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      September 2012 > Walking the Hexagon – from Coryat to Cudbird

Walking the Hexagon – from Coryat to Cudbird

Walking holidays in FranceThere are lots of reasons why people enjoy recreational walking – “it’s great fun”, being the most obvious – with lots of directions to head off in on your chosen route, whether that’s following a straight line, a circle or even the sides of a hexagon.

I suppose the idea of walking as a recreational activity is a relatively new phenomenon though now it has reached a stage whereby hundreds of companies around the world are employed in providing holidays for people who want to explore new regions on foot and enjoy new experiences on a very local level.

Who’d have thought it?

Certainly not Thomas Coryat, who, in 1608, decided one day to walk from England to Venice, without the aid of a tour operator, travel tickets, maps – and certainly none of Inntravel’s expertly researched, highly detailed and comprehensive walking notes.

He wrote up his memoirs in a volume snappily entitled "Coryat's Crudities hastily gobled up in five moneth’s travells in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia commonly called the Grisons country, Helvetia alias Switzerland, some parts of high Germany and the Netherlands; newly digested in the hungry aire of Odcombe in the county of Somerset, and now dispersed to the nourishment of the travelling members of this kingdome" (1611) – don’t you just love these titles? – in which he paints a vivid picture of life in the parts of Europe he passed through.

What makes this journey all the more remarkable is that he did it simply for personal enjoyment – no commercial purpose, no ulterior motive – simply to see Europe and to visit Venice.

While employed at the Royal Court by Prince Henry, eldest son of James I, he’d heard much of the wonders and treasures of Venice, and just had to go and see for himself:

The fairest place of all the citie (which is indeed of that admirable and incomparable beauty, that I thinke no place whatsoever may compare with it) is the Piazza, that is, the marketplace of St Marke. Truely such is the stupendious glory of it that at my first entrance thereof it did even amaze or rather ravish my senses.”

Coryat is credited as being the first tourist and the first travel writer of the ‘modern’ era and his exploits (he later walked to India via Greece, the eastern Mediterranean and Persia, published as Coryats Crambe, or his Coleworte twice Sodden, no doubt inspiring all those who subsequently read about them). One was British travel writer and humorist, Tim Moore, who retraced the steps of Coryat’s tour of Europe (albeit in a second-hand Rolls Royce), and recounted his own experiences in Continental Drifter (2000).

Walking holidays in FranceOver a century earlier, author Robert Louis Stevenson had spent many months in France, particularly walking in the Cévennes region (left), publishing Travels with a Donkey in 1879. This, in turn, inspired Francophile Terry Cudbird (below) to undertake a 4000-mile walk through the frontier regions of France – which he completed in early 2009. Following a hexagonal route, he spent three years on this venture, becoming – probably – the first man to do so. 

Terry, too, has put down his thoughts, experiences and encounters in a witty and engaging book entitled, Walking the Hexagon – an escape around France on foot. I’d tell you more about it here but Terry himself is writing a blog or two for us that will be appearing on this website very soon, though you might like to look at Terry’s website, where you can read more of his exploits and order a copy of his excellent book [specially discounted for Inntravellers if you select 'Inntravel' under 'Customer type'].

Watch this space for Terry’s blogs, coming very soon…
Walking holidays in France

Posted: 13/09/2012 10:26:44 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: France, heritage, Italy, media, opinions, walking

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