Imagine putting your coat on, opening the front door, closing it behind you and turning the key (you may not have to imagine the last bit if you have a door that locks itself, in which case I deeply envy you). You begin strolling along the pavement to a little field path and decide to keep on walking - the sun is shining and there's only so much of Tim Wonnacott a man can take, so why not? It proves a wise decision, because eventually you end up in Spain, the West Bank and the Himalayas, rambling to your heart's content and meeting lots of lovely people en route. When you arrive back home five years later, you decide to write a book not simply on the journey per se, but on landscape's influence on the human condition.
It may sound like a collective fantasy of the red sock brigade, but the above project belongs to author and Cambridge English lecturer Robert Macfarlane, whose 1,500-mile perambulation is documented in his most recent book, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. I sat down with the man himself to talk about walking, writing and being on the judging panel of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, two out of three of which I have direct experience of. No, that's right, I'm not much of a walker.