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And Did Those Feet: Walking Through 2000 Years of British and Irish History

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The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connell The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connelly decided to rectify this, and set out on a series of walks that recreate famous historical journeys. En route he retells the story of the original trip while discovering who and what now inhabit these iconic routes. Walking in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Charlie journeys alongside Boudicca's ghost in Norfolk, relives Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight to Skye disguised as Flora MacDonald's maid and takes the same 32-mile round trip as the starving Louisburgh famine walkers. He suffers broken toes, becomes trapped in the Scottish Parliament and encounters dead poets and a surprisingly high number of mad old women in woolly hats. Told with Charlie's customary charm and wit, And Did Those Feet will reveal the historical secrets hidden in the much-loved coastal, country and urban landscapes of Britain.


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The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connell The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connelly decided to rectify this, and set out on a series of walks that recreate famous historical journeys. En route he retells the story of the original trip while discovering who and what now inhabit these iconic routes. Walking in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Charlie journeys alongside Boudicca's ghost in Norfolk, relives Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight to Skye disguised as Flora MacDonald's maid and takes the same 32-mile round trip as the starving Louisburgh famine walkers. He suffers broken toes, becomes trapped in the Scottish Parliament and encounters dead poets and a surprisingly high number of mad old women in woolly hats. Told with Charlie's customary charm and wit, And Did Those Feet will reveal the historical secrets hidden in the much-loved coastal, country and urban landscapes of Britain.

30 review for And Did Those Feet: Walking Through 2000 Years of British and Irish History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    It's nothing new to walk in the footsteps of famous people and journeys. This was quite entertaining although some of the 'humour' was juvenile and unfunny. Connelly is a pretty decent writer and his observations as he journeys around the country, plus the history he gives us, is more than sufficient. I could have done without the silly asides. And did he really believe that Robert Burns had met the Bronte sisters? He certainly seems to have swallowed the tale. Burns was dead well before any of t It's nothing new to walk in the footsteps of famous people and journeys. This was quite entertaining although some of the 'humour' was juvenile and unfunny. Connelly is a pretty decent writer and his observations as he journeys around the country, plus the history he gives us, is more than sufficient. I could have done without the silly asides. And did he really believe that Robert Burns had met the Bronte sisters? He certainly seems to have swallowed the tale. Burns was dead well before any of the Bronte sisters were born.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Rayton

    Entertaining and educational. Would be a good for anyone interested in history and living in the UK and also people visiting the UK and wanting to know more about it. I learnt quite a lot from this book and it was fun to do so.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Beth (bibliobeth)

    From the blurb, this book looked right up my street. I’ve recently discovered a thirst for history, and one man re-creating the journeys of famous historical figures looked like it was going to be a page turner. The author decides to walk from Norwich to St Albans as Boudica’s trail of destruction satisfies her hunger for revenge, then turns to King Harold’s tramp to Hastings where he famously lost his life in battle after being hit through the eye by a rogue arrow. Next we learn about Olaf the From the blurb, this book looked right up my street. I’ve recently discovered a thirst for history, and one man re-creating the journeys of famous historical figures looked like it was going to be a page turner. The author decides to walk from Norwich to St Albans as Boudica’s trail of destruction satisfies her hunger for revenge, then turns to King Harold’s tramp to Hastings where he famously lost his life in battle after being hit through the eye by a rogue arrow. Next we learn about Olaf the dwarf on the Isle of Man, the last true Welsh king, the escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven and a cross-dressing Bonnie Prince Charlie whom also on the run. Lastly and very poignantly we learn about the 1849 walk of starving peasants in Ireland during the famine, a walk of which I was previously unaware of and felt very moved by. Connelly’s tales are quite witty and his anecdotes quite charming, I enjoyed picking up tabs of information that I hadn’t realised, for example did you know that Mary Queen of Scots was a football fan? At other times, it seemed like he had quite limited knowledge of the history that he was recounting – although this could be because we have a complete lack of historical evidence for the particular figure or incident. There did seem to be an awful lot of complaining about the weather which ideally he should have been prepared for, but hey isn’t that what we British do best?! These slight negatives aside, I did feel as if I learned a few things and would like to delve into them a little deeper at a later date. Please see my full review at http://www.bibliobeth.wordpress.com

