...I shall let [Anne] Wallace put the case herself, at what I think is necessary length:'As travel in general becomes physically easier, faster, and less expensive, more people want and are able to arrive at more destinations with less unpleasant awareness of their travel process. At the same time the availability of an increasing range of options in conveyance, speed, price, and so forth actually encouraged comparisons of these different modes...and so an increasingly positive awareness of process that even permitted semi-nostalgic glances back at the bad old days...Then, too, although local insularity was more and more threatened...people also quite literally became more accustomed to travel and travellers, less fearful of 'foreign' ways, so that they gradually became able to regard travel as an acceptable recreation. Finally, as speeds increased and costs decreased, it simply ceased to be true that the mass of people were confined to that circle of a day's walk: they could afford both the time and the money to travel by various means and for purely recreational purposes...And as walking became a matter of choice, it became a possible positive choice: since the common person need not necessarily be poor. Thus, as awareness of process became regarded as advantageous, 'economic necessity' became only one possible reading (although still sometimes a correct one) in a field of peripatetic meanings that included 'aesthetic choice'.'It sounds a persuasive case. It is certainly possible that something like the shift in consciousness that Wallace describes may have taken place by the 'end' (as conventionally conceived) of the Romantic period, and influenced the spread of pedestrianism in the 1820s and 1830s; even more likely that such a shift was instrumental in shaping the attitudes of Victorian writing in the railway age, and helped generate the apostolic fervour with which writers like Leslie Stephen and Robert Louis Stevenson treated the walking tour. But it fails to account for the rise of pedestrianism as I have narrated it.
Pedestrianism, [William Bingley] claims, is the most 'useful' mode of travel, 'if health and strength are not wanting.''To a naturalist, it is evidently so; since, by this means, he is enabled to examine the country as he goes along; and when he sees occasion, he can also strike out of the road, amongst the mountains or morasses, in a manner completely independent of all those obstacles that inevitably attend the bringing of carriages or horses.'Bingley has a specific reason here for valuing the combination of freedom and intimacy with one's surroundings enjoyed by the pedestrian, but his rationale is generalisable to other travellers.
I walked slowly on, without envying my companions on horseback: for I could sit down upon an inviting spot, climb to the edge of a precipice, or trace a torrent by its sound. I descended at length into the Rheinthal, or Valley of the Rhine; the mountains of Tyrol, which yielded neither in height or in cragginess to those of Appenzel, rising before me. And here I found a remarkable difference: for although the ascending and descending was a work of some labor; yet the variety of the scenes had given me spirits, and I was not sensible of the least fatigue. But in the plain, notwithstanding the scenery was still beautiful and picturesque, I saw at once the whole way stretching before me, and had no room for fresh expectations: I was not therefore displeased when I arrived at Oberried, after a walk of about twelve miles, my coat flung upon my shoulder like a peripatetic by profession.-William Coxe
[Robert] Newell's recommendation of walking is also interesting:'The best way undoubtedly of seeing a country is on foot. It is the safest, and most suited to every variety of road; it will often enable you to take a shorter track, and visit scenes (the finest perhaps) not otherwise accessible; it is healthy, and, with a little practice, easy; it is economical: a pedestrian is content with almost any accommodations; he, of all travellers, wants but little, 'Nor wants that little long'. And last, though not least, it is perfectly independent.'Newell cites independence, as do a number of the 'first generation' of Romantic walkers I have already surveyed; more striking are his commendation of walking as the safest option, which reflects a very altered perception of the security of travel from that which prevailed in the eighteenth century, and his advocacy of the practical and health benefits of pedestrianism, which against suggests its institutionalisation as a form of tourism and its extension to lower reaches of the middle classes.