NOT that he will be at all aware of it, but I have rather dogged the steps of Borders-based writer and serial book festival founder Alistair Moffat. He was the administrator of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe when I started reviewing shows and gigs there in 1980, and he was director of programmes at Scottish Television when I presented one of them in the middle of the following decade.

A major part of his writing life – and probably the least contentious of it – has been chronicling the history and landscape of the Scottish Borders where his family roots lie. There are many miles and differences between his Kelso hinterland and my own ancestry near Melrose, as any Borderer will attest, but nonetheless his works have found a home on my family’s bookshelves.

So I have been an early devourer of his new book, The Hidden Ways: Scotland’s Forgotten Roads, published last weekend – and the subject of a feature in the Sunday Herald by Barry Didcock. Although Moffat does not acknowledge it, the inspiration for the book has clearly been the new wave of writing about the natural world around us, particularly the work of Robert Macfarlane and specifically his 2012 best-seller The Old Ways, in which Macfarlane walked Britain’s ancient pilgrimage paths and historic tracks.

As Macfarlane was born the year that Moffat began working at the Fringe, it is perhaps not surprising that he appears the more robust, if novice, outdoorsman in print. Moffat’s complaints of hardship on his journeys are domestic by comparison and he makes no pretence about the amount of driving and use of taxis involved in researching the new book. If at times that means he comes across as a bit of a wuss, the corollary is that people may see following in his footsteps as an attainable ambition. As he wants The Hidden Ways to be the start of a project to bring the old drove roads and pilgrim routes back into use, with the help of everything from new signage to mobile phone apps, that is all in keeping with his aim.

However I am sure I will be far from the only reader who finds they have already walked much of the ground that Moffat “discovers”. Four of his ten “roads” are in that Borderland, and another is through the heart of Edinburgh, past the Fringe shop (and headquarters in his day) on the Royal Mile. I can add large chunks of his “River Road” along the Tay in Perthshire and his pilgrimage path across the East Neuk of Fife to my own perambulations in recent years. Of course this only made The Hidden Ways all the more interesting to read, with the landscape Moffat describes already familiar, and I fancy my experience will be shared by as many potential readers as those inspired to follow in his footsteps.

Really though, it is not as geography but cultural history that Moffat’s book recommends itself. Dedicated to his father, its discourse often springs from his family background as well as functioning as personal memoir. That is obviously true of the Edinburgh chapter, in which he lays fair claim to reanimating the capital’s High Street in his time at the Fringe, but it is also the case on those Borders pathways, which he calls “The Summer Roads”, used by hawkers and shepherds as well and itinerant poets and musicians. I was brought up on a housing estate on former farmland to the north-west edge of Edinburgh, where, remarkably, the same builder is still constructing new houses nearly 70 years after my parents became the first people in either of their families to own their own home. But, like Moffat, I remember door-to-door knife-grinders and the annual visit of the Onion Johnnie on his bicycle in beret and Breton jumper as characters from my childhood. When I have mentioned such things to my son (born 1992) he is, understandably, incredulous.

If only as evidence that I am not a fanciful old rogue, I’ll be suggesting he reads The Hidden Ways, and if you are nearer my own vintage or older, you will also find it time well spent.

The Hidden Ways: Scotland’s Forgotten Roads by Alistair Moffat (Canongate, £20)