The Gentle Art of Tramping

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I gave it a good try but it just was too boring for me. Really nothing worth writing about. I had to eventually abandon the book.
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What an unexpected surprise this fascinating and subversive little gem of a book turned out to be. Originally published in 1926 it manages to convey to the current reader elements of immediacy and the past. Stephen Graham was a journalist, travel-writer, essayist and novelist who traveled extensively around pre-revolutionary Russia. From his work there is an empathy and sympathy for the poor and an unease at the increased level of  industrialisation that he encountered. 

I must admit that I had not come across the author before and I misjudged the title acquainting the word tramping with vagrancy and expecting a work similar to George Orwell's "A day in the life of a tramp". Rather the word hiking or in current parlance wild camping would be nearer to modern understanding.

This is both a practical guide (what to wear and take etc) and a philosophical tract on how to be at one with the natural world. With literary and nature references this will I think appeal to readers who like such writers as Robert Macfarlane and  Patrick Leigh Fermor. 

It can also be viewed as a historic document with references to Graham now being unable now to venture into Bolshevik Russia, the chance to tramp in the "new Ireland" and the advice he gives that when encountering and trying to win over farmers it is advisable to make disparaging remarks about Ramsay MacDonald and the Labour Party (I'm sure this can be successfully updated for the modern day). At the end of the book there is a wonderful sequence when he uses his zig zag method of tramping to explore London.

This is a wonderful book for lovers of the outdoors which I thoroughly recommend.
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Sometimes it’s hard to know what to make of a book. And reading Stephen Graham’s The Gentle Art of Tramping, in which he advises the would-be “tramp” (or long-distance walker, as we’d now describe it) on how to go about their business certainly gave me pause for thought. 

Don’t get me wrong. On balance I think I liked it. But the truth is that some book are timeless and some books can become dated, and this is definitely one of the latter. So how do you judge it? As a historical piece, a window into a mindset of the time between the wars? (It was first published in, I think, 1926.) Or with a modern eye, a social conscience that can’t help twitching at some of the post-Imperial, overly-class conscious observations?

Graham makes a clear distinction between types of tramp — there are those like him, middle-class and seeking to escape the rat race, and there are the good-for-nothing hobos who can’t be trusted. (When the former helps himself to an apple from your orchard, by the way, it’s scrounging; when the latter does it it’s theft.) This is the problem I had — that a number of his attitudes and observation made me cringe, as if I’m listening to that old uncle complaining about the old days and how much better they were. 

On reflection, though, I’ll judge it for its original intention. It captures a desire for freedom and communing with nature. It’s shaded with the echoes of the First World War, its end less than a decade old, and the restlessness of the new world comes through. It’s very readable and Graham’s whimsical humour appeals as he offers advice on what to take, where to walk and how to avoid getting into trouble in the less salubrious parts of the world. 

As a book it describes a wider restlessness, a frustration in which one was “identified by one’s salary or by one’s golf handicap”. For all its occasional crassness (to modern readers at least) I enjoyed it. 



Thanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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This is a re-issuing of an older book about tramping, wandering the world with just the essentials, good intentions and a kind word for passers by. It's a really nice book about walking, interacting with nature, appreciating the moment and enjoying the world, which makes it a really pleasant overall read.
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Though first written and published in 1926, The Gentle Art of Tramping is as relevant today as it was then.  Even the advice on purchasing equipment and supplies is useful, and though there are loads of stuff out there for the backpacker, it is very easy to be hoodwinked into getting things you don't need or certainly don't want to carry, or getting equipment that will not stand up to the use it is intended for.  My husband and I did a lot of backpacking in the 1970's and car-type camping with our children when they were young.  Now that the nest is empty again we like to get just far enough off the camping area to avoid hearing people or music from the car campers.  This book brought back to both of us how much we love the gentle art of tramping.  Thank you, Budge Press for bringing back this treasure.  For those experienced campers, this is a review.  For those who have yet to experience camping of any measure, it is a fine introduction.  

I received a free electronic copy of this self-help book from Netgalley, Stephen Graham, and Bloomsbury Publishing.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I head this book of my own volition and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.
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This was a nostalgic delight.  I have never read something that made me want to leave everything behind and have adventures.  This was way better than Kerouac’s On the Road.  The language was beautiful... it has advice that’s  current... this is definitely a classic for a reason.
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This Great Gatsby-era reflection on a life of wandering would seem to be out of date. But when you read beyond Graham's recommendation of the perfect hiking hat or walking shoes (or foldable, paper map), you will find in his insights words as inspiring and enlightening as one might find in Thoreau or Muir.

Among the nuggets of wisdom:
"In tramping you are not earning a living, but earning a happiness."
"There is perhaps no greater test of friendship than going on a long tramp."
"The richest people in life are the good listeners."
"The best companions are those who make you freest."
"There are three emblems of life: the first is the open road, the second is the river, and the third is the wilderness."
"The road is a glorious symbol of freedom and life."


When you consider that Graham wrote this ode on "tramping" in the decade before the word became a necessity, it makes the book a little more interesting.

This is a fun book that will inspire adventurers and bring back fond memories for those who, like me, have explored amazing places.

Special thanks to Net Galley for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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A book from the 1920s which tells you how to walk... and it is a delight.  Stephen Graham offers advice practical and philosophical, and leavens lyrical descriptions of the joys of hiking,  with a dry sense of humour.  There's a lot of fun to be had from contrasting the well-equipped 1920s' walker, resplendent in tweeds with today's hi-tech lightweight adventurer.  Graham recounts journeys through remote corners of Europe - to the Russian Steppes and Albania, where an armed guard is often required - and amongst cowboys in America.  He talks about people he's met (and I especially love Mr Forse, 'the tramping vicar of Southborne' who writes up his travels in his parish magazine) and how to deal with encounters with bears. 

This nostalgic glimpse of the past is part of the charm of the book, but Graham also extolls the positive effect of walking on the mind, a view isn't at all out of place in today's discussions of mindfulness and wellbeing.

Stephen Graham suggests that a well-chosen companion is important when tramping: I'd be happy to spend more time in the company of Stephen Graham.
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4.5 stars.

Going into this one, I was a bit unsure of what to expect. Written in the 1920s, how would it relate to today? 

It turns out that a lot is still quite relevant. 

The wording used is quite poetic and you as the reader can tell that Graham had a huge love of tramping (Hiking, camping, wandering).

This gave me the same wanderlust feeling I had while reading "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.

Obviously some of the chapters are less applicable in today's culture than others, but overall this is an inspirational and beautifully written work that is worth taking in slowly over several days to allow yourself to really nest into the words.

Highly recommend this!
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A lovey read full of valuable ideas.To take off to walk through nature escaping the everyday world.To treat the environment people life in general in a kind thoughtful way.An early look at what we now call unplugging. I will be gifting this to friends will make for excellent book club discussions.#netgalley #bloomsburyuk.
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Delighted that this is getting a reissue from Bloomsbury, complete with a new introduction which slightly states the obvious (outfits and terminology have changed; the restorative delight of wandering away from one's trappings and responsibilities, and over hill and dale, have not). It definitely fits with the revival of interest in nature writing, outdoors life &c, even if I fear it may be co-opted by the sort of sanctimonious berks who think not being on Facebook makes them John Connor. If it does, try your best to ignore that; it's a read to delight the heart. 

Also - the new cover is perfect.
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