Take a stroll through the mists of time

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Discover -

In her new book ‘A His­tory of the World in 500 Walks’, Sarah Bax­ter re­veals the treks that tell the story of mankind. Here, she se­lects some favourites

Llook­ing out over the glis­ten­ing blue sea, I re­alised: it is pos­si­ble to travel back in time. I was en­joy­ing a well-earned lunch break on Eng­land’s South West Coast Path, a route forged by 19th-cen­tury coast­guards on the look­out for smug­glers. But I was also sit­ting atop Juras­sic-era cliffs flecked with fos­sils, in turn topped by an Iron Age hill fort, since com­man­deered by the MOD. The mil­len­nia-old earth­works pro­vided an ex­cel­lent pic­nic spot.

By walk­ing – and us­ing a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion – you can take your­self back to by­gone ages. Eschew­ing trans­port puts us on a level play­ing field with our fore­bears and we see the world through their eyes. Even if the view has changed, tread­ing on ground stomped by the sol­diers, kings, pi­o­neers and pil­grims of the past forges a con­nec­tion back to them. Wher­ever you walk, some­one or some­thing has al­most cer­tainly gone be­fore. This en­riches ev­ery ram­ble. It means we can stride out amid land­scapes made won­der­fully weird by geo­ther­mal ac­tiv­ity. We can stroll via crum­bling cas­tles, walls that kept peo­ple in – and out – fur­rows made by slaves and es­capees, streets lined with epoch-defin­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, or re­ally old trees. Some­times I think: if only the earth could talk. Then I look closely – at the grooves and hum­mocks, at the ru­ins and well­p­re­served re­mains – and find that, if you re­ally lis­ten hard, it does. Point in time: 100BC-AD100 (the peak of Pe­tra civil­i­sa­tion) Length: 28 miles; 4-6 days Dif­fi­culty: Easy/mod­er­ate Best months: Feb-April, Oct-Dec

Mosel­steig, Ger­many

As I sat by the banks of the lazy Moselle, chilled ries­ling in hand, I made a toast to the Ro­mans. For with­out them, this would be a far less in­tox­i­cat­ing place. They first brought viti­cul­ture here 2,000 years ago. Wine was deemed es­sen­tial, so when the le­gions forged into Ger­ma­nia – es­tab­lish­ing Au­gusta Trevero­rum (Trier) in 16BC – grapes were planted to en­sure a ready sup­ply. Two mil­len­nia later, the Moselle is flanked by vines, even on the steep­est slopes. Sec­tions of river­bank that aren’t grow­ing grapes are dot­ted with vil­lages fling­ing open their

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