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on 24 May 2014
This morning, looking west in Sainsbury's car park I saw a rainbow and exulted as I recognised the 42 degrees and antisolar point. 42 degrees is just over four extended fists widths according to Mr Gooley, so imagine the humorous looks I received from early morning shoppers as I made Dalek-at-a-funk-disco arm movements to calculate the angle!

A crack in the sky displayed picture-postcard beams of light across a bright-green grass hill in the distance while a modest sleepy group of travellers head for the entrance in a bid to start the bank holiday before anyone else.

Turning to my wife I said "It's going to rain, take your time" and I grabbed my copy of "The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs" opened the car window a tad and began reading with anticipation.

It wasn't long before light taps on the car roof and windscreen grew into a throng of pouring rain. With a smug-know-it-all grin on my face I watched as roof-racked car owners struggled with tarpaulins and the faces of grumpy young children contorted as they squashed their noses up against the glass clearly not jubilant at the prospect of a day in the car rather than on the beach.

Had I been twenty years younger, I too would be packing the car and preparing for a sodden day at the beach so truly I feel for the people in my morning’s entertainment. Twenty years ago navigation on land, sea and the air was an important part of my business and I had become so dependent on technology that looking at a cloud, flower or even cows in a field to tell direction or pending weather would have been a ridiculous idea.

The problem with technology is it leaves no puzzles unsolved so why look anywhere else? Before I read any of Mr Gooley’s books I would have described my own pitiful natural navigation tools as mere tricks. This book demonstrates the knowledge our ancestors took for granted and used for accurate and reliable understanding of direction and weather, and all without a battery.

In Crocodile Dundee the hero grabs Wally’s arm for a glimpse of his wrist watch so he can show off to the reporter by giving an accurate estimation of the time. Imagine being able to do this without cheating any time of day or night, to use everything from animal and plant to the landscape in front of you? Furthermore, imagine being able to deduce during the same glimpse the direction you are facing and what weather to expect? Granted none of this is least not until you understand why and how which is the purpose of this book.

Mr Gooley speaks to his readers as equals. His focus is on facts you can understand from your surroundings to tell the imminent weather, time passing and how to find your way. This means he covers a wide selection of subjects. Consequently, I needed support to help identify trees, wild flowers, mosses, mushrooms and lichens and found the Collins "Complete Guides to British..." "Wild Flowers" and "Trees" most helpful. There are others in the series such as birds and animals too. Collins Complete Guides provide a useful visual reference with an index of common and Latin names and make an excellent companion to this book.

Mr Gooley has given us an insight into total natural navigation and the comprehension of surrounding conditions. A few subjects warrant books of their own, but nevertheless this book remains a reassuring compendium of serviceable clues.
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on 8 May 2014
I'm quite a few chapters in already and can see this is a great source of "I didn't know that... or that.". Tristan's collected together so many facts and anecdotes about the landscape in which we live and walk that you'll never be far from learning something new or adding to your own collection of facts to share when out walking.

Reading this book is like looking at the stars with a telescope for the first time or even cleaning dirty glasses - you see so much more and in greater clarity too.

While, hopefully, we'll never need some of the clues he presents in order to make life or death decisions, we will all gain a richness and deeper understanding from being able to see in the landscape a myriad of stories recorded in tracks or subtle changes or oddities or the unexpected.

I thoroughly recommend this book - your walks outdoors will never be the same again and you'll become the most sort after walking companion or, depending on your friends, you may become the one people drift away from!

I'd guess this will make a great present for friends and family too.
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on 15 May 2014
It is rare that I come across a book that completely changes the way I experience the outdoors, but that's exactly what this one has done. Think: Sherlock Holmes goes for a walk.

