The new offering in gestalten’s Wanderlust series is a guide book to make the eyes widen and the soul sing with possibility. Indeed, it is not simply a guide book at all. Alex Roddie’s writing shows Britain’s long-distance walks at their finest with the level of superb photography from local experts and veteran outdoors folk expected from a book of this kind – just as at home on a coffee table as in your wildest adventure-plotting dreams. The mountain and coastal moments captured are sure to whet your appetite for adventure close to home.
Main image: On the Affric-Kintail Way | Credit: Paul Webster, Wanderlust British & Irish Isles, gestalten 2023
Whether you’re new to long-distance walking and seeking guidance, or a seasoned walker simply suffering with a lack of inspiration, I’m confident this book has a trail to suit you.
Its pages are packed with trails from the “jewel in the crown of Assynt” in the Scottish Highlands to a beloved but challenging walk along the South Coast of England, made famous by fossil hunters and moving memoirs. Follow the advice of the authors and you could find yourself crossing England on Wainwright’s well-trodden Coast to Coast, discovering Ireland’s most accessible mountains, treading a rebel’s trail through Wales, or circumnavigating our first national park on the path to your own adventure tale.
If you don’t have weeks on end to take time out on the trail, there’s a good range of distances covered. For example, the Welsh 3000s can be done in a single – if tough – mountain day. Likewise, the guides to longer trails include a ‘highlights’ section so day trippers can also feel inspired to get outdoors as well as informed on the best views in each area covered.
While there are plenty of trails suitable for newcomers to long-distance walking (The Dartmoor Way visits many villages for resupply along the route and Causeway Coast Way can be tackled over a few nights, for example) this book also includes epics you may not have thought possible on our tiny islands. From the perfect mountain symmetry to be admired on the short but spicy Suilven Circuit to an almost-month-long escape on the Cambrian Way that carves down the entirety of Wales, there are challenges to be relished here.
Inspiration aside, each trail guide offers more than a basic step-by-step directive. Wanderlust British and Irish Isles is packed full of advice covering everything from the route basics and terrain to the hard-won and refined tips. Written by experienced mountaineer, veteran backpacker and longterm contributor to The Great Outdoors magazine, Alex Roddie, this knowledge has been amassed by walking these very trails and can be trusted.
It includes the best season in which to walk each trail, gear and clothing requirements, navigation needs, safety advice for the specific area, vital resupply and water source information as well as the additional – but insightful – accommodation and transport tips.
But, with illustrations and notes on the local flora and fauna, these guides go beyond the usual gear and travel tips. Some offer ‘bonus’ close by paths or peaks worth venturing away from the actual trail for while others share cultural commentary, geological details and historical insight.
Occasionally, the author and co-editor adds his own personal tale or anecdote from the trail. Whether healing from the loss of a loved one or learning to accept bailing from the trail, it’s clear this selection of long-distance walks can be life-changing.
I’ve personally poured over this book during the dark evenings of winter, using it to plot my next escapes into the great outdoors. From the Highlands to the islands by way of beaches and beallachs, each section offers all of the information you need to walk the most beloved long-distance trails in Britain in a beautifully-presented package.
Now, it’s just up to you to pick your path, plot your route, gear up and step foot out of your front door.
Wanderlust – British and Irish Isles is published by gestalten (£40, hardback).
When contributors to The Great Outdoors aren’t out walking, some like to relax with a good book. Read their outdoor book reviews and discover your next adventurous bedtime story.