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A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth
There are still wild places out there on our crowded planet. Through a series of personal journeys, Dan Richards explores the appeal of far-flung outposts in mountains, tundra, forests, oceans and deserts. These are landscapes that speak of deep time, whose scale can knock us down to size. Their untamed nature is part of their beauty and such places have long drawn the adventurous, the spiritual and the artistic.
For those who go in search of the silence, isolation and adventure of wilderness it is - perhaps ironically - to man-made shelters that they often need to head; to bothies, bivouacs, camps and sheds. Part of the allure of such refuges is their simplicity: enough architecture to keep the weather at bay but not so much as to distract from the natural world.
Following a route from the Cairngorms of Scotland to the fire-watch lookouts of Washington State, from Iceland's 'Houses of Joy' to the Utah desert; frozen ghost towns in Svalbard to shrines in Japan; Roald Dahl's Metro-land writing hut to a lighthouse in the North Atlantic, Richards explores landscapes which have inspired writers, artists and musicians, and asks: why are we drawn to wilderness? What can we do to protect them? And what does the future hold for outposts on the edge?
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What Reviewers Are Saying
There's a special magic in Richards' luminous descriptions of nature and place, but also in the stories he tells . . . Richards has penned a thoughtful and beautifully written meditation on our quest to find spaces in which we can find something unexpected in ourselves and forge a new relationship with the natural world * * Guardian * * Richards' prose is by turns beautiful, funny, evocative and learned, the pages illuminated by lovely, warming footnotes . . . [Richards' voice is] vivid, self-deprecating, literary and very, very funny * * Observer * * Dan Richards is brave, bold, pure of spirit and, on occasion, foolish. In Outpost Dan follows both his father's footsteps and his own heart to explore the furthest possibilities of human habitation, and our interface with a changing wilderness. Intelligent, surreal and always generous, Dan Richards is a Jerome K. Jerome for our set-upon times who bequeaths us that rarest gift - laughter -- KATHARINE NORBURY, author of The Fish Ladder This book will be equally at home in the library of the armchair traveller and the kitbag of the weather-beaten nomad - Dan Richards has created an atlas of adventure for every reader possessed of an intrepid imagination -- NANCY CAMPBELL, author of The Library of Ice Dan Richards is that rare thing, a writer whose way of looking at the world is utterly unique. His new book, Outpost, is shot through with a sense of wonder, an infectious enthusiasm and a surreal wit. Pure joy -- RUPERT THOMSON An incredible book, beautifully written, wild and wickedly funny -- PHILIP HOARE Richards has all the attributes of a memorable travel writer. He is learned, inquisitive, fearless, occasionally foolhardy, determined, sensibly self-deprecating, thoughtful and, perhaps, most usefully, possessor of a dry wit and sharp sense of humour. The perfect armchair travelling companion . . . As well as being an erudite travel book, Outpost is also an adventure book, revelling in the joy of reaching far-flung destinations and the quiet fulfilment of self-exploration in an isolated environment. It's funny, wise, and humble . . . splendid * * Caught by the River * * A melancholic exploration of the increasing impossibility of escape -- STANLEY DONWOOD He writes in a lyrical way that also has an impish humour . . . Cracking stuff and one for anyone who likes well-written travel writing * * NB magazine * * Praise for Climbing Days: Climbing Days is a special book, not quite like anything I have ever read before, and a law unto itself. It's a wayward, funny, warm, wandering, open, inspiring journey back into the lives of two remarkable people, and out into the remarkable landscapes they explored -- ROBERT MACFARLANE