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Books to celebrate the Outdoors, with the London Mountain Film Festival

When LoveReading was asked to curate a selection of books for the London Mountain Film Festival 2021 we readily accepted the challenge! A chance to source some new, inspiring reads - and it gave us the welcome opportunity to work with specialist independent publishers and imprints. 

The London Mountain Film Festival, now in its second year, is a celebration of adventure and the outdoors. Taking place again online, the festival is screening over 40 world-class adventure films, plus interviews with film-makers & authors, all over an exhilarating fortnight this May.

‘I’m excited, honoured, and grateful to all the filmmakers, authors, and athletes who have trusted us with their incredible work,’ says festival director Greg Hackett. ‘LMFF Virtual is an intense two-week online celebration of that wonderful space where the human spirit embraces the challenges of the natural world.’

‘We seek out films and books that touch everyone – not just those already familiar with whatever sport or activity is being highlighted. We hope that everyone will get involved in the spirit of the festival, get their friends and family involved, vote for their favourite films, and most importantly get inspired to have their own adventures!’

The last 12 months have seen us all turn to the therapeutic benefits of nature and the outdoors. We've dusted down our bikes, taken up running, tried wild swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking.....and walking has become one of our top social activities! As restrictions relax take some inspiration from our festival reads. A showcase exploring astonishing human endeavour, from ultra-running to high altitude climbing. Books with magnificent photography in a joyous celebration and respect of our world. Inspiring personal stories and guides to explore our own connection with nature. And many of our books include practical tips to plan your own adventure or post-lockdown challenge. You can find a full review for all our books in the links below. We are delighted to bring you our recommended adventure reads for LMFF Bookfest 2021.

I joined our contributing authors for a quick chat at the virtual festival bar...

How to Run a Marathon - the Go-To Guide for Anyone and Everyone by Vassos Alexander : All the essential technical advice and insider knowledge to help you succeed in your marathon quest.

The pandemic has encouraged many of us to become runners. Are we all really capable of running a marathon??!  I can pretty much guarantee that everybody has a marathon in them. It’s not easy – I’m not saying everyone’s got an easy marathon in them – but the fact of it being difficult is sort of the point. It’s such a lovely and iconic challenge.

There are almost no exceptions. If you can get yourself round a parkrun – run, jog or walk 3 miles – then you can, with some training, attempt and finish a marathon. Just start slowly - walk-running is fine, it’s a thing! - and gradually increase the mileage starting and ending at your own front door. 

Training for a marathon takes a lot of time. Are there any shortcuts or is it hours and hours of running?  It’s really important to celebrate all the training. Don’t resent it, revel in it. Elite athletes talk about process over results. The marathon at the end of your 16 week training plan is merely the cherry on the icing on the cake - a 26.2 mile party for the shiny new you! The training is where it’s at. Plus it’s not that much really, and it’s massively worth it. 

Good advice! So it must be emotional when you cross that finish line... I’m a father to three terrific children. When each of them came into the world, I experienced a deep sense of contentment that stuck around for weeks. It seemed like everything was going to be ok and nothing could burst my private bubble of joy.  When I completed my first marathon, I felt that same elation crossing the finishing line. Even as I mildly convulsed in the car on the way home. 

Did lockdown reveal any hidden talents?  Erm....

No. Not me either....So now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure?  As soon as regulations (and work and family life) permit, you’ll find me running gleefully up a muddy fell. A Bob Graham Round (42 Lakeland peaks in 24 hours) is probably top of my very long list...

Good luck with that! Lastly, who's around your campfire? Emil Zatopek (legendary runner and human being, he was my specialised subject on mastermind), Mother Teresa (obvs), William Shakespeare (obvs), Sage Maharishi Patanjal (father of yoga), my wife Caroline (any camp fire is more fun with her around it).

Read a full review of How to Run a Marathon and you can catch Vassos in conversation with fellow ultra-runner Damian Hall at the London Mountain Film Festival. 

