Bailey, a British staff writer for the New Yorker, records his three-week journey from Cardiff, the capital of Wales on the southern coast, north/northwest to Bangor on the Irish Sea. Avoiding roadways whenever possible, Bailey's preferred walkways are Roman roads, abandoned rail lines, mountain trails, and footpaths through farms. For accommodations he chooses youth hostels, inns, and bed and breakfast homes. Traversing bogs and climbing mountains, Bailey is able to describe the terrain, yielding a vivid picture of the Welsh landscape. His discussions of the places he visits, including Roman forts, medieval cathedrals, coal mines, slate quarries, sheep farms, schools and seaside resorts, provide interesting insight into the country's political, economic and social history. Bailey's encounters with a variety of people along the way illuminate aspects of the country's history as well as some of the current controversies facing the country, such as the influx of English retirees and the struggle to provide the Welsh identity and separate language.
Although Bailey's actual journey only lasted three weeks, the scope of information he provides spans centuries and makes for interesting reading.
Reviewed by ch, 7/98. Other reviews by ch.