Books

The January Man

Christopher Somerville

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.

Britain and Ireland's Best Wild Places

Christopher Somerville

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.

Walking in Ireland

Christopher Somerville

Walking has never been a more popular pastime and nowhere is more beautiful for walkers to explore than Ireland. In this beautifully written and superbly researched guide, Christopher Somerville draws on his very popular column for the Irish Independent, to present 50 of the very best walks in Ireland - from the Nephin Beg Mountains in Mayo to Dingle Way in Kerry. Practical instructions for the walks are married with evocative and informative passages on the history, flora and fauna, culture and topography of the land. Whether it's exploring the Burren in its floral glory or seeing the Walls of Derry, or even sitting at home in your armchair planning your next walk, this book will prove popular with ramblers, holiday makers and anyone who loves the Irish landscape.

Coast: The Journey Continues

Christopher Somerville

The first book of Coast took us on a sweeping clockwise tour of Britain's marine borderlands, where one type of distinctive landscape gives way to the next. In this companion volume we criss-cross the UK and Ireland, looking at our relationship with different regions of our coast. Each chapter looks at a certain stretch of coastline, how areas within that stretch are related, and what that says about our land, our history and our way of life. For example, Chalk to Chalk takes us from Dover to the Isle of Wight and even across the channel, where the substance of the land itself has shaped how we live there. Holyhead to Liverpool mark the boundaries of The Inventive Coast, a hotbed of maritime innovation and industrial progress. Our military history is explored in The Explosive Coast, which takes us from Carlisle to Arran. We learn how the coast created one of the world's greatest cities, London, along The Capital Coast, and The Emerald Coast is a celebration of Ireland's dramatic eastern edge. Many other varied themes and regions are explored in this fascinating guide to our coast. Fully illustrated with glorious photgraphs, there's much to discover where the UK and Ireland meet the sea.

Coast

Christopher Somerville

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.

Biography

Christopher Somerville