A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Inspirational Books

These lists are addictive! As I walk the paths of France and Spain, I've been thinking about the books which have most influenced me and have inspired me to go for long walks. These come to mind:

1. John Hillaby: Journey Through Britain
2. Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Time Of Gifts
3. Patrick Leigh Fermor: Between The Woods And The Water
4. Laurie Lee: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
5. Robert Louis Stevenson: Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes
6. Hilaire Belloc: The Path To Rome
7. George Borrow: Wild Wales
8. Rebecca Solnit: Wanderlust
9. Morris Marples: Shanks's Pony
10. Chris Townsend: The Great Backpacking Adventure

There must be lots I've omitted. Anyone like to share their own suggestions? (There's a book called Mean Feet but I've forgotten the author.) Of course there are dozens more if you include general travel writing (Eric Newby, Jonathan Raban etc etc).


Phreerunner said...

Showell Styles wrote a book called 'Backpacking in Alps and Pyrenees' that inspired my trips in the 1980s. There were no detailed route descriptions but we took photocopied extracts and enjoyed daily 'readings', comparing the author's story with our own experience of those wonderful days.

Phreerunner said...

It is possible to be inspired by a guidebook! As I was this year - see:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Welcome back to blogland dear old S W!! How is the plantafacilitis? Better I hope. Shall have to have a think about the book thing but when I saw your name high up on my blog list I just had to welcome you back into my life immediately. Have missed you!!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Have had a think about influential books- I think the two I return to most are Wilfred Thesiger's "Arabian Sands" and Robert Byron's "The Road to Oxiana". Both were written well before the second world war but have been reissued in the recent past. Both are magical and make me want to go to places, some of which no longer exist in the form they took in those days. I have been to a few of the places (Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent for example) but so many of the places they talk about are inaccesible and that makes them all the more exciting I think. The Bedu, as Thesiger talks about them, no longer exist - the twentieth century has caught them up - not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!
Hope that you've had a wonderful walk and that we are going to hear all about it.
'Mean Feet' is by John Waite and is indeed superb. I borrowed it from the library years ago, but recently found it in our excellent second hand bookshop, along with 'Shanks' Pony', both set me back quite a bit.

I have three anthologies of writing about walking, all recommended: 'John Hillaby's Walking In Britain', 'The Winding Trail' edited by Roger Smith (and featuring Showell Styles) and the 'Vintage Book of Walking' edited by Duncan Minshull.

I'd add anything by Hamish Brown (Mountain Walk, Groats End Walk, Great Walking Adventure). And 'Clear Waters Rising' by Nicholas Crane.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Firbank `I bought a mountain` Not a mountain walkers book but a great read.

The Solitary Walker said...

Grassweaver - still suffering the plantar fasciitis. It´s a miracle I´ve been able to walk (or lurch) nearly 900km.

Thanks all for the additions to my book list. I remembered the Nicholas Crane the day after I posted. Another much less well known book also comes to mind (probably the first 'walking' book I ever browsed): 'Striding Through Yorkshire' by J Arthur Brown (I think that´s the name)- not without its purple passages, and enthusiastically written. He calls walking 'tramping' like they do in New Zealand.

The Solitary Walker said...

I mean Alfred J Brown! Arthur Brown (The Crazy World Of) was a maniacal pop group I distantly remember.

Dominic Rivron said...

The outdoor books I keep going back to are WH Murray's Mountaineering in Scotland and Undiscovered Scotland.