Cols are thousand-year-old passageways built between valleys, off the beaten path of the main trails which shepherds, merchants, and armies once traversed the lands. Now these cols are a “rambler’s delight.”
Graham Robb explores the wonderment of cols in his new book Cols and Passes of the British Isles. He discovers that there are in fact over 2,000 cols and 105 passes that remain unlisted in Britain’s modern day maps.
“Modern transport effectively erased these crucial passageways from the national consciousness. Their names disappeared even from the most detailed maps. Now, cols are once again becoming noticeable features of the landscape.”
Old is becoming new again. Instagram and Pokemon Go are encouraging people to walk and reexplore lost places.
“To see these cols for the first time is to feel the thrill of a Victorian explorer: the place itself may be known, but the discoverer of cols arrives simultaneously in the present and the past.”
As someone who grew up on the East Coast, I’ve been fascinated by the many rock walls scattered throughout the woods, leftovers from the Civil War. Perhaps they too, are worth exploring.