Essential reading for the walking/mountain enthusiast...
1) Clear Waters Rising - Nicholas Crane (The Nicholas Crane of BBC series, Coast)
After studying a map of Europe the author realises that he walk a watershed line from the north-west tip of Spain all the way to Bucharest. Crane’s journey takes two years during which time he crosses five mountain ranges, becomes friends with an umbrella, scale Mont Blanc, meets a hugely diverse range of people, takes lessons from the Romans and puts his marriage to the test. Crane’s determination even when facing challenges such as 100 mph winds, 100 year old maps and a bear makes the Rambling Hikers Three Peaks Challenge seem like a walk in the park.
2) The Art of Travel – Alain de Botton (Not of Coast fame)
While the entire book comes highly recommended it is specifically chapter 6 ‘On the Sublime’ that is relevant to the Rambling Hikers. De Botton takes Edmund Burke as his ‘guide’ and travels to Mount Sinai claiming he set out in order to be made to feel “small”. He writes brilliantly and goes some way to explaining that which is otherwise inexplicable.
“The perfect antidote to those guides that tell us what to do when we get there, The Art of Travel tries to explain why we really went in the first place – and helpfully suggests how we might be happier on our own journeys.”
3) East of the Mountains – David Guterson
Possibly my favourite novel. Ben Givens sets out on his life’s last hike having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He resolves to leave his home in Seattle with his dogs and travel to the place where he was happiest with no intention of returning. His journey takes the reader back in time to Givens’ youth, a place “of silent canyons where he hunted birds, of august peaks he had once ascended, of apples newly plucked from trees and of vineyards in the foothills of the Apennines.” Guterson’s love of the landscape and his protagonist’s relationship to it makes the reader want to get out from under a roof and into the big outdoors.
4) As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee
“The story of what happened when a young man left home” – Laurie Lee leaves his Cotswolds home to find adventure, finding that London offered him nothing he sets sail for Spain with nothing but his violin and “gracias”. By the conclusion of the work he’s walked the length of the Iberian peninsula, surviving by busking on street corners and made friends throughout the country. In As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Lee writes of his stay in a Spanish fishing village which he calls "Castillo." The real town is Almuñécar. In 1988 the citizens of Almuñécar erected a statue in Lee's honour, such was the favour with which the Spanish looked upon the author. Lee shows that preparation isn’t everything, his enthusiasm and willingness to keep an open mind are of a much higher value.
If you have read them let us know or any suggestions on books that we should all be reading?
Hugh (Rambling Member)