I love reading books about the climbing, the mountains and nature because they enrich, inform and inspire my time spent outdoors.
It’s cold, it’s nearly Christmas, and we all need a bit of inspiration! So here are some books that have particularly stood out this year.
You’ll find Alex and my reading lists on our Bookshop.org page: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/beyondtheedge supporting local bookshops. Even more great reads can be found at our local Vertebrate Publishing’s website.
William Atkin was a new name to me this year, and I stumbled across his book by accident whilst researching for an article about UK moorland. I was incredibly pleased that I did as reading this book has changed the way I see our moors.
The Moor follows Atkin’s journeys across the moorlands of England, from Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor in the South West, to Northumberland and the Scottish border. It explores topography, literature, history and nature, evoking anyone and everything Atkins encounters along the way: from literary representations of the moor to D of E groups traipsing across Bleaklow in the rain.
Quite possible one of my favourite climbing autobiographies for its humour, honesty and witty drama, this one was a proper page-turner.
Destivelle reflects on her upbringing in Paris, her turbulent relationship with the climbing world, and her incredible climbing achievements, including her solo winter ascents of the Eiger, the Grandes Jorasses and the Matterhorn.
There is a bit of technical climbing terminology in this one, but not so much as to put off a non-climber.
I have both the hard copy and audiobook of this one as it’s especially enjoyable to relisten to favourite sections as you potter about.
In Landmarks Robert MacFarlane meditates on land and language, exploring the people that shape, and are shaped by, the landscapes of the UK and the vocabulary that they use to express it. At the end of each chapter MacFarlane shares his word hoard, and encyclopedia of terms from the South West to the Scottish Isles that evoke feelings, glimmerings and happenings in our landscapes.
I must admit that I quite often struggle to make it through climbing autobiographies, but The Mountain Path doesn’t really feel like an autobiography. Far from the usual ticklist of achievements and acolades, Pritchard refers to it as ‘a pilgrammage of self-discovery’.
In 1998 Paul Pritchard was struck on the head by rockfall whilst climbing the Totem Pole sea stack off Tasmania. This accident left him hemiplegic and marked the start of his second life. Pritchard calls his brain injury the ‘single best thing that has ever happened to [him]’. In The Mountain Path, he reflects upon his partnership with the mountain and the qualities that this has fostered within him to help him meet the challenges of his new life.
Trespass and access has been in the news a lot recently. Reading this book served as a good reminder that it is something worth fighting for!
Hop over the wall for some illicit wild camps and walks! The Book of Trespass blends geography and nature with history and law to illustrate issues around access and ownership in Englands countryside. It’s well-researched, detailed and engaging, with some beautiful images of our countryside and equally beautiful prints of Hayes’ making.
On the Reading List:
I’ll let you know how I get on!
- Wild Winter by John Burns
- Slateheads by Peter Goulding
- Wildwood by Roger Deakin
- The Peregrine by J A Baker
- The Pebbles on the Beach by Clarence Ellis