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sho

    The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connelly decided to rectify this, and set out on a series of walks that recreate famous historical journeys. I loved the other two b The landscape of the British Isles is filled with history, much of which we miss as it flashes past the car window. Do we even realise that we're following the same path as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, or that we're driving past the exact spot where King Harold was killed, shot through the eye with an arrow? As a lover of both history and the British countryside, Charlie Connelly decided to rectify this, and set out on a series of walks that recreate famous historical journeys. I loved the other two books of his that I read and have high hopes of this one. He did annoy me quite a lot in this one (compared to the most excellent Shipping Forecast by going out hiking in bad weather totally unprepared and unequipped).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    An enjoyable amble through various by-ways of British history told with self-deprecating humour by the author who sets out on his trek from a Norwich Travelodge as an inexperienced walker but ends up covering all corners of the country. The initial gaucheness is a bit irritating at first but it soon gets into its stride as some random historical stories are vividly brought to life by retracing the steps of such characters as Boudicca, Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie amongst others.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Spotted on Jo and Betties profiles and I like the sound of it. The book is humourous and a quick read, although I did find his moaning about the weather annoying. If you are going to go walking around Britain in October don't start moaning when it starts raining. i would also point out that Burke and Hare never robbed graves, the first body they sold died of natural causes the rest they murdered. Spotted on Jo and Betties profiles and I like the sound of it. The book is humourous and a quick read, although I did find his moaning about the weather annoying. If you are going to go walking around Britain in October don't start moaning when it starts raining. i would also point out that Burke and Hare never robbed graves, the first body they sold died of natural causes the rest they murdered.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jane Gregg

    I loved the premise of this memoir - a guy walks in the feet of ancients before him and tells interesting historical anecdotes, blended with his own observations. What I didn't love was a slightly geeky tone, and the sometimes bad jokes. All in all - mostly good. I loved the premise of this memoir - a guy walks in the feet of ancients before him and tells interesting historical anecdotes, blended with his own observations. What I didn't love was a slightly geeky tone, and the sometimes bad jokes. All in all - mostly good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    Starting from the premise that history is all around us, Charlie Connelly embarks on a series of walks throughout the British Isles following the routes of significant historical events: Boudicca's revolt in East Anglia and London, King Harold's rapid march from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, Owain Glyndwr's rising against the English in the Fifteenth Century, Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape after Culloden, among others. I love travel books that feature long walks (almost as much as I love long wal Starting from the premise that history is all around us, Charlie Connelly embarks on a series of walks throughout the British Isles following the routes of significant historical events: Boudicca's revolt in East Anglia and London, King Harold's rapid march from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, Owain Glyndwr's rising against the English in the Fifteenth Century, Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape after Culloden, among others. I love travel books that feature long walks (almost as much as I love long walks) as they move at just the right speed to really notice things and to strike up conversations with strangers. Connelly's writing is clear, perceptive and laced with a self-deprecating observational humour that made reading this a real pleasure.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A amusing and informative walk (both literally and figuratively) through 2000 years of British history. Excellently narrated by David Thorpe, I found myself chuckling heartily at points. My favourite journeys were Boudicca, Harold (Stamford Bridge to Hastings), the journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie. I found the journeys focusing on the flight of Mary, Queen of Scots to be extremely interesting, and the last, focused on the Irish Potato Famine to be very poignant.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leila Mota

    What a great book! It's true that I love history, but the author has a way of telling us about his journeys that makes us feel as if we were travelling with him, present and past. He's informative and he's funny. I'll certainly be looking for more books from Connelly. What a great book! It's true that I love history, but the author has a way of telling us about his journeys that makes us feel as if we were travelling with him, present and past. He's informative and he's funny. I'll certainly be looking for more books from Connelly.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    His historical 'facts' are somewhat dubious but it was an amusing audio book for my daily commute. His historical 'facts' are somewhat dubious but it was an amusing audio book for my daily commute.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark Glover

    Another one I first listened to on audio book but have subsequently gone back and reread, I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. Charlie Connelly is a very gifted author in his ability to approach history and really bring it to life in a humorous and interesting manner. An easy comparison to make would be to call him a British Bill Bryson and their are certainly a number of attributes that the two share that make there works equally enjoyable. Such lazy comparison however does deny Another one I first listened to on audio book but have subsequently gone back and reread, I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. Charlie Connelly is a very gifted author in his ability to approach history and really bring it to life in a humorous and interesting manner. An easy comparison to make would be to call him a British Bill Bryson and their are certainly a number of attributes that the two share that make there works equally enjoyable. Such lazy comparison however does deny Connelly his due when it comes to his style though as while Bryson seems to be the perennial outsider looking in Connelly seems more of an enthusiastic everyman. He knows his history for sure and a lot of the history here is both fascinating and mostly unknown to myself(in part due to my non native status I guess) but his approach is such that he enlivens the subject matter and always brings it back to the human experience of history. At the start of the book Connelly tells us that a formative experience for him was a conversation with a room mate who stated that Philosophy was about 'everything' to which he argued that actually it was history that more aptly encompassed the term. And it is this that I think Connelly successfully proves in this book, as he progresses through each of his walks he shows us that history is in fact all around us if choose to make the effort to look out for it and that for the most part its continued relevance is not due to historians interests but by its relevance to the people who continue to feel the effect of its passing, be it the Welsh couple who meets having made a pilgrimage to the grave of the last welsh royal or the local historian who takes him around enthusing about each building in the town he has lived in all his life. Definitely a great book to get you enthused about two great and worthwhile pursuits walking and exploring the world and the history that surrounds us.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I rather enjoyed Charlie Connelly's Attention All Shipping, his book about visiting all the areas in the beloved British shipping forecast. This write up of another history-and-travel project was regrettably pedestrian and not just because it was largely on foot. Although he makes clear that he has a genuine lifelong interest in history, I didn't really feel there was much passion here. He gets the job done, but I never really lost the feeling that this was more work than pleasure for him. Bill I rather enjoyed Charlie Connelly's Attention All Shipping, his book about visiting all the areas in the beloved British shipping forecast. This write up of another history-and-travel project was regrettably pedestrian and not just because it was largely on foot. Although he makes clear that he has a genuine lifelong interest in history, I didn't really feel there was much passion here. He gets the job done, but I never really lost the feeling that this was more work than pleasure for him. Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island or Tony Hawks' Round Ireland with a Fridge this ain't. That's a pity because there are occasional funny flashes and whilst I'm afraid I struggle to get very interested in some of the better known individuals, he does do some interesting walks inspired by some lesser known historical figures - Harold, who did a bit more than get shot in the eye at the Battle of Hastings, Olaf the Dwarf for his Manx walk, and his afterthought Doolough Famine Walk. He also meets a few interesting contemporary characters along the way with no sense of him splashing on colour that wasn't there in the first place. It's not a bad book but wasn't the treat I was expecting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Abridged audio. Fluffy pop-hist. Martin Freeman reads from Charlie Connelly's travelogue in which he recreates a series of famous historical journeys through the British Isles. A wittily told journey through time as the author walks a series of famous historical journeys, uncovering British heritage and discovering the contemporary landscape. Episode 1: ---------- Charlie traces Boudicca's rampage of vengeance, walking from Norwich to St Albans. Episode 2: ---------- Charlie goes in search of King Haro Abridged audio. Fluffy pop-hist. Martin Freeman reads from Charlie Connelly's travelogue in which he recreates a series of famous historical journeys through the British Isles. A wittily told journey through time as the author walks a series of famous historical journeys, uncovering British heritage and discovering the contemporary landscape. Episode 1: ---------- Charlie traces Boudicca's rampage of vengeance, walking from Norwich to St Albans. Episode 2: ---------- Charlie goes in search of King Harold. Episode 3: ---------- Charlie traces King Harold's fateful march to Hastings. Episode 4: ---------- Charlie follows in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie and travels to the Isle of Skye. Episode 5: ---------- Charlie investigates a calamitous episode in Irish history, the 1849 Doolough famine walk in County Mayo. First broadcast in 2009 on BBC Radio Four.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This was a fun and informative book. Connelly follows in the footsteps (with only a few breaks on a bus or boat)of several famous historical figures. He traces Boudica's path to London, King Harold's journey from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, and several other interesting historical tours. Connelly is very funny, mixing in commentary about the modern sites/abominations he sees with his thoughts about the sense of history he encounters everywhere. I especially enjoyed the section about King Harold This was a fun and informative book. Connelly follows in the footsteps (with only a few breaks on a bus or boat)of several famous historical figures. He traces Boudica's path to London, King Harold's journey from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, and several other interesting historical tours. Connelly is very funny, mixing in commentary about the modern sites/abominations he sees with his thoughts about the sense of history he encounters everywhere. I especially enjoyed the section about King Harold, particularly when Connelly goes in search of Harold's grave, and the battlefield where he died. If you like British history and travel, this is a fun book. Connelly has an imaginative appreciation for the historical world of Britain. He brings history to life, which is something I always enjoy. I'll definitely be looking for his other books. In his book on Elvis, he goes to Finland, Uzbekistan, Canada, and (of course) Memphis and Las Vegas. Sounds like fun!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Louise Culmer

    Charlie Connelley retraces the path of journeys made by a number of memorable characters in British history, including Boudicca's rampage through eastern England, King Harold's march from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, the escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven etc. The book is quite enjoyable, though there are a few factual errors. For instance, at one point Connelly talks about a meeting between Robert Burns and the Bronte sisters, which would hardly have been possible, seeing that Burns Charlie Connelley retraces the path of journeys made by a number of memorable characters in British history, including Boudicca's rampage through eastern England, King Harold's march from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, the escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven etc. The book is quite enjoyable, though there are a few factual errors. For instance, at one point Connelly talks about a meeting between Robert Burns and the Bronte sisters, which would hardly have been possible, seeing that Burns died years before the Brontes were born. There are a few other similar oddities here and there. And as a previous reviewer pointed out, why go walking in October and then complain about the weather? Still, it is a mostly quite entertaining read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eloise

