Review published on October 30, 2018.
Scotland is famous for its breath-taking scenery, the fertile lowlands, rolling hills and the much climbed Munroe’s. It has been extensively written about and photographed so finding another route and a narrative that flows from this landscape cannot be easy. Chris Townsend takes an idea that he got from Ribbon Of Wildness by Peter Wright. He wants to walk the spine of his adopted land from the border at Deadland Fell right up to Duncansby Head on the North coast.
A watershed, a divide, between two worlds.
This backbone of the country that follows the line of hills that the water drops away either to the Atlantic or the North Sea is about 700 miles long. It is a tough walk too, crossing moorlands, bogs through forests and or course over the top of mountains at an average height of 450m. At certain points of the route, the line between the two directions of travel that the water goes can be less than 50m or be vast distances apart in the flatter parts of the country.
A trickle begins, running gently downhill, eventually to reach the ocean
This is the first of Townsend’s books that I have read and it is not going to be the last. This thoroughly enjoyable travel book about him walking through Scotland is written at the same gentle pace that he walked at. For him, the adventure is the journey, not the finish and over his route, he has some adventures, gets soaked several times, avoids being blown off a hill, watches the sunset on a perfect evening from his tarp. He has quite a philosophical outlook, reminisces about past walks and contemplates both the independence referendum in Scotland and rues the Brexit vote. We learn about the places that he passes, touching on the history and the wildlife that he sees, but not in an overbearing way. It also has some of the best maps that I have seen in a travel book, the route is clear and unambiguous as it wiggles it’sits across the landscape.
Paul Cheney 4/3
Along the Divide: Walking the Wild Spine of Scotland by Chris Townsend
Sandstone Press Ltd 9781912240227 pbk Sep 2018
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