Between the Chalk and The Sea – with Gail Simmons

Travel writer, Dr Gail Simmons talks with Ian Cunningham about her latest book, Between the Chalk and the Sea and her career as a travel writer.

Between the Chalk and the Sea

An old map. A lost pilgrimage route. A journey in search of our walking heritage. When Henry VIII banned pilgrimage, he ended not only a centuries-old tradition of walking as an act of faith, but a chance to discover the joy of walking as an escape from the burdens of everyday life. Much was lost when these journeys faded from our collective memory, but clues remain. On an antique map in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, a faint line between Southampton and Canterbury suggests a significant, though long-forgotten, road. Renamed the Old Way, medieval pilgrims are thought to have travelled this route to reach the shrine of Thomas Becket. Over four seasons, winding 240 miles between the chalk hills and shifting seascapes of the south coast, Gail Simmons walks the Old Way to rediscover what a journey on foot offers us today. Described as England’s Camino, this long-distance footpath links prehistoric earthworks, abandoned monasteries, Saxon churches, ruined castles and historic seaports. Blending history, anthropology, etymology and geology, Gail reveals the rich natural and cultural heritage found on our own doorstep.

Picture of Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons

Gail is a contributor to many UK national newspapers and magazines including the Telegraph, Guardian, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Independent and Wanderlust, as well as several international publications such as TIME magazine, al-Jazeera English, the UAE National and CNN Traveller.

She has also broadcast on BBC’s ‘Excess Baggage’, the BBC’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ and, most recently, Woman’s Hour.
Gail has appeared at number of UK literary festivals in the past year to talk about her latest book which is now available in paperback.
Gail originally took a masters degree in medieval history and thereafter pursued a varied career that included working in a Cumbrian castle, protecting historic buildings and leading walking trips in Europe and the Middle East, before giving in to her nomadic and creative instincts to become a full-time travel writer.
She completed her PhD in Creative Writing and now teaches on a MA course in Travel & Nature Writing at bath Spa University.


Friday 19 Jul 24


7:30 pm - 9:00 pm




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