EDWARD STANFORD SHORTLIST: Where the Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt

Review published on January 16, 2018.

Living on the south coast we have got used to the wind now. It blows across the Atlantic, up the channel and can vary from a pleasant breeze to a howling gale. Whilst it is a constant feature of life in Dorset, there are a lot of winds around the world that are such a part of the landscape that they have gained a certain amount of notoriety and their own name. Most have heard of the Mistral, the wind that scours the French Provencal landscape as it sweeps down to the Mediterranean, but around Europe that have evocative names such as Sirocco, the Levanter and the Meltemi.

These extremely strong winds, in some cases reaching 200 mph, are caused by a unique combination of natural phenomena; the makeup of the landscape allows a build-up of atmospheric pressure in the high regions that at certain points break free and sweep across a landscape causing damage to property, trees affecting the local population and playing a fundamental part of the myths and legends that make up the culture.

We even have our own named wind that blows across the Pennines called the Helm and it is here that Nick Hunt begins his walks across the European landscapes seeking these winds. Locals give him pointers as to where to walk and the atmospheric details to look for so he can experience it for himself. Next is the Bora; this is a wind that blows from Trieste across Slovenia and down the Croatian coast. He climbs the Alps in search of the Fohen, a wind that can blow north and south through the Alps. His final wind is the famous Mistral, walking towards the coast with the wind behind him along an ancient pilgrimage path.

I really liked this original and interesting book from Nick Hunt, like his first book Walking the Woods and the Water he has a refreshing way of writing about the places he is walking through and the people he encounters on his way. The writing is interesting and he has managed to successfully mix the historical with the metrological whilst still maintaining his self-depreciating humour. It is another really good book from Nick, but if there was one tiny flaw, I would have liked to have heard about the other winds shown on the map at the beginning. I am hoping that is for another book.

Paul Cheney 4/-

Where the Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt
Nicholas Brealey Publishing 9781857886566 hbk Sep 2017

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EDWARD STANFORD SHORTLIST: The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron

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