BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!


Go to the Listen Again page

Listen to Excess Baggage for

07 July 2007

There are now nineteen National Trails and long distance routes to walk in Great Britain ranging from 73 miles on the Great Glen Way in the Highlands to 628 miles on the South West Coast Path round the coast of Devon and Cornwall.  They vary in terrain from the wild and desolate tracks of the Pennines or the Southern Uplands to the tidy riverside paths of the Home Counties.

Sandi Toksvig talks to novelist Rosie Thomas who, having travelled and mountaineered in tough environments all over the world has recently discovered the pleasures of walking closer to home with a trek along the Offa’s Dyke Path and to David Bathurst the author of The Big Walks of Great Britain.

Stephen Clarke author of a series of novels about an Englishman resident in Paris has just published his hero’s latest adventures under the title of Merde Happens.  It is a fictionalised account of Stephen’s trips from Boston to Los Angeles in a mini car.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Offa's Dyke near Chirk McCoyWynne©Natural England

Photo: Offa's Dyke near Chirk (Courtesy of National Trails)
(McCoyWynne©Natural England)

This week’s guests:

Rosie Thomas
is the author of a number of celebrated novels, including the bestsellers White, The Potter’s House, If My Father Loved Me and Sun at Midnight.  Her book Iris and Ruby is Romantic Novel of the Year 2007.  As an experienced traveller, Rosie has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, and lived and worked on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica.

She came to walking and mountaineering quite late in her life.  In June this year Rosie decided to tackle the northern half of the Offa’s Dyke walk, from Knighton in Powys to Prestatyn on the north Wales coast where Rosie comes from, in all, ninety seven miles.

The Offa's Dyke Path is one of twelve designated National Trails.  Built by Offa, King of Mercia in 757 to 796 AD, the dyke formed the boundary between England and Wales.  Most of the path follows the ancient earthwork that separated Wales from the border Marches; it’s a topographically highly varied route with historical sites all along the way.

Offa’s Dyke association 

David Bathurst is the author of the guide The Big Walks of Great Britain, originally published as ‘Beaten Track’ in 2001 but has now been revised, expanded and updated.  David is a senior legal advisor to magistrates but has been walking long footpaths since he was in his teens. 

His first major walk was along the Pennine Way.  It turned out to be really hard, fortunately he met some other walkers and they finished the adventure in a group. In the early nineties when the National Trails were formed David decided to do them all, fitting in sections during long weekends and his annual holidays.

The Big Walks of Great Britain
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
ISBN-10: 1840245662
ISBN-13: 978-1840245660

National Trails

Offa’s Dyke Path

Stephen Clarke is a long time resident of Paris and the author of Talk to the Snail, a guide to understanding the French and several novels involving his hero Paul West - A Year in the Merde, In the Merde for Love, Merde Actually.

Stephen’s latest novel is based on his experience of America.  He had completed many trips to the USA promoting his books and then started hiring a mini for the journey from Boston to Los Angles via Florida which he achieved in stages.  He found he was both fascinated and annoyed by Americans.

In his latest novel Merde Happens, the hero Paul West finds that the only way out of financial crisis and debt is to accept a dodgy job that involves him crossing the USA in a Mini to promote British tourism, while pretending to be typically British.

Merde Happens
Publisher: Bantam Press
ISBN-10: 0593056310
ISBN-13: 978-0593056318

Walking Britain

Walking World Ltd.

The BBC cannot be held responsible for
the content of external sites

Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info
Listen Live
Audio Help
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Tell us about your travel experiences. e-mail Excess Baggage 
Find out about the 2007 winner and listen to their programme
Excess Baggage
Current Episodes
Archived Episodes
Current Programmes
Archived Programmes
News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy