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How to take a walk on the wild side
on 25 July 2008
As soon as I saw this book, I knew that it would appeal to me. At present there are a great number of similarly themed books, all encouraging the reader to relinquish their place from the sofa and instead to get out into the countryside and experience the places within the pages for themselves. BRITAIN AND IRELAND'S BEST WILD PLACES is perhaps one of the best ways of beginning to do exactly that.
The book is organised into regions, beginning with The West Country, moving upwards throughout Britain before fianlly moving across to Ireland.
Each wild place has details of mapping and travel instructions, plus other useful information. For example, in the Republic of Ireland Somerville details the Nephin Beg mountains. Stating that the walk is a long one - 23 miles - he advises that you should not consider doing the walk solo unless very well experienced. And of course, that you should have all of the proper equipment if you do go on it. At the beginning of each section there is also a lovely old style map of the area, illustrating at a glance where each place is located.
For me, the success and delight of this book is the lay-out. You could easily give it as a gift to someone. Many of the wild places have an accompanying colour picture to tempt you, showing just enough of their allure to wet your appetite. But it is also the way that Somerville writes about the places which captures your imagination. The entry for Woodchester Mansion, for example, brilliantly manages to create the sense of the gothic that Somerville describes. Likewise, his entry for the "Bronte moors" shows how such a desolate and wild place could help to mold the literary imaginations of three young women.
This book is an absolute delight. I am so glad I purchased it. Not only because I love walking and the countryside, but also because I love things which can play on my mind and maybe even ignite a creative flame within. This is a book I shall continually dip into whether at home or going away on holiday - as a way to find those unknown places, this is a must.