Bill puts his boots on for a marathon, and a movie that’s coming to Royston

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte play two aging hikers in A Walk in the Woods

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte play two aging hikers in A Walk in the Woods - Credit: special

Those of you who follow the literary career of Anglophile author Bill Bryson will know that he has something of a soft spot for these parts.

He made his name with Notes From A Small Island, a collection of observations of British life seen through the eyes of a puzzled but indulgent American.

He’s also published volumes taking in other parts of the world including Europe, Australia and his native land as well as books looking at particular moments in history, the humble house and even the language which he has found so profitable.

His latest book is a follow-up to that first wander around Britain – The Road To Little Dribbling is piled up at a bookshop near you in anticipation of bumper Christmas sales.

But it’s an altogether different book which has seen Bryson’s work made the step from the printed page to the big screen.

It’s still an autobiographical effort, in which the passionate nature-lover – at one time he put his writing on hold to head the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and wage war against litter – goes for a walk. A very long walk, in fact.

The Appalachian Trail stretches along the east coast of the United States from Georgia to Maine, through some of the most arresting and celebrated landscapes in North America.

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As he headed into middle age, Bill got together with a buddy to hike through 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but that was before weather, blisters, wildlife and boring hikers began to eat away at his enthusiasm for the great outdoors.

Being at such close quarters with to his pal also caused a few complications, with plenty of opportunities to comical conflict.

You can’t help feeling that there’s no way this slight tale would have been picked up and given the Hollywood treatment if venerable A-listers Robert Redford and Nick Nolte had not been stepping in to the leading roles, and they’re joined by a long list including the likes of Emma Thompson and Mary Steenburgen – an expansive cast for what was essentially a two-hander when it was first published.

It runs for a gentle 104 minutes the two big names rub up against each other happily enough, and it’s certainly a much less extreme exposure to the perils of the great outdoors than last week’s offering Everest.

There are screenings at Royston’s Picture Palace tomorrow, Friday, night and on Saturday, at 7.30pm. Visit to book tickets.