Tout en marchant

Il n’y a pas de chemin ; le chemin se fait en marchant – Life is what you make it.

Steve CracknellThis is a blog about the Pyrenees, walking, living in the south of France, and becoming français.

I was brought up on the outskirts of industrial Middlesbrough, in the gritty English North, the son of a metallurgist who worked for Imperial Chemical Industries all his life. I studied  engineering at university for two years. My destiny was to replicate my father: a hair-cut, a suit, a wife, and 2.4 children.

So how did I arrive here? Something to do with the spirit of 1968 ; I didn’t have to be like my father. Change was not only possible, it was essential.

Also, I had discovered the world of archaeology. Diggers were indeed dropouts. But they were also dedicated, hard-working, tough individualists: dropouts with a mission. It didn’t matter that they were badly paid, I wanted to be one.

A degree in archaeology followed and for several years I moved from one dig to another: Wales, Scotland, Germany. And then to Warwickshire to dig up Romans.

By 1982, however, archaeology had started to grow-up, cut its hair, and buy a suit. My girlfriend cut my hair, but the suit was my choice. Slowly I was sucked into the  routine of a 9-5 job. Slowly I was becoming a replica. The mould that I thought I had broken was being reconstructed from the pile of sherds. It was gripping me ever more tightly, crushing the life out of me.

So I started designing websites and moved, in 1997, with my wife (the same woman who had cut my hair) to a small French village. We now live a few minutes from the Mediterranean, a trowel’s throw from Roman town of Narbonne, near to the medieval castle of Carcassonne – for archaeology still has an influence.

Let’s be clear about it: I am not an expatriate, I’m an immigrant.


5 Responses to “Tout en marchant”

  1. Tim says:

    Hi Steve – we are a school travel company looking to do the Hendaye to St Jean Pied de Port section end of April. Just a quick question – is it possible this time of year for this section and which way to do the trek – preference mountains to coast or coast to mountains. thanks, Tim

  2. steve says:

    Hi Tim,
    You can probably do this section but you may encounter a little snow at the end of April. Walk from the coast but plan alternatives after Ainhoa in case there are problems. I’m assuming the kids are 13+

    best wishes

  3. Hi Steve,

    I work for an adventure mapping company called FATMAP ( and we are in the process of putting “epic” long hikes like the GR10 into our map. I’ve written a short summary of the route and we’d love to display a line on our mapping software showing exactly where it goes. Would it be possible to use your GPX data please? It would save me roughly 55 days of work hiking the route with my GPS!



  4. steve says:

    Hi Charlie

    The GPS tracks on my site come from GR-info, so you should contact them. However, I recommend you compare and combine the track with more recent data from If you are interested in the GR11 in Spain which I walked in 2012-14 you will find the GR11 track here.

    best wishes, Steve

  5. Great stuff, thanks for your help Steve. And enjoy France!

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