Grounded by Ruth Allen : Explore your relationship with Nature

Do you think the pandemic has reset our relationship with nature?  The optimist in me wants to believe so. I hope that many people will have found a new found love for the outdoors during the pandemic when so many other things were off the agenda, but will this be for the majority of people? And will new habits fall by the wayside? I don’t know. I want to believe! But many people will still not have had good access to green spaces this pandemic and may therefore have seen no change in their relationship to nature. And does a new relationship with nature predict pro-environmental and conservation behaviours that benefits all of us including nature? Again, I don’t know. I worry not.

We took great comfort in your #OurGroundedWinter initiative - what kept you grounded this winter?  Thank you! I think the success to having a grounded winter of any kind (pandemic year or not) is accepting winter for what it is. It is darker, it is colder, it is harder. This is true for many species. We have to find ways to weather it and not compound our own suffering. For me, if I can keep getting outside a bit, keeping seeking daylight, but also surrender to the quietening that winter brings then I find I fare fairly well. Winter is an invitation to take the pressure off goal achievement, to change your schedule around to make the most of the shorter days, to rest. 

Tell us how we can 're-wild' ourselves... Pay attention and notice the changes that happen to all of life on this living planet every day.....Seek meaningful connection with the other-than-human world, not just contact measured in hours. Let yourself be moved by the natural world.....Live more intuitively and instinctively – wildly.

Now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure?  I had to get to the mountains. I have just got back from a long-weekend in the Lake District walking in the fells, swimming in the lakes. I’m a mountain person and this was imperative. I think the rhythm of my year will be getting into the hills as much as possible and reconnecting with that part of myself that’s been on hold for a year. I long for the Cairngorms

That sounds bliss! Tell me, who's around your campfire?  Nan Shepherd, of course. I would want to talk about our shared love of her mountains. But to be honest, anyone would do! I am sick of hearing my own voice, my own thoughts. I would like to just drift off in a camp chair listening to the excited babble of others. That would feel special. Just to feel the warmth of others sharing their stories. I am not a storyteller, but as a therapist I love listening to other people’s.

Read our review of Grounded & hear more when Ruth talks to Lizzie Carr in the London Mountain Film Festival

50 Ways to Cycle the World by Belén Castello, Tristan Bogaard : Fifty awesome cycling experiences from across the globe

50 Ways is a gorgeous book, the photographs are stunning and the stories are so entertaining. Did you have great fun creating it? So great! Creating this book throughout the difficult and weird year we’ve all been through was a huge relief and gave us the motivation we needed to get through. We’ve had the honor to meet all these wonderful human beings who’ve gone to great lengths to find meaning in life, and the pleasure of hearing their stories privately. That alone made this book such a special experience. We hope 50 Ways will now lay the motivation for a lot of its readers to try out a journey by bike themselves!

Tell us about your most intrepid cycle. All of our journeys by bike have been intrepid in their own ways, but discovering two of Central Asia’s countries–Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan–really opened our eyes to the differences between the world we grew up in and the one we cycled through there. It humbled us tremendously and we can’t wait to return to discover more of that intriguing cluster of countries.

Cycling has been extraordinarily popular through lockdown and many people will now feel more confident in packing up their panniers and hitting the road. Any recommendations for a great cycling route in the UK? How special is that, right? In documentaries about earth and nature it’s sometimes said that every now and then a catastrophe is needed to bring way for new life, and it seems the pandemic has done just that for cycling. For those who can’t wait to get on the saddle in the UK, we really recommend cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. Cyclists we’ve met and who’ve cycled the whole route have told us they absolutely loved it. Another highlight is the entire Scottish west coast–watch out for the midges though!

Gosh. I better get in training! So now travel restrictions are lifting, have you plans for your next adventure? We’re thrilled to discover the Balkans this summer and hope to cycle Greece and parts of Turkey as well.

And tell us who's around your campfire?  No doubt we’d love to cycle and sit around the campfire with Greta Thunberg. She’s such a champ!

You can hear Harriet Osborne interview Belén & Tristan at the London Mountain Film Festival, May 2021.

Structured Chaos - The Unusual Life of a Climber by Victor Saunders : An honest and humorous account of a lifetime dedicated to mountaineering. 

