Beyond encouraging others to share his delight in walking in lovely places,
David McDowallwrites walkers' guides for other reasons. Over the past half century there has been an increasing conflict between our desire to use open spaces for our recreation and the need to conserve and protect them from degradation. This is as true of urban parks as it is of rural landscapes. We need to rediscover what is precious about them. When we know the ecological and human story of a particular landscape, our respect for it is enhanced. Another feature of the past 50 years has been our greatly increased mobility and rootlessness. We are no longer anchored in one place, as most of our forebears were. Acquiring an intimate knowledge of the landscape and what has happened to it over the centuries helps us to feel an affinity with the land we inhabit. The slowness of walking integrates us with the landscape, a civilising activity offering calm and connectedness in a troubled age.
Before he started writing walker's guides in 1996, David McDowall lived and worked in different parts of the world: in Hong Kong, India, Iraq, the Lebanon and Austria, serving in HM Forces, the British Council and the United Nations. He has travelled widely in the Near East and has written extensively on both British and Middle Eastern history, in particular on the Palestine question, the Lebanese conflict, and the Kurds of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. He is married to the writer Elizabeth Laird.