Life: The Wordsworth Way

“When the third summer freed us from restraint, / A youthful friend, he too a mountaineer, / Not slow to share my wishes, took his staff, / And sallying forth, we journeyed side by side, / Bound to the distant Alps…” –William Wordsworth in The Prelude

walkin bootsWithin the next hour, I’ll be taking off on a very haphazardly planned backpacking trip. In total, I will cover approximately 210 miles through France, Switzerland, and Italy. I don’t know yet how I will be getting home. I’ve chosen my route based on the poetry of William Wordsworth…and not upon some massively well-planned-out-and-popular-alpine-trekking-tourist route, so I’m not exactly sure what adventures I’ll run into along the way. I only have maps for half of the distance at this point…


I’m planning on retracing the route that Wordsworth took from Chamonix, France (where I’m currently living) to Como, Italy on the walking tour he made with his friend Robert Jones in the summer of 1790. I’ve wanted to do this for years…ever since I first studied Wordsworth’s long autobiographical poem, The Prelude, in graduate school. I recently spent a week at The Wordsworth Trust’s reading room in Grasmere, England to brush up on my research and find more out about the route they took.

My research in England shocked me in some ways…basically, I realized how freaking fast these guys were moving. They covered the 210-mile distance in seven days, and I’m hoping to do the same. To this end, I’ve packed only a light pack, with bivouac gear for sleeping, and I’m hoping to buy food in towns or eat at huts along the way (so I’m not taking a stove and fuel, etc.).

packed pack

I’ll be checking in with my gal pal Louise each day, hoping to stick to the following itinerary (Wordsworth’s in 1790):

Sunday, July 19: Chamonix, France to Martigny, Switzerland
Monday, July 20: Martigny to “village beyond Sion,” Switzerland
Tuesday, July 21: “village beyond Sion” to Brig,” Switzerland
Wednesday, July 23: Simplon Pass/Spittal Hut, Switzerland
Thursday, July 24: Spittal to Mergozzo, Italy
Friday, July 24: Mergozzo to village in Lago Maggiore area (maybe Arona?), Italy
Saturday, July 25: Lago Maggiore to Como, Italy


I once lunched on the lake in Como, so I know of this area’s beauty…it’s like the Italian Lake District. I’m already imagining myself sunning on the lakeshore, recovering from the pain and blisters and worry I’m sure I’ll experience in the process of reaching this destination.

See you back at “Down and Out” in a week…or two?!


5 responses to “Life: The Wordsworth Way

  1. Bonne Courage!

  2. Wow, what a great adventure. Good luck!

  3. Shawna Macnamara

    be on the lookout for George Clooney in Como

  4. Oh, Lago di Como is one of the best spots in the world. Have a great trip.

  5. Hey–thanks to all of you for the encouragement. Como does rock, but I didn’t see Clooney. Some Italian guy did reference him, however, in casual conversation. His celebrity is definitely a part of this area’s consciousness…funny, huh?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s