After almost 50 years a climber, what stands out as your greatest achievement?  That is a fairly easy one to answer, being still keen to climb after all this time and having discovered that climbing is about the process and not just the goals. By analogy, if the initial goal at school was to pass exams in English, the big benefit (for some people at least) is the ensuing passion for literature.

Any unconquered peaks on your wish list?   Lots, but I have to modify the list continually as I grow older and even more feeble!  The local classic climbs in Chamonix are high on my list and some Himalayan summits too (but I am not permitted to divulge those!) 

Assuming you even want to leave Chamonix, now travel restrictions are lifting, where might you head for your next adventure?   I hope to get back to the Himalayas later this year. Can't reveal our plans yet. But also, I want to return to Sheffield; I really miss rock climbing in the Peak District.

Who's around your campfire?   There are a lot of people who I enjoy spending time with. My (more) regular climbing partners of course, but also my family who I do not see enough of, especially Hugo, my son, and Adam, my half brother. Perhaps the one person I have not shared a rope with and would happily spend many hours listening to is Luca Signorelli, who is more a polymath than a climber. Luca is from Turin and conversation with him is like fencing with sparklers. No subjects are off limits.

Victor is pictured here with his friend and climbing partner, Mick Fowler, on the summit of Sersank in the Indian Himalaya. You can hear them both in conversation at the London Mountain Film Festival

Limitless - An Ultrarunner's Story of Pain, Perseverance and the Pursuit of Success by Mimi Anderson : Be inspired by Mimi as she takes on the hurdles and hardships of triathlon.

Ultrarunning sounds exhausting - how do you maintain the mental strength to keep on going? It is exhausting but also fun! My mental strength has become stronger over the years of running around the world. I know that at some point I’m going to feel mentally and physically exhausted so I have a picture in my mind of my family waiting for me at the finish line (they are never there!) cheering me on with me running towards them with my arms open and held high above my head. That image focuses my mind enabling me to continue. 

I bet they'll make an effort now! But triathlon is a serious challenge - three quite different disciplines plus transitions and new kit not to mention jelly legs! Give us a quick overview of the skills you need.  I love new kit so that wasn’t a problem!! I never dreamt that I would ever train for a triathlon as I had a fear of water so my first hurdle was overcoming my fear.  I had to learn how to do front crawl - not easy and very technical. My first lesson was literally blowing bubbles in the water, I really was starting from scratch. Secondly I had to get to grips with a road bike, skinny tyres and cycling fast scared me (especially downhill), then I had to learn to cope with clip-in shoes (terrifying). The running should have been my best discipline but unfortunately after America I could only run once or twice a week - short distances so I was never going to be fast! (Not that I’m competitive!) The 4th discipline in Triathlon and definitely a required skill was the transitions. The pros make them look so easy but they would practice and practice - I think I only had one practice run through before my first triathlon which if I’m honest didn’t go well but it did make me laugh!  A triathlon in my option is way harder and more time consuming to train for than running long distances. 

So what did lockdown teach you about yourself?  My running adventures taught me a lot of coping strategies that have helped me enormously in lockdown. I have realised that I’m much more adaptable than I thought I was, I can cope with change much better than I thought I could and it’s OK to have a bad day, let it go as tomorrow will look different. I have missed hugging my friends and family! 

Now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure?  I have a list of adventures I would like to do but this year they will all be uk based. I haven’t decided which one is going to be first but last year I was going to cycle the North Coast 500 so that is right up there as a must do! Can’t wait. 

It's a popular route! And who's lucky enough to be around your campfire? Sitting round the camp fire with Anna McNuff and Jenny Tough would be amazing, I would sit and listen to their fantastic adventure around the world, great story telling and laughter. I would also like to invite my father who sadly passed away in 2007, I can imagine him sitting there with his guitar and we would all be singing - perfect! 

You can read a full review of Limitless here & Mimi joins Anna McNuff to talk about their shared love of long-distance running at the London Mountain Film Festival

Scottish Bothy Walks - Scotland's 28 Best Bothy Adventures by Geoff Allan : A beautifully illustrated walking companion to the bothies of Scotland. 

