‘Walkergate’, is the name of a street near James Bruce’s home in Berwick-upon-Tweed and doubles up as a tabloid label for his trio of epic, largely footslogging peregrinations dating back to 2010. In January of that year he sailed from Portsmouth for a trek via France, Italy, the Balkans, Turkey and Syria to Jerusalem. The next year (inspired partly by 2009’s Lake Baikal Wilderness Lecture by Felicity Aston) he covered much of the ground from Norfolk to southern Russia and Kazakhstan, en route to Mexico via Siberia, Korea and Japan.
In 2013, moved by a powerful film about the work of school-feeding charity Mary’s Meals, he headed south for the grand finale. Making his way from David Livingstone’s birthplace in Blantyre, Scotland, he followed in some of the great missionary-explorer’s footsteps to Blantyre, Malawi.
Everyone knows there’s a world of difference between merely visiting a country, and living there. But by walking across it, there is an important sense in which you do in fact ‘live’ there. James has written and continues to write about his journeys. According to one reviewer to whom he has sent the manuscript of us book about his trip to Jerusalem, ‘Our Lady and the Tramp’, bears comparison with Patrick Leigh Fermor’s memoir, ‘A Time of Gifts’.