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Right to Ramble

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Towns Along the Way
An index of some towns near trails and parks that I've described.

My Interesting Tales page has old front page items. Dated but still interesting.

Rails to trails: A discussion of historical connections to old rail beds

India-Lyucknow, Woman carrying bowl on her head
Lucknow, India.
February, 2004


montreal-mont-royal-misty path
A Misty path on Mont Royal, Montreal, on a rainy day.
February 27, 2009

Cool page of the month:
April, 2013
Have a look at Talking Walking, a site that highlights people who use walking to inspire them in their work and in life.

Some other cool stuff:
Remember Laurie Anderson? Here's a YouTube of her spacy song "Walking Falling."
Too out there? Try Robert Johnson from the 1920s playing "Walking Blues."


Of course, no walking site is complete without a reference to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks skit. View it here . Remember to take notes.


The text of Thoreau's
"Walking" is such a classic that I have included the full text on this site.Check out my notes. They are ongoing, but at this point the early sections are  extensive.


One of the irritating aspects of the Internet is the unacknowledged borrowing that goes on. I
t's easy to find dozens of identical pieces of writing plus photos with no clear idea who did the original work.
 I try to acknowledge sources and provide appropriate links. Unless clearly noted, all writing is original to this site. Please, if you use any of this material, acknowledge me  (Peter R. Snell) or the credited writer if it is not me, and vishwawalking.ca. Photos without credits were taken by me.
Many thanks.


walk dudeVishwawalkingwalk dude

The Peripatetic Perambulations of Poncho Pete (and Other Diversions)

Some parts of this site will forever be unfinished. Its pages are constructed as strolls, which means some sections are not as easy to get at as others.

 Happy vishwawalking!        -Peter R. Snell

"Walking, ideally is a state in which the mind, the body and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them." - Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust (p. 5)

To access information on trails I have described (mostly in southern Ontario), click on the "Vishwawalks" or "Parks, etc." links on the toolbar.

camino shoes


From late April to mid-June, I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, including the extended bits west of Santiago to Finisterre and Muxia and the sea, about 900 kilometres of trail walking in all. I have somehow avoided writing about any of it, but must get some impressions of this classic walk on paper soon.

It's cross-country skiing time in my neck of the woods in Central Ontario, Canada. The conditions are good right now (January, 2016). Left is a picture of a three-story apartment for squirrels, insects and other residents of Vanderwater Park south of Tweed.


Foster Powell

Radical Walking

Every dedicated walker has felt that at least sometimes their addiction was viewed as a crime. Taking a shortcut through someone's private property one might meet with the outraged "owner" of a large tract of land. (I scare quote "owner" because I lean to the native belief that no one can really own land. We can be caretakers and as walkers we must be caretakers of any land we walk upon.

If some of this sounds familiar, you're part of a tradition that stretches back hundreds of years. Have a look at Donna Landrer's "Radical Walking" essay. This is a fine piece of academic writing. "
Whether in cities or the country, we are now in effect poachers in privatised space," concludes Landry.

She mentions 18th-century walker Foster Powell (right), who walked 402 miles in fives days, amongst other feats.

A cartoon of Foster Powell (see comment to the left).This image is
from a delightful collection of images of and writings about quirky
characters in The Book of Wonderful Characters, published in 1869.

Finlo Rohr
has written an excellent piece connecting walking with thinking, wandering, getting lost (in a good sense), writing, philosophy and the like. It's a BBC piece called "The slow death of purposeless walking" (May 1, 2014).


Algonquin Park, Ontario

I walked the Highlands Backpacking Trail in one day on August 21, 2013. It's a 35-kilometre trail in Algonquin Park, but with the extensions it ended up as a 40-kilometre walk for me. Read my report here. I have also posted my late September walk in Algonquin's Eastern Pines Backpacking Trail.

In the spring of 2013, I walked the first 200 miles of the southern section of the Appalachian Trail, from Amicalola Falls State Park (the approach trail at the south end) to the start of the trail on Springer Mountain (both in Georgia), then on to to Clingmans Dome just inside the border of Tennessee, with North Carolina to the south. I've completed a description of the approach trail and the first 60 miles. See here for my Appalachian page

Some politics...

