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Six Pairs of Boots: Spain to Cyprus on the E4 Trail

John Pucknell

The E4 European Long Distance Trail is a 6,662 mile hiking route that arcs across Europe from Spain to Cyprus. Passing through eleven countries, it crosses diverse landscapes, from high mountains to unending plains, and submerges the traveller in a range of cultures, each with its own language (eight in all), cuisine and history.

Contemplating obstacles such as Mount Olympus and the Pyrenees, I thought the walk might be a bit of a challenge for me in my retirement. Speaking no language but English would not help. Some questioned the sanity of camping and walking alone in strange places, but, undeterred, I made my plans and set off from Tarifa. The man in the outdoors shop told me August was too hot to walk in southern Spain, so I started on the 1st of September. That was my first mistake...

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The author is a self-described ordinary, middle-aged bloke with a healthy dislike of routine. He was born sometime in the later fifties in Wales and spent his formative years in Cardiff and the Midlands, where the swinging sixties largely passed him by.

Taking early retirement from a career in engineering, confined to a desk and meeting rooms, he gave away his textbooks but was not yet ready to till an allotment like his father. On seeking his wife and dogs' wise counsel, he began long-distance walking, losing weight and developing a ‘six-pack' just about visible in the right light.

After chafing his thighs on Offa's Dyke Path and reading all the Brontë books on the Pennine Way (well, almost all), his sights turned to Europe. This book is the result.