A spellbinding travel book, exploring the psychology of walking, pilgrimage, solitude and escape.
At the age of twenty-seven, and afraid of falling into a life he doesn’t want, Robert Martineau quits his office job, buys a flight to Accra and begins to walk. He walks 1,000 miles through Ghana, Togo and Benin, to Ouidah, an ancient spiritual centre on the West African coast.
Martineau walks alone across desert, through rainforests, over mountains, carrying everything he needs on his back, sleeping in villages or on the side of paths. Along the way he meets shamans, priests, historians, archaeologists and kings. He begins to confront the lines of slavery and exploitation that binds his home to theirs. Through the process of walking each day, and the lessons of those he walks among, Martineau starts to find the freedom he craves, and to build connections with the natural world and the past.
In an extraordinary account of an adventure, and the inner journey that accompanies it, Martineau discovers how a walking pilgrimage can change a person.
Waypoints takes you into Africa in a different way, an intimate and grounded way that made me want to visit. What more can you ask of a book? -- Robert Twigger, author of 'Red Nile' This is a vivid, beautifully observed account of a trek through West Africa, but its true power lies in the way Martineau's deeply personal journey becomes a meditation on movement, belonging and being. Eclectic, spare, and at times redolent of Erling Kagge and Bruce Chatwin - there is a hint of greatness here. -- Daniel Metcalfe, author of 'Blue Dahlia, Black Gold: A Journey into Angola' Waypoints is a paean to the transformative power of a long journey on foot, and to walking's capacity to define and illuminate our sense of self. Martineau writes with remarkable intelligence and honesty, and a singular reverence for the people and places he encounters along the way. A magnificent book. -- Ben Saunders, polar explorer and endurance athlete His touch is light, his brushwork vivid, the account is full of surprises and refreshingly free of pomposity... A poignant illustration of the random kindness of strangers. -- Michela Wrong, author of 'In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz', 'Borderlines' and 'Do Not Disturb' Waypoints is an insightful, personal and genuinely moving account of what can be achieved with two feet, a backpack and a desire to keep on going... Waypoints is a rousing celebration of all that can be learned by getting off the path - this is an exceptional debut. -- Vybarr Cregan-Reid, author of 'Footnotes' An astonishing dream-like journey... Martineau has written a deeply affecting book which sears itself on the memory like the sun of the western Sahel. -- Philip Marsden, author of 'Rising Ground', 'The Spirit-Wrestlers' and 'The Crossing Place' An epic journey and a book worthy of it. A thrilling and poignant meditation on the elusive reasons for getting out of bed in the morning; a dazzling kaleidoscope of colour, sensation, and time. An important new voice has arrived. -- Charles Foster, author of 'Being a Beast' Stepping out in the spirit of Bruce Chatwin and Rebecca Solnit, Robert Martineau ranges through forest and desert, literature and philosophy, in search of an answer to why we are drawn to wander. Although he walks over a thousand miles, Waypoints is less a tale of endurance than a form of meditation. In elegant, searingly honest prose, he treads the same line as John Muir, for whom 'going out was really going in'. -- David Farrier, author of 'Footprints' Waypoints wonderfully explores how walking animates resilience in times of stress, anxiety and worry, illustrating, through personal experience, how the journey is often our collective human goal. -- Shane O'Mara, author of 'In Praise of Walking' This is a book about how to travel: curious, observant, informed and poignantly honest. It is a marvellous and sensitive portrayal of the author's inner and the outer world. -- Jay Griffiths, author of 'Wild: An Elemental Journey'
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