Described as possibly the world’s most experienced long-distance walker, Chris Townsend returns with a new memoir .
This details his journey across Scotland’s Watershed, which runs between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, a distance of 1,200km or 745 miles.
Townsend, author of 22 books on the outdoors including the award-winning The Backpacker’s Handbook, is no stranger to watershed hiking. Twenty-eight years ago, he slogged 4,800km along the Continental Divide Trail which starts in Canada and ends in Mexico.
Rather than put him off, it left him with a longing to explore more countries in the same way.
The memoir makes a great point of bringing us back to a political context. It is a very self-aware account of how the tides of one’s time cannot be escaped.
Townsend’s walks and reflections are strongly marked by political upheaval, which is largely due to the fact that his journey began before the Independence Referendum of 2014, while he was writing the book after the EU Referendum of 2016.
There is also a strong theme of ecological concern which runs through the book, which prompts Townsend to educational yet interesting ruminations on the changes he sees in the landscape. His narrative weaves together the historical context of the past and the shifting present, reminding us of our place in history, while also paying tribute to those who have shaped the land in the past.
Townsend has an impressive mastery of detail, but rather than boring or sidetracking readers, he employs minutiae to hold our attention. There is a natural and captivating flow in his storytelling, while his palpable passion for his experiences transports readers into sharing his gruelling journey.
A highly recommended read for those who enjoy a bit of adventure.
Along The Divide: Walking The Wild Spine of Scotland, by Chris Townsend, Sandstone Press, £9.99.