Can you tell us what a bothy is? In essence, a bothy is a form of rough and ready accommodation, traditionally a place to house farm labourers or estate workers. However, more recently the term has been used to describe open shelters which are found in the wilderness areas of Scotland (and other remote places in the UK and Ireland). Typically, mountain bothies are shepherd’s cottages, estate houses or abandoned crofts that have been saved from ruin and renovated. Freely available for anyone to use, with no booking system or wardens, there is a whole network of bothies just waiting to be discovered in the most far-flung corners of the country.

What should I expect on my first bothy expedition?  Bothy accommodation is very basic, and it's important to assume that there will be no facilities. This means no gas, electricity or a tap. You should only expect to find a windproof and water-tight building, with somewhere dry to sleep. If you are staying overnight, you will need to carry in all the equipment you would normally take camping, plus candles, and if there is a fireplace, fuel to burn. 

Are bothies only found in Scotland? No the concept of bothies has caught the imagination, and they can now be found in England and Wales, and there are even a couple in Ireland. The biggest concentration outside Scotland is in Northumberland (a total of seven in close proximity within the national park), plus four in the Lake District and nine spread across the wilder regions of Wales. 

Scotland is one of the most beautiful, scenic countries on earth...is there one place you think our readers really should visit?  There are soooo many fantastic places to visit, it's difficult to choose just one place to recommend. But if you twist my arm and I have to give a definitive answer, I'd recommend going to the island of Jura. It really has a wow factor which takes your breath away. 

Now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure?  As with everyone who's been pining for the great outdoors, I'm itching to get out in the hills again. Bothies are still closed so I have dusted down my light-weight tent, and am planning a couple of summit camps. I'm working on a third bothy book, so I have a list of places to visit spread right across the country from Knoydart and the Rough Bounds to the Cairngorms National Park.

Who's around your camp fire?  One person I would have loved to chat to is Irvine Butterfield. My copy of his seminal munros guide, The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland, is the most well-thumbed tome on my bookshelf. An outstanding figure in the Scottish outdoor community for over 40 years, he was a founding member of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (now Scottish Mountaineering), the John Muir Trust, and also an significant voice within the early incarnation of Mountain Bothies Association.

Read a full review of Scottish Bothy Walks & download an extract here & you can read Geoff's answers in full on his author page. And not to be missed, join Geoff on a virtual bothy tour in the London Mountain Film Festival

Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown Ups by Anna McNuff :  Escape into a world of adventure with this collection of life-affirming short stories

Do adults need bedtime stories too?  They absolutely do! Especially after the year we've just had. We've come through a time of monumental change and a lot of stress and pressure, so getting a good night of kip is much needed, but de-stressing at bedtime (or in fact at any time during the day) is tough. I'm hoping these short stories give adults a chance to lift the weight of the world off their shoulders for a while and relax. 

As an ambassador, what has been your greatest contribution to Girlguiding?  That would have to be doing the 'Barefoot Britain' adventure. I ran 2,352 miles from Shetland to London, with no shoes on (as you do) and gave talks about adventure and resilience to over 1700 young girls along the way. There's no substitute for standing in front of a group of girls in your running kit, with grubby feet and saying 'I have no idea if I can do this... but I'm going to try.' 

Now restrictions are beginning to lift, have you any excting travel plans?  Oh my... I'm not letting myself think too far ahead yet but ABSOLUTELY. We're planning a few summer European adventures when we can (I love The Alps), and a visit to New Zealand for next UK winter. In between that I'm equally excited to do some more travelling around the UK. The Lake District, Scotland, Cornwall, Devon - all of those are getting me just as excited as going abroad. 

What advice can you give to would-be adventurers?  Just start. Wherever you are in life. however much money you have. Whatever your skill level for outdoorsy things. Just make a plan, no matter how small, tell three friends, put some money aside, mark it in your diary and commit. Everything else will take care of itself. 

Who's around your campfire?  Tina Turner (so she can sing and dance for us), Elizabeth Gilbert (so she can tell stories and inspire me to let me creativity out) and my Grandpa (sadly no longer with us) so he can tell me stories about the war. 

Anna McNuff talks long-distance running with Mimi Andersen and chats about her new book with Ben Sheppard, all at the London Mountain Film Festival 2021

Wild Nights Out - The Magic of Exploring the Outdoors After Dark by Chris Salisbury :  An exciting and illuminating guide to night-time adventures.

