SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2017
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again – a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket. After teenage rifts it was walking that brought us closer as father and son; and this ‘ghost’ of Dad has been walking at my elbow since his death, as I have ruminated on his great love of walking, his prodigious need to do it – and how and why I walk myself.
The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather.
This exquisitely written account of the British countryside not only inspires us to don our boots and explore the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, but also illustrates how, on long-distance walks, we can come to an understanding of ourselves and our fellow walkers. Over the hills and along the byways, Christopher Somerville examines what moulded the men of his father’s generation – so reticent about their wartime experiences, so self-effacing, upright and dutiful – as he searches for ‘the man inside the man’ that his own father really was.
Storm-battered headlands, hidden waterfalls, tumbledown cottages, the ruins of haunted chapels deep in forgotten woods, medieval Green Men, old mines and quarries being recaptured by nature, rusting sea-forts tottering on sandbanks ...
Britain and Ireland are full of wild places, some remote, many often astonishingly close to home. Christopher Somerville has travelled through fields and green lanes, in forests and mountains and on lonely coasts, seeking out his favourite 500 untamed treasures. This book will show you how everyone can discover a piece of the wild for themselves.
Accompanying the BBC series, Coast is not only a superbly illustrated celebration of Britain's coastal areas but a practical guide to all that they have to offer.
The first part of the book is divided into the 12 coastal regions as featured in the programme, with lavish photography, maps and evocative essays. The second part is a region-by-region reference of places, people, activities, natural history, historic events and fascinating facts all clearly laid out to help you plan your own trip.
Whether destined for the coffee table, your reference library or the car, Coast takes you there with charm and style.