    I spent quite a bit of time screaming about OS maps when I first started reading this, luckily our intrepid author saw the light and was good enough to relate his conversion on the page. I found the history I was familiar with a tad simplistic, but that was more than made up for by the interest and sheer humanising empathy given to historic events and modern journeys. A treasure trove of anecdotes and windows of the soul to inspire a bit more study or a dusting off of walking boots. Also a good I spent quite a bit of time screaming about OS maps when I first started reading this, luckily our intrepid author saw the light and was good enough to relate his conversion on the page. I found the history I was familiar with a tad simplistic, but that was more than made up for by the interest and sheer humanising empathy given to historic events and modern journeys. A treasure trove of anecdotes and windows of the soul to inspire a bit more study or a dusting off of walking boots. Also a good lesson on the importance of decent maps and village pubs.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    I had enjoyed the author's Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast, so was looking forward to this one, but I never really found myself getting into it, as much as through it. Really 2.5 stars, neither smashing, nor a complete waste, just sort of ... there. I had enjoyed the author's Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast, so was looking forward to this one, but I never really found myself getting into it, as much as through it. Really 2.5 stars, neither smashing, nor a complete waste, just sort of ... there.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book has it all, a vengeful queen, a dwarf who was the king of man, battles with Vikings and Normans, a welsh uprising, a 16 mile walk by starving peasants, a cross-dressing Prince and a Scottish Queen who was also a football fan. The author manages to weave the stories of these people and walk their journeys across the British Isles whilst being funny, erudite and insightful. A cracking good read that had me belly laughing my way through it!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ann Thomas

    A very entertaining and informative book. It's not easy to make history fun. Very reminiscent of Bill Bryson. Author Charlie Connelly decided to retrace the footsteps of some famous events in British history, even though he was unfit and inexperienced at walking. He had some desperate moments, and some funny ones, and he weaves the story of his exploits in with the history he is trying to follow. Very readable, very clear, great fun. Even if you're not into history, highly recommended. A very entertaining and informative book. It's not easy to make history fun. Very reminiscent of Bill Bryson. Author Charlie Connelly decided to retrace the footsteps of some famous events in British history, even though he was unfit and inexperienced at walking. He had some desperate moments, and some funny ones, and he weaves the story of his exploits in with the history he is trying to follow. Very readable, very clear, great fun. Even if you're not into history, highly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rich

    An enjoyable book, Charlie Connelly just as funny as in his other books I've read. However, after the first couple of chapters, the walking seemed to take a backseat. There would maybe be one story in 100 miles of walk, he might as well have taken the train instead of walking. Also, a lot of the history seemed to be based on assumptions and guesswork, which is fine, some of this was ~1000 years ago. But the way it was packaged often made it sound like stone cold facts. An enjoyable book, Charlie Connelly just as funny as in his other books I've read. However, after the first couple of chapters, the walking seemed to take a backseat. There would maybe be one story in 100 miles of walk, he might as well have taken the train instead of walking. Also, a lot of the history seemed to be based on assumptions and guesswork, which is fine, some of this was ~1000 years ago. But the way it was packaged often made it sound like stone cold facts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    A charming book where Charlie Connolly undertakes some famous walks. Walking in the footsteps of the likes of Harald (walking from Stamford Bridge to Hastings) and Olaf the Dwarf (around the Isle of Man). Charming, funny, and a delight to read for every fan of British history and walking. Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    Abridged audio on BBC 4 Extra read by Martin Freeman. A fun way to learn about famous journeys taken by important historical figures in British and Irish history. Really want to read the full version one of these days and I may have added some things to my bucket list after listening to this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I listened to this on audio book. Listening whilst I was cleaning or shopping and quite frequently found myself just standing and staring into space as I was drawn onto the walks in this book. A very good little read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Connelly sets out to recreate famous walks from history. The book meanders along much as the author does himself. A bit of history combined with a travel journal. Funny in parts and a joy to read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Reena

    History teachers missed the good parts.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    I very good, informative look at British and Irish history. Charlie Connelly makes reading about history easy and is always humerous - this book has several laugh out loud moments!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Disappointing after the Shipping Forecast. Not a particularly novel concept and quite lightweight. Not very funny either.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Witty, dry humour. Just loved his take on history.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claire Greener

    Interesting book but was hoping for a read as fascinating as 'Attention all Shipping' and didn't absorb me as much. Interesting book but was hoping for a read as fascinating as 'Attention all Shipping' and didn't absorb me as much.

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