ‘spatial overabundance’, ‘individualization of references’ and ‘overabundance of events’ that Marc Augé mentioned in his study of supermodernity in Non-Lieux (1992). For instance, he meets quite a lot of people on his way, too many to his taste even: for instance, he refuses to walk through Housesteads which he calls ‘a tourist attraction therefore inappropriate to my higher status’ and regrets that the Brontë country has been turned into ‘a theme park’ because he feels he is on ‘a tourist trail’. Not only are there too many walkers, but contrary to Wainwright who could escape from the world going crazy around him, Armitage can never reach that level of solitude. Indeed, on several occasions, he reminds the reader that while he is walking the walk, the world doesn’t go that round around him, which is epitomised by Raoul Moat’s looming presence: the 2010 Northumbria police manhunt was taking place a few miles away from the Pennine Way. Yet, Armitage does not so much criticize Moat for his murders and madness as he lampoons the media for overcovering the manhunt and turning the criminal into a brutish arch-villain while silencing the plight of the victims, a recurrent theme of his.

22Walking Home might be said to belong to the genre of ‘stunt memoir’ or ‘shtick lit’, ‘that is to say, books perpetrated by people who undertook an unusual project with the express purpose of writing about it’ (Yagoda 193). Ben Yagoda, who gave the definition of the word coined by Sarah Goldstein in Memoir: A History, then credits Henry David Thoreau with initiating the genre by documenting his experience of living in a cabin for more than two years in Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854). Just like his predecessor’s, Armitage’s experience also partly consists in eschewing materialism and mass consumerism: the description of his gear makes the walker feel pangs of guilt for carrying so many of what could be called comfort objects; walking and reading his way through the Pennines is also a way to go against current trends of living. Of course today, walking, strolling, hiking, rambling all seem synonymous with escaping a world that is going mad. Yet, just like in his collection Book of Matches, the narrator seems to have ‘no cause, no cause’ (Armitage 1993, 29). And indeed it is very hard to know where he stands across the political spectrum.

23Walking Home started as a research book on walking in literature but soon the experience turned out to be more about walking than about literature, hence the feeling of disappointment that a first quick read of the book can elicit: where is the poetry of the walk? A sheer quantitative analysis of the structure of the book sustains this idea of a text that keeps poetry to the bare minimum, as if, because books cannot fit in a rucksack, neither can poetry: the book is 285 pages long (almost one for every mile?) and is divided into chapters, each of which corresponds to a section of the journey complete with length to walks, directions and lengths. It has only five poems that were written along the way and that range from ten lines to two pages. This is hardly more than the total number of paragraphs that list the places to go, the things the poet is or is not afraid of, and most importantly his spendings and earnings (the night’s takings being collected in a walking sock). Not only does Armitage list those things, but he also itemizes them with indentation, as if he wanted to blur the distinction between poetry and prose which he had nevertheless clearly distinguished in his preamble in the only case of clear metatextuality in his memoir: ‘[Poetry] often refuses to reach the right-hand margin or even the bottom of the page. Prose fills a space, like a liquid poured in from the top, but poetry occupies it, arrays itself in formation, sets up camp and refuses to budge’ (Armitage 2012, 5). Form and content keep on crisscrossing poetic and prosaic elements. So the readers, just like Armitage on many occasions during his walk, might feel they have misread the signals given at the beginning and subsequently fear they are lost in the text. Incidentally, the word ‘lost’ crops up a good thirty times in the course of the narrative as when the poet walks from Uswayford to Byrness: ‘True, I’m only lost in the sense that I have gone wrong, and I could easily walk back the way I came. But then what? Even from Clennell Street it’s another seven or eight miles to Alwinton, with all the ignominy and indignity of having failed at the first hurdle.’(Armitage 2012, 37) Since there will be no walking back, there will be no reading back either, and the readers will keep on reassessing their expectations while reading forward.

24If Armitage fails at following the path and crossing the Pennine Way from one end to the other, he succeeds in taking paths slightly off the road that take him away from the customs and traditions of the land. For instance, since he is out in the open air, in the midst of what would be varied scenery notwithstanding the rain, the poet fiddles with the landscape writing tradition. Yet the hints to the sublime, the pastoral or the picturesque are only there to be debunked. For instance, only the last word appears in the text, and no more than three times. If the walker who shares his experience is a rambling one, the poet in him is indeed naturally contrary: in other words, he crosses the reader’s expectations.

25One way for the poet to do encompass key literary places while pretending they are not key to his writing at all is to mention these literary places he walks by while divesting them from their poetic significance to dwell on practical information such as accommodation and venue. For instance he does mention Mytholmroyd where Hughes was born and the Arvon Foundation Center, but nowhere does he say anything about the seminal importance the place had on his poetics (and which he acknowledges in other places). Instead of diving into the poetic history of the land, he seems to skim its surface, even if writing in the epic and landscape writing tradition was his original idea:

I started researching a book about the journeys in poetry—the Odyssey, Gawain and the Green Knight, John Clare's trip—and wrote a proposal for a book about them, and the idea was that the Pennine Way was going to be part of it. Then I decided that that might be the most interesting bit of the journey in its own right ... I'm not walking 268 miles for one chapter!5

26The memoir is all about performance, about the reading performances the poet gives every night to earn his lodgings but also about performing the role of poet-cum-walker.