The U.S. government is cutting off its nose to spite its face, as my mum used to say.
appalachian: view from rocky bald
Here's a piece from the Knoxville Daily Sun describing cutbacks to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and similar parks across the country. It's killing a thriving tourist industry and depriving millions of Americans of a cheap and healthy way to relax.

A view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Rocky Bald on the Appalachian trail
miles from Springer Mountain)
. A photo cannot do justice to the breathtaking
splendour of these mountains: after hours of long, exhausting trekking, the top of
a mountain is reached, or there is an opening in the trail's forest canopy, and you
cannot fail to be awestruck by the grandeur of these ancient hills. Photo: June 5, 2013

Here's a touching story from 1969 about a seven-year-old boy who got lost in the Great Smokies and was never found.

In Canada, the federal government and the Ontario provincial government (and likely other provinces) are slashing programs too. It's somewhat more muted than the American version, but it's slow and steady and it's eroding our parks and natural spaces. (See this Globe and Mail report for federal park cuts; this Toronto Star article for Ontario park cuts.) Same end effect: a nasty jab at affordable recreation for the middle and lower classes, a devastating kick at the livelihood of tourist operators, and the elimination of hundreds of research programs, youth programs and the like to generally lower our standard of living. False thrift. Recently, (2014) the Ontario provincial government, backed off slightly, reopening three parks—and then wanted accolades for correcting their error.


While their language can be obscure, the U.S.-based  Performing Mobilities Network is intriguing. They apparently use performance artists to investigate aspects of "mobility" including walking. If they could get a tad further from the foggy artistic/academic doubletalk, they could be onto something. As one of my careers includes performance, it seems a good thing could be developed here. Of course, gypsies and the like were on to this years ago, but still, a formal (practical) investigation of art and walking could be exciting. Sign me up!


Camping in the air -- from the Daily Mail

Camping in the air. This is from the Daily Mail. Slackwalking and now camping on nets and ropes. Definitely out there! Take a stroll with nothing but 420 feet of air between you and the desert sand.

 Camping on nets and wires in Moab, Utah. The feat took
twelve daredevils to haul up the supporting ropes.
Daily mail photo by Andy Lewis


John Ruskin, Study of Gneiss Rock, 1853. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England

"But the slightest rise and fall in the road,—a mossy bank at the side of a crag of chalk, with brambles overhanging it,—a ripple over three or four stones in the stream by the bridge,—above all, a wild bit of ferny ground under a fir or two, looking as if, possibly, one might see a hill if one got to the other side of the trees, will instantly give me intense delight, because the shadow, or the hope, of hills is in them.

— John Ruskin, The Mountain Glory

Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlas, 1853, Ashmolean Museum,
Oxford, England. Pen and Ink and wash with Chinese ink on
paper. Photo: From John Ruskin Wikopedia page.

Vanderwater Park, near Thomasburg, Ontario is my "home park." This ice and water pictorial essay of a little seasonal falls and creek that flows in the park, eventually pouring into the Moira River, describes one of my favourite haunts.


wing walker-daily mail photo

This might not technically be walking, but it's known as "wing walking." Pretty crazy stuff. A professional wing walker died in late June 2013 when the plane she was performing on crashed.

Photo: from the Daily Mail (see link above).


Nude Hiking

I can't have a front page without  regular news on nude hiking. (See Interesting tales  for past stories concerning hikers who get a charge out of walking in the buff in Germany and elsewhere. For places to do this and general news, check out Hiking Naked in America and Around the World.

You have to read the forums. Here's a sample: "
I left my house this morning wearing only my trusty loincloth/kilt and my VFFs [Vibram Five Fingers, a type of "barefoot" shoe].   The loin cloth must be passing muster with my fellow Bostonians on my local trails, as several people, men and women alike, pulled me aside today and started chatting with me about my VFFs, how do I like? etc."