Wild Nights Out is full of brilliant activities and ideas for nocturnal explorers, from bat detecting, barefoot walking to a full moon viewing party. How do we benefit from exposure to a darkened world?  We are all somewhere on the spectrum of nature-deficit disorder, and when it comes to the night time, we have dismissed its invitation so completely as a modern culture that any time spent in the dark will feel exciting, as it’s become such an unfamiliar experience. Wildlife encounters can be manifested quite easily in the dark, with a few tricks of the trade, which are always a big thrill, and we should not underestimate the impact of seeing real wild creatures in their habitat. The darkness somehow intensifies the experience, and lends itself well to the 'wow' factor. I'd also say there are aspects to the outdoors at night time that feel qualitatively different, quieter and more reflective. Dare I say it feels a more soulful place, and to use an old-fashioned word there is more enchantment in the interplay between the shadows and mystery of what we cannot see. If there are stars and/or a moon to observe, then we are given a perspective of our place in space, which again feels a lovely 'otherness' to the busy daytime routines. 

Tell us a bit about WildWise and what you offer.  WildWise offer a broad menu of enticing invitations to spend time in nature. Over the last 21 years we have learned to offer a diverse range of events to suit all tastes, from the delightful short excursions to the longer more immersive experiences. We are known for the creative and soulful quality of our provision and whether you are a teenager wanting to come on our epic Hunger Games camps, or a family that wants to spend quality time in our beautiful Devon locations, or you're a wild child in need of some wild times we are pretty sure you will be able to meet your needs and interests. Check out our acclaimed year-programmes and professional training courses too

Now restrictions are lifting, where are you heading for your first adventure?  My love affair with the wildest valley in England continues - I'm lucky to live and work in the beautiful Dart Valley, where there are endless mysteries to sustain my interest. Our first wider excursion is to take our students up to wild Scotland for a 5-day canoeing adventure....needless to say, we can't wait!

I bet! And other than those lucky students, who's around your campfire? I have a lengthy list of champions and heroes relating to my work, and I'd love to invite them all of course. For now though, I'd like to re-connect with one of my inspirations in my career, who very kindly offered a foreword for my book, Ray Mears. He's got such good stories to share, and I remember firesides filled with his laughter and good humour.

We have a full review of Wild Nights Out and a sneak peek at the book, plus Chris shares his passion for nature & night-time adventures with the London Mountain Film Festival.

In it for the Long Run - Breaking Records and getting FKT by Damian Hall : the truth behind this awesome record-breaking Pennine Run 

Your record-holding Pennine Way run is an incredible achievement... will you be seriously fkt off when your record is broken?  Heehee. Yes! And John Kelly, who broke the 31-year-old record but only held it for eight days, is going again, to try and beat my record, very soon. There's nothing wrong with me switching some of the waymarkers round, is there?

You've set another, perhaps even more important, record - In It for the Long Run is Vertebrate's first carbon negative book (and the future for publishing). Can you tell us a bit about Trees Not Tees, another sustainability initiative you support.  They're co-founded by a friend, record-breaking fell-runner Jim Mann. The idea is brilliantly simple. Race organisers can sign up to offer runners the choice between having a t-shirt or planting a tree. The clothing industry is worse for the planet than aviation and shipping combined and running has a t-shirt problem. Plus the world needs a lot more trees and urgently.

Now restrictions are beginning to lift, where are you heading for your first adventure?  I dashed to Snowdonia, Wales as soon as it was allowed. And I have a little record-bothering bimble planned for late May in the north of England...

Best of luck! And who's around your campfire?  Oh cripes. Er, Scott of the Robert Falcon Scott, Arsene Wenger, Hunter S Thompson, Dale Vince...

Damian discusses running, records and classic routes with Vassos Alexander at the London Mountain Festival and you can read a full review of In it for the Long Run and download an extract here.