27And indeed he cannot help thinking as a poet, no matter how much he speaks of blisters. In other words, and to take up Deleuze and Guattari’s terminology, Armitage takes a ‘line of deterritorialization’ (Deleuze 10), that is to say a line of flight that makes experimentation departing from stabilized order possible, which has always been part of the project:

I imagined when I was younger that I’d spend my days and earn my living outside, and when I swapped social work for poetry, part of the idea was to get out of the office and into the wider world again, to rejoin the adventure. But the sediment has built up. The stodginess of routine has set in. So even if I’m writing about the Sahara or the Antarctic I’m usually doing it in a chair, in a room, behind double glazing. The Pennine Way is about getting OUT THERE again. It’s about taking the air and clearing my head. (Armitage 2012, 17)

28Yet, by drawing a map that has little difference with maps found in travelogues that take the conventional direction, by sequencing his text according to the leg walked during the day, that line of flight immediately ossifies into a ‘line of sedimentarity’ (Deleuze 216), which means that we are back to molar lines which draw territories with clearly delineated borders, lines that help the walker control his journey. What is more interesting is that the poet chooses some molecular lines which cause hardly noticeable ‘microcracks’ (Deleuze 219), in other words, he takes a deviation from the main route without totally destabilising the line, for instance when he goes off to Grasmere.

29Besides, maps, poems and pictures break the linearity of the text and make the reader ponder over the relation with the text and its paratext, most specifically the relation between prose and poetry or between text and image. It should be noted here that the many pictures, mostly snapshots, create some kind of cross reference with the text, meaning that the reader will see unflattering snapshots of the poet looking exhausted after a day outdoor, black-and-white pictures of a desolate landscape that are far reminiscences of Fay Godwin’s work on Ted Hughes’s Calder Valley, or else what I take to be hints at other northern poets like the one with the reference to the bull, which reminded me of a picture of Basil Bunting by a sign ‘beware bull’ years after he wrote Briggflatts.

30What I would contend is that Walking Home is not so pedestrian as it first seems. Besides, it is one part of a diptych, the prose part. The other part of the diptych is a collection he published in 2013, entitled Stanza Stones, which is the result of a commission. He wrote six poems that were carved in huge stones along the Pennine Way by engraver Pip Hall, big enough for all walkers to see. The controversy the project stirred raises serious questions about the place of art on the land, which is no longer a question of seeing landscape as art as in land art or in artistic landscape but something in the vein of what Antony Gormley does, be it with Another Place or The Angel of the North. When Armitage had set on his journey across the Pennines, he said that if he made extra money, he would give it back to the land. Obviously, even though it doesn’t always show in Walking Home, he also gathered enough poetry along the way to give some back to the land.

31Crossing the Pennines for Armitage means embarking on a personal journey with a ready-made narrative attached to it. The reader does get the feeling that the rambler is rambling on, that he needs to spin a yarn to go the whole nine yards. But his process can hardly be called pedestrian and we shouldn’t be lured by the surface of his narrative and the flatness of his tone.

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Armitage, Simon, Book of Matches, London: Penguin, 1993.

———, All Points North, London: Penguin, 1999.

———, Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way, London: Faber & Faber, 2012.

Ashley, Tamara and Simone Kenyon, ‘The Pennine Way: the Legs that Made us (a Return Journey)’, Visual Studies 25.1 (2010): 83–84.

Auge, Marc, Non-Lieux: Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité, Paris: Seuil, 1992.

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaux: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980), trans. Brian Massumi, London: Continuum International, 2004.

Gaillet-de Chezelles, Florence, Wordsworth et la marche: parcours poétique et esthétique, Grenoble: ELLUG, 2007.

Wainwright, Alfred, A Pennine Journey: The Story of a Long Walk in 1938, London: Frances Lincoln, 2004.

Yagoda, Ben, Memoir: A History, Riverhead: New York, 2009.

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1 In All Points North, he writes, ‘I live on the border, between two states’ (Armitage 1999, 1–2).

2, last accessed on January 19, 2015.

3 Most guidebooks, such as The Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm by Martin Collins (1998), clearly indicate the ‘right’ direction.

4, last accessed on January 19, 2015.

5, last accessed on January 19, 2015.

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Claire Hélie, « Crossing the Pennines in Simon Armitage’s Walking Home (2012) »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 48 | 2015, mis en ligne le 24 mars 2015, consulté le 21 février 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Claire Hélie

Claire Hélie is a lecturer in English at Lille 3 University. She has written a thesis on contemporary poetry from the North of England and has published several articles on Basil Bunting, Ted Hughes, Tony Harrison and Simon Armitage.

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