It's because they're embarrassed that they're looking at your feet, Bud.

Stephen Gough is trudging across Britain as we speak (unless he's in the clink). In October, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights rejected his bid to get them to support his claim that his rights are being transgressed.

naked rambler - stephen gough Guardian photo He has spent an incredible amount of time in prison for his efforts, but continues his hobby with passion. See this June 19, 2013 Guardian article for details on his latest jailing.   In February, 2013, the courts ordered him to cover up, but he  obviously didn't abide.

Prudery, attention-getting, psychological warts and so on aside, it's more about the right to be eccentric. The Brits, of all nations are experts at that.

Stephen Gough hiking in Scotland. See the full Guardian (on the link to the
left) article for more. Photo from the Guardian site.

In late June, the Appalachian has a nude hiking day. Here's a really bad cutline from the Christian Science Monitor in 2009. Apparently the governor of South Carolina took off unannounced on nude hiking day. The CSM made the connection, except that it was simply a coincidence. The governor may or may not be a really naughty guy, but the supposedly humorous connection may fool some into thinking he really did hike nude!

Of course, if you meet a naked hiker, depending upon your gender, it could be unsettling. Here's a woman who has some advice if you meet a naked hiker on the Appalachian, or any trail for that matter: Six safety tips a naked hiker taught me.


Some years ago, the Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine, declared Vancouver the best Canadian walking city. (By the way, the CFPM site is pretty cool if you're looking for advice on foot care.) Second was Fredericton, followed by Nanaimo, Brantford and Peterborough. A CNW article (which looks like it's actually a CFPN news release) provides more information, including a list of the top 15 cities. Westjet airlines has a 2010 list that's interesting, although a  check of where the judges live indicates some bias in city choices.



Texting and walking -- not a good idea.
2012: Here's a CBC report on texting and walking. Some U.S. states are considering a ban on texting or listening to music while walking. Recently, after a decline, there's been an increase in  deaths while walking. Some say this is because of inattentive walkers, listening to music or texting while walking. CBC filed a report from New York.

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, cops are Handing out $85 tickets for texting and walking. You are warned: in Fort Lee, just walk and chew your gum. Stop at a bar for a couple of beer before texting.

Time to walk faster. An article in the Post Chronicle discusses a study in which it claims older people who walk slowly will die earlier than those of the same age who walk faster. A report last year (2012) links slower walking with the greater chance of getting dementia in later years.

On the other hand, some claim that walking slower burns more calories. Be careful here: an often-cited University of Colorado report by Ray Browning actually makes a more subtle point, which is that obese people, who may like walking at a more leisurely pace will make more strides within a weight-loss management program than if they push themselves.


The Human Body is Built for Distance Check out this  New York Times article. It's mostly about running, but there are arguments here for walkers to ponder.

I like the pitch for lower tech footwear. I'm testing out a very light pair of Vibram Five Fingers now (March 2013).  It's too early to tell, but I think at the very least they'll make a light second piece of footwear for fording creeks and sitting around a camp in the evening giving my boots a rest.

August, 2013 update: my "VFF's" are great for teaching my toes not to overlap (which they do). However, I have found that they don't work for me in camp. After a tiring day hiking, spending a long time to put on shoes that are not particularly comfortable is a big negative. My pair is also very thin, so stumbling on any rock or root could damage my foot (and stumbling is much more likely after a long day).

Also, after not too much use, they stink. Washing with soap helps, but that's another job that's a drag. I'll stick with something that protects my toes a bit more and that I can slip into quickly to give my feet a break from boots.

Some explanations:

The "Vishwawalks"  and "Day walks" links to the left will lead you to the walks I have chronicled so far.

The former are generally long-distance trails (which I break down into day walks) and the latter are parks and more contained trails.

The trails listed are mostly local to central Ontario  where I live. I trust this will expand with time.

Some parks are more than day walks and some shorter trails can be done in a day; check them both out.

For those who are a little more daring, check out my "Get Lost" link to the left.  Follow the links and you'll find my investigation of abandoned buildings and the like. (These adventures are not for the timid.)