The book is a nice mixture of facts and unusual anecdotes as we are taken from the countryside, via the city to the jungle and back again. I rattled through it quickly but it is so packed with new information I've started re-reading it already in a hope to take it all in. This summer is going to be fun, enjoy!
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on 15 August 2014
This book should be fascinating. I read about it in the Metro and thought must read it. But rather like a walk through thick overgrowth, this can be at times slow, sometimes lose the footpath and yet you keep going knowing there is always the chance to find something round the corner that stuns you. Tristan is a survivalist, if that is a word, able to get around without a map, compass or anything other than what nature supplies. And that is the fascination in this book. It even helped me find a rainbow recently. I knew there would be one, then I remembered what I had read about the sun, rain and rainbows. And yet there is something missing. Maybe I have not reached the Wow corner yet, but rather like a track where the fern has turned brown it is dry. There is something of the look how clever I am about the book. Adding personal anecdotes in should enliven rather than stall yet for some reason it does. I suspect this book will be a ramble rather than a stroll, will take a while to complete but when I do I suspect I will be grateful. And lets face it,if we know our trees we want to know what side the moss grows or what side has a thicker canopy, it is always useful to know which direction our weather comes from, or what flowers prefer dry to damp soil, it adds to our enjoyment around us, and this does that... Do read it, because I suspect like a canal footpath walk whilst some will admire the flowers on the river bank so others will enjoy the sight of a former factory falling into disrepair There will be something for everyone just not everything.
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on 11 May 2014
I'm half way through and am just about to order two copies as presents - it is that good. Yesterday I was out for a walk and was spotting new things about trees that I'd passed hundreds of times, as explained by this book. Tristan's a bit like Sherlock - seeing details that others missed but this book shows how you can find them too. From using nettles as archaeological clues to finding north from moss and the stars to the geometry of rainbows - so much is covered. I've always been interested in this topic and kept my eyes on the sky and ground but still reading The Walker's Guide have learnt masses - and its all in a very readable form that you could rush through if you didn't want to absorb each idea.

A must read for anyone heading outdoors, whether by land or sea.
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on 1 September 2015
Enough useful and interesting information, but (for me) the authorial style is too sententious, too long-winded, making it difficult to keep reading as I was continually irritated! Suggest anyone thinking of buying the book tries checking out a few pages first: after all, that could just be my own reaction!
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on 17 September 2014
Answers everything you didn't know, nor even thought of, when last you went country walking. Essential for lovers of the outdoors who want to interpret the landscapes around them. You'll never look at a tree the same again.
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on 16 May 2014
Tristan Gooley presents his formidable knowledge of the outdoors in delicious, fact-laden nuggets. By not bundling too many topics together and through an accessible format, he brings the information alive and it is inspiring, humbling and exciting to read of both the small signs and the huge patterns in nature that I had mostly overlooked. With his usual dry humour and love of extremes, the walkers guide is a lively read that had me first planning a walking weekend, and second making a list of friends to give it to.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 4 November 2015
An excellent book. Some chapters are more interesting than others, but I would be very surprised if you came away from reading this book without learning something new. If you're at all into hiking and the outdoors I would definitely recommend giving this book a read.
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on 22 June 2015
It's not quite a one star book. I managed to read it on holiday and I learned some things about the relative positions of the moon and the sun in the sky.

On the other hand:
It's a very narrow focus. It's not just it doesn't feel like the Scottish countryside is taken into account, it doesn't address Yorkshire either. I think it might be invaluable in Sussex.

Ok it's mostly Scottish relevance but I was getting irritated there was nothing about avalanches. Then two frankly superficial pages on the subject irritated me even more. I'd have thought as the deadliest UK avalanche on record took place in Lewes in Sussex he might have shown a little more interest

The book's careless. There's a calculation to let you work out the phase of the moon on any date from a single remembered date. He misses out a stage in the calculation. It's pretty obvious what it should be but still... He also talks about a beach on Delos made up of flakes of marble from its many temples. That sounded silly so I checked. Analysis of beaches on Delos show they contain flakes of marble from temples - a somewhat less spectacular claim.

The prize crass moment came when he criticised a village woman in Borneo for throwing non-biodegradable rubbish in the river. He's flown 14,000 miles to get there and while there wrecks a motor bike and doesn't explain how he disposes of it. Who's the real environmental wrecker?

The book's poorly illustrated. If you want to see what he's talking about he suggests you buy a series of Collins handbooks. Well, bless him!

Finally I got so bored with the constant references to the clients on his courses. Poor sods!
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