Benedict Allen follows Patrick Leigh Fermor’s epic 1931 quest across Europe, tracing the inns, haystacks and castles the young adventurer stayed in as he foot-slogged his way through Holland, Germany, Hungary and Romania towards Byzantium.
With his academic career punctuated by numerous school expulsions, the young Patrick Leigh Fermor put aside his troubles and set out across Europe to reach Constantinople in Turkey. It was the original backpacker journey, but also a quest in the romantic tradition of Lord Byron - that of the man of action and the intellectual combined.
His two accounts of that journey, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and Water, are a masterly portrait of a Europe about to be swept aside by war, and also an insight into the brilliant, classically educated mind of the author.
It is in remotest Greece that Benedict Allen finally tracks down the great man himself to discuss the nature, purpose and future of travel writing.