100 Great Walks with Kids - Fantastic stomps around Great Britain by Jen & Sim Benson : Brilliant walks, practical tips and ideas for family adventures

100 Great Walks with Kids is a must-have guide for families, especially useful at the moment with walking near the top of most weekend activities. Give us your top tip to encourage a reluctant young walker!  Our kids love being outside, and they almost always tackle a walk with lots of enthusiasm and energy - once they're through the door. It's that first step that's often the hardest. We find talking to them about something they'll find exciting along the way helps  - perhaps there's a cafe, a playground or even a castle to explore. This gives them something to aim for, and to look forward to, and kids will always view an adventure with far more enthusiasm than a walk.

The pandemic has encouraged us to get out and explore our neighbourhoods...have you stumbled across a new and exciting place you'd never before noticed?  We usually travel quite a bit for work so, in many ways, it has been really nice to have the time to explore closer to home. It's been fun to rediscover places we had previously only been to alone - usually out running, or walking the dog - with the kids for company. It's fascinating to watch and listen as our familiar local places change with the seasons and the weather, too. Even the same walk never feels the same two days in a row.

Do you have a favourite area of the UK to walk?  That would be an impossible choice! We've been lucky enough to spend the past few years exploring the length and breadth of Britain for our job, visiting so many incredible places along the way. Although it's relatively small, this country is packed with so much variety in its landscapes, wildlife, cultures and stories. It feels like there's always something new and unexpected to discover. 

Now restrictions are lifting, where are you and the family heading for your first adventure?  We both spent many years living and adventuring in Devon before we moved away, 10 years ago. We usually go back regularly, catching up with family and friends and making the most of the incredible diversity of landscapes, from Dartmoor to the sea. We've really missed it over the past year, so a return to Devon is definitely top of the list.

Who's around your campfire? Ray Mears - he's a campfire cooking genius!

Nice choice!  Read a full review and download an extract from 100 Great Walks with Kids here & you can get some top tips for family ambles and adventures with Jen & Sim at the London Mountain Film Festival

If you have a question for any of our authors please post in the comment box below & we'll do our best to get you an answer....and if you haven't got a question then we'd love to hear who's around your fantasy camp fire!

We look forward to seeing our authors in interview over the festival fortnight. And scroll down for more inspirational books with an outdoor, adventure theme.

With thanks to Geoff Allan for the feature photo, taken from Scottish Bothy Walks.

The London Mountain Film Festival runs online for 2 weeks, from May 15 to 31, 2021.

Find out more www.londonmountainfestival.com 

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Tough Women

Tough Women

Author: Jenny Tough Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/08/2020

As Tough Women’s subtitle declares, these are “stories of grit, courage and determination”. True tales from twenty-two tough women from around the globe who undertake awe-inspiring adventures across the globe, from canoeing the Canadian wilderness, to hiking Pakistan, to cycling South America.    Its editor is the intrepid Jenny Tough, a Canadian mountaineering expert who notes in her introduction that “the outdoor industry is actually fully of women, but when it comes to the highest level of media…the demographic dwindles to one”. Fortunately, this sexist state of affairs could be on the verge of changing - through giving voice to the “badass outdoorswomen” who here tell their extraordinary stories, this book might just change that narrow narrative and inspire new generations of female adventuresses.    Each account enthrals like the best kind of travel writing. There are dazzling evocations of, for example, rugged Himalayan mountain-scapes, lush South American jungles, and howling Norwegian glacial valleys. Many of the women’s stories reveal monumental physical and emotional challenges - challenges tackled and overcome with super-human strength and resilience - and all of them underpinned by a joyously life-affirming spirit of curiosity.

Broken 2020: the year running records were rewritten

Broken 2020: the year running records were rewritten

Author: Ally Beaven Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/12/2020

Broken is a witty and engaging book of broken records, or rather ‘Fastest Known Times’ achieved by elite ultra-runners who travel ridiculously long distances, often over unspeakably difficult terrain and in terrible weather, all for the honour of doing it in less time than anyone else ever has. In 2020 more new FKTs were set than ever before for the simple reason that with normal race fixtures cancelled, many athletes needed alternative targets and they had to be lone efforts. So how about 260 miles with little sleep along the Pennine Way in under 62 hours, for example? Or why not have a go at all 282 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000ft) in little more than a month, plus cycling and kayaking between them? Outside of the running bubble you may not have heard of Beth Pascall, John Kelly, Damian Hall, Donnie Campbell; but within it they are the stuff of living legend. Fell-running, ultra-running, mountain-running - pick your term - is increasing in popularity so much it’s in danger of going mainstream. Ally Beaven has written the book to get you hooked. I read it in 5 hours 40mins. Beat that!  ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival

Secret Britain

Secret Britain

Author: Mary-Ann Ochota Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/09/2020

Secret Britain is a fascinating collection of ancient wonders curated for print by TV presenter and anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota. An Anglo-Saxon mystic princess.. A wild circle of thorns.. A naked pagan.. A queen’s lost ring.. A cure for witchcraft.. Secrets such as these are unearthed from page to page. Everything from tiny artefacts to large structures are included, representing the entire land from Orkney to Cornwall. The book is packed with excellent photography and will improve the look of any coffee table, but you may also want to find space for it under your passenger seat because if you like a staycation there is a strong chance that you will find yourself near at least one of these mysterious sites. Not only is the book geographically diverse and full of unexpected treasures, but the timeline they span is extraordinary, starting 33,000 years ago and ending up in 1916; simply layer upon layer of heritage. The author’s descriptions are both tantalising and informative, posing many unanswered questions as well as intriguing answers, or at least alternative explanations. Mary-Ann Ochota tells these stories with great flourish and a passion for her subject, opening doors to the past which the most inquisitive of us will want to pass through. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival  

No Easy Way The challenging life of the climbing taxman

No Easy Way The challenging life of the climbing taxman

Author: Mick Fowler Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/01/2019

Mick Fowler is the master of the small and remote Himalayan expedition. He has been at the forefront of this pioneering approach to alpinism for over thirty years, balancing his family life, a full-time job at the tax office and his annual trips to the greater ranges in order to attempt mountains that may never have been seen before by Westerners, let alone climbed by them.   In No Easy Way, his third volume of climbing memoirs following Vertical Pleasure and On Thin Ice, Fowler recounts a series of expeditions to stunning mountains in China, India, Nepal and Tibet. Alongside partners including Paul Ramsden, Dave Turnbull, Andy Cave and Victor Saunders, he attempts striking, technically challenging unclimbed lines on Shiva, Gave Ding and Mugu Chuli – with a number of ascents winning prestigious Piolets d’Or, the Oscars of the mountaineering world.   Written with his customary dry wit and understatement, he manages challenges away – the art of securing a permit for Tibet – and at home – his duties as Alpine Club president – all the while pursuing his passion for exploratory mountaineering.

Wild Swimming Walks Cornwall

Wild Swimming Walks Cornwall

Author: Matt Newbury Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Discover secret coves, sandy beaches, blue grottoes and moorland pools with 28 magical days out. Combining stunning photography, engaging stories and natural history, with all the practical information you need - detailed directions, route maps, practical ideas and downloadable guides. Perfect for adventurers and family explorers alike.

Underland

Underland

Author: Robert Macfarlane Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/08/2020

This is a totally unique and breathtaking introduction to what lies beneath us, to the earth below our feet. Let this very special and beautiful book take you by the hand and lead you through the sunlit fields to the place where the underland begins, a place most human thoughts shy from in fear and confusion. This is a sequel to The Old Ways, yet you can begin here without concern, you can trust and join Robert Macfarlane as he explores the underland. I will admit that I am in love with the writing, the words, the vision that allows you to see and feel in darkness. I haven’t ever considered our deep connection to this stunning underworld in the way you are encouraged to here. Robert Macfarlane meets and shares experiences with people who have chosen to explore, to look beyond the obvious. I absolutely adored how much he shares, how accessible Underland is, his words reached out and connected with my thoughts and feelings, altering, reshaping, transforming. While there is plenty to fear for our future, all the time there are humans with this amount of love for our natural world, there is also hope. Underland is one of my picks of the month, and also one of our star books - it is quite simply stunning.

