Rambling pioneer recognised in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Walker Miles

Walker Miles

The nineteenth century rambler Edmund Seyfang Taylor, who wrote walking guidebooks under the pseudonym “Walker Miles”, has found a place in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 160 years after he was born.

The entry is one of several relating to outdoor leisure and open spaces added to the prestigious publication in 2013 – a year which marks the centenary of the death of Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust.

Born in Camberwell in London on 27 August 1853, Walker Miles wrote around 40 Field-Path Rambles guidebooks covering walks mainly in Surrey and Kent which were published by the family printing and publishing firm he worked for and eventually inherited.

He was an advocate for the opening up of the countryside for those living in the cities, many of whom he said considered it to be "one of the greatest joys of life to get a ‘day off’ for a ramble among the delights of our glorious English countryside”.

After founding the Croydon Rambling Club, he went on to create the Federation of Rambling Clubs with representatives of other London-based clubs, an organisation which eventually became part of the Ramblers.

Walker Miles moved to Godstone, Surrey, a month before his death aged 54 and his grave, marked by a sarsen stone, can be found in the churchyard of St Nicholas’ Church. As the inscription reads, the stone was erected by “Members of the Rambling Clubs of London” – a fitting tribute to a much respected rambler.