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Space Below My Feet [Paperback]

Gwen Moffat
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Nov 2013

In 1945, when Gwen Moffat was in her twenties, she deserted from her post as a driver and dispatch rider in the Army and went to live rough in Wales and Cornwall, climbing and living on practically nothing. She hitch-hiked her way around, travelling from Skye to Chamonix and many places in between, with all her possessions on her back, although these amounted to little more than a rope and a sleeping bag.

When the money ran out, she worked as a forester, went winkle-picking on the Isle of Skye, acted as the helmsman of a schooner and did a stint as an artist's model. And always there were the mountains, drawing her away from a 'proper' job.

Throughout this unique story, there are acutely observed accounts of mountaineering exploits as Moffat tackles the toughest climbs and goes on to become Britain's leading female climber - and the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (7 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780226322
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780226323
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gwen Moffat's novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. After six years' service in the Land Army and the ATS during World War Two and a brief spell as property mistress in a Brighton theatre, she became a mountain guide (the first qualified woman). She climbed professionally for twenty years, at the same time learning to write. Her best-selling autobiography: "Space Below my Feet" was followed by more non-fiction books including one on Mountain Rescue, another on conservation, and then her publisher, Livia Gollancz, persuaded her to turn to crime.
She has used her own experiences in her books. Meeting poachers and self-confessed killers while working as a ranch hand in the Montana Rockies provided the material for "Grizzly Trail" which featured the illegal killing of bears. But where Moffat is strong on abuse she balances evil with retribution; in her books paedophiles and wife batterers suffer equally and more than they would have done in the days of capital punishment. As the Sunday Times said of "Snare": "A tall tale, expertly told, rising to chill heights of wanton evil and quietly disquieting private justice...."
She is an author of place - Death Valley, the Oregon coast, the Scottish Highlands - and a canny opportunist, allowing the environment itself to produce surprises as when, in "Cue the Battered Wife", the bird watcher is showing his holiday slides to his family: small sons bored stiff until the moment a human hand appears in the eagles's nest....
Twenty years ago Moffat discovered the Northern Pennines: a country most conducive to murder with its abandoned mines ( their shafts not always plugged), the little black tarns in wastes of heather, the secret villages clustered below a looming escarpment. Wildness above, apparent tranquillity below, but soft summer evenings and village greens puts Moffat in mind of Sherlock Holmes' dictum that "the vile alleys of London take second place to the dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside."
In "Dying for Love" the beautiful old lime kilns serve a more sinister purpose than was dreamed of when they were designated Protected Buildings. As one character put it: "Small children were sent out to play unsupervised in the long light evenings. Their big sisters walked home in the owl light, and occasionally throughout the border country one or two of them never made it home. People went missing in winter too but everything was so much easier in summer, warmth indulging fantasy and inducing lust...."
Moffat lives in Cumbria with a very supportive cat. She indulges in fell walking, listening to music while cooking, and reviewing crime novels for the e-magazine SHOTS.

Product Description


"As a story of climbing and compulsive love of mountains, Space Below my Feet is magnificent." - The Observer" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A classic mountaineering memoir by one of the UK's foremost female climbers.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gwen Moffat was Britain's first female mountain guide. Moreover, in the austere world of post-war Britain where women were expected to stay home and get married, Gwen's Bohemian attitude was very much against the norm - in fact she was 20 years ahead of her time.

Her autobiography "Space Below My Feet" was out of print for many years and it was long over-due being republished.
Like so many people later, Gwen just lived for climbing. The book is fascinating, not only for the tales of climbing and mountains, but also just how different her lifestyle was for the times. Dossing in climbing barns and sleeping under hedges was not lady-like behavour in 1947!
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much loved book rediscovered 9 Feb 2012
Many years ago I borrowed this book from the library and loved it. Ever since I have wanted a copy for myself and now, with 2nd-hand books being advertised through Amazon, I have found one! It is Gwen Moffat's autobiographical account of how she discovered rock climbing, her adventures in the mountains, both in the UK and abroad, and life as a mountain guide; but it contains more than just climbing, describing her love life, her family, her two marriages, her triumphs and disappointments, her struggles to earn a living, but above all her love of the Welsh mountains.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars second sight 24 Mar 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book shortly after it came out. I thoroughly enjoyed it then and having just finished it 2 days ago thorouhly enjoyed it again. Gwen Moffat lets one know what is passing through her mind, which makes it easier to understand the climbs she has done. An excellent book and very well written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A girl ahead of her time 13 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really interesting book not only for the climbing but as a depiction of a time (post war Britain). The author led a life so entirely different from most women of the time that she must have encountered many difficult reactions and attitude. Her dynamism is extraordinary.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 1 Oct 2009
By Heavy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a must for all female mountaineers,and all the single selfish males a great story (true) of how hard it was as to be a single parent/mountaineer in Britain. Great stories by a marvellous woman, get it and read it, a must!
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