The site map page has a standard index that may help. A list of towns near trails and parks may also help.

"Funky places" will lead you to some great not-so-mainstream places to wander around.

"Future walks" is an ongoing exercise in which I build up information on walks I have not yet taken. In this section I am presently checking out a 19th-century book by C.G. Harper, tracking his travels through England and adding more contemporary information. 

Interesting tales  Stories and links that have graced the front page in the past can be found here. Cool walking sites,  mechanical legs, naked hikers, we'll keep you posted.

World walkers: It seems that many world walkers either weary of their walks or weary of the business of updating their websites. A casual stroll through several world-walker sites reveal bold plans, but no clue as to whether they were completed. Still, have a look at the sites of Hawk McGuinness, Jean Béliveau Darren Wendell, William Bryan  Schlackman et al., and the walkers in the column to the right. Amazing stuff.
World walkers:

The Goliath Expedition:
Karl Bushby started walking around the world in November 1998. His last Internet message seems to be April, 2012, so where he is now is anybody's guess. The above site has nice graphics but poor information.

Gary "Walkingman" Hause"Keep on Walking, Life is Amazing, Singing Zippity Do Dah , All Day Long." — quote from House, who has completed his Australia leg walking and biking around the world. Apparently, he' headed out of Arizona in November 2012 walking toward Mexico.

Captain Robert Barclay-Allardice, the "Celebrated Pedestrian."

Captain Robert Barclay-Allardice, 1779-1854, the Celebrated Pedestrian. He once walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours — a walker to be reckoned with. Peter Radford has a book about him called The Celebrated Captain Barclay, Headline Books Publishing, London, 2001. Check out this Guardian Review of the book.  (Photo from the Wikipedia website: Photo by Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill in the National Galleries of Scotland. Check out the Wikipedia links about the artists; they're a fascinating pair.)
Matt and Pete at vanderwater"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going a la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean."
— Henry David Thoreau

Left to right: Matt Snell and Peter R. Snell,  Vanderwater Park, Ontario. Photo: Carol Snell, October, 2008

Vishwa (or vishva) is Hindi for "world." 

Hence, "worldwalking."

This site is a chronicle of rambles, both long and short. There is a section on odd or out-of-the way sites of interest. You will find various ruminations on the art of walking and some practical information that will make walks more fun. There's lots of impractical stuff too, to keep things lively.

Vishwawalking is both the physical act of walking and the mental act of dreaming an exotic walk. I make no apologies for the wordiness here; this is not a find-it-fast website.

The planned walks I have not done outstrip the ones I have chronicled. It's a game: the virtual trips unfold until there's nothing for it but to attempt it in reality.

Both virtual and real trips are always works in progress.

Real walks need to be taken with a care for observation; virtual walks are a meander through endless sources. They too should never be rushed.
The larger dream: just as road maps connect highways and backroads, so "vishwamaps" could connect walking routes in a fantastic web across nations around the world.
There is an opportunity here for those who are willing to take the road less travelled to find attractions that are not in many guidebooks.

Vishwawalking can be undertaken by anyone with a love for walking, whether it be a quick half hour at lunch or four months on the Appalachian Trail. Its more particular meaning involves creating walking "threads," which I describe 

"We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of adventure, never to return, — prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms."

Moira river, sunset
Sunset, Moira River, below Vanderwater Park. November 2008

Walter Benjamin, in One-Way Street (1923-26):
"The power of a country road when one is walking along it is different from the power it has when one is flying over it by airplane. In the same way, the power of a text when it is read is different from the power it has when it is copied out.

"The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscape, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of its turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front. Only the copied text thus commands the soul to him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of daydreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command. The Chinese practice of copying books was thus an incomparable guarantee of literary culture, and the transcript a key to China's enigmas."

I am walking; it is enough.

Ice grass beside Nesowadnehunk Stream

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Ice grass, Nesowadnehunk Stream,

            Appalachian Trail, Maine.
            November, 2008
Page created: February 3, 2009
Updated: June 6, 2017