By: Blonde One
Wanderers, A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews
Summer time is about many things. It can be about relaxing (especially if, like me, you work in a school), getting outdoors (a definite) while the weather is good, getting jobs done (gardening for instance). But summer time for me is also about having some time to read. I love reading but life often gets in the way and I don’t get stuck into a good book as frequently as I would like. Every summer I work my way through a pile of books that have built up since last summer. The pile is a mix of teenage fiction (great for a quick read and getting straight into the action), serious classics, books for teaching at school and beach books (easily pick up and put down-able).
This summer I’ve discovered a book that needs to be recommended to the walking community: whether old or young, male or female. Wanderers by Kerri Andrews tells the tales of 10 women who have had a full and active walking career (if you can call it a career). The women range from Elizabeth Carter who walked in the 1700s to Cheryl Strayed who published her own memoir, Wild, of her walk along the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012.
The book goes right back to the time when women were not supposed to ‘walk’ as a hobby. It was considered “ungraceful”, “unfeminine” and “unsexual” according to De Quincey, the famous male author. Women, in the early days, were putting themselves at risk of all sorts of abuse, physical and verbal, when out walking alone. They also were at risk of losing their reputations since it was not considered the ‘done thing’ for women to walk for pleasure. Thank goodness for us, that they persisted and paved the way for us all to continue enjoying walking without fear of losing our reputations!
Dorothy Wordsworth sums it up beautifully: “One must have free time, a place to go, and a body unhindered by illness or social restraints.”