Diary of a Young Naturalist

Diary of a Young Naturalist

Author: Dara McAnulty Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked!    McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall.   This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival

Greenery Journeying with the Spring from Southern Africa to the Arctic

Greenery Journeying with the Spring from Southern Africa to the Arctic

Author: Tim Dee Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/03/2021

Greenery recounts how Tim Dee tries to follow the season and its migratory birds, making remarkable journeys in the Sahara, the Straits of Gibraltar, Sicily, Britain, and finally by the shores of the Arctic Ocean in northern Scandinavia. On each adventure, he is in step with the very best days of the year - the time of song and nests and eggs, of buds and blossoms and leafing. 

Never Leave the Dog Behind

Never Leave the Dog Behind

Author: Helen Mort Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

This small yet perfectly formed book covers personal thoughts, poetry, and the relationship we develop with dogs when roaming, hiking, and running through our wild places, in particular hills and mountains. Helen Mort discusses photography, historical records, research, and shares her experience of her own four-legged friends. She also takes a fascinating look at the dogs bred to be our companions in hills and mountains such as Huskies and St Bernards. Even though this is non-fiction, there is a beauty to the writing, with moments that really made me stop and think. The author is a poet and as she wanders through her own thoughts, pondering, considering, and analysing, she lets us into her soul. Never Leave the Dog Behind would make a lovely little gift, if you adore dogs and nature, then this is the book for you.

Great Cycling Climbs: The French Alps

Great Cycling Climbs: The French Alps

Author: Graeme Fife & Peter Drinkell Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/07/2019

In this comprehensive guide, teacher, passionate cycling enthusiast and author of one of the most renowned books on the Tour de France and L'Alpe d'Huez, Graeme Fife presents the greatest mountain routes of the Alps. Each journey is revealed in historical snapshots, humorous observations and stirring stories from cycling's past, detailing the challenges of the climb and the key features to look out for along the way. A selection of photography of the routes and stunning scenery follows each chapter and hand-drawn maps document some of the most famous - and most challenging - climbs, both well- and lesser-known, including Chablais Massif, Grand Saint-Bernard, Col de la Colombiere, Mont du Chat and Col du Mont Noir.

Sky Dance

Sky Dance

Author: John D. Burns Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/09/2019

A captivating, amusing, yet provocative novel set in the Scottish Highlands. If you have read a book by John D. Burns before, it is likely to have been one or both of his memoirs, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales. The author has spent much of his life walking and climbing in the mountains, here he turns his hand to fiction, and ponders the future of the landscape he so loves. We enter what could be called a battle, between environmental protesters and landowners, with the two main characters seasoned hillwalkers. From winter (much beloved by our author), turning through the seasons back to winter again, we spend time on a fictional island in the Scottish Highlands. Using his knowledge, his passion for our wild places John D. Burns has written an engaging and satisfying read.  I actually recommend starting with his memoir The Last Hillwalker, as it really sets the scene, and you can appreciate the experience and love that has gone into Sky Dance.

The Last Blue Mountain

The Last Blue Mountain

Author: Ralph Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2020

In 1957, five members of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club set out to reach the peak of Haramosh, a previously unclimbed mountain in the Karkoram range that extends from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. Karkoram is the second highest mountain range in the world, exceeded only by the nearby Himalaya. It’s highest peak, K2, is well known to mountaineers, perhaps less so to those of us not so well versed in that world. The Last Blue Mountain is the story of this ascent, and of the tragedy that unfolded. It is a tale not of success or failure, but of human spirit and the determination to survive. Originally published in 1959, this re-publication now contains an enlightening foreword by writer Ed Douglas, former editor of the Alpine Journal. Two of the four OUMC climbers died on Haramosh. A third was killed descending the Weisshorn in 1963. Tony Streather, the final member of the team, died in 2018 at the age of ninety-two. The opportunity to speak with these men is gone but, thanks to the excellent writing and research of Ralph Barker, the chance to learn from them and to live their story is not.   As I reached the end of The Last Blue Mountain and closed the final page I confess I said a silent thanks. It was not just to the late Ralph Barker for writing this excellent book, but to Tony Streather and his fellow climbers, who are the kind of men who inspire us and whose tales of bravery and resilience will continue to enthral for generations to come.

Swimming Wild in the Lake District

Swimming Wild in the Lake District

Author: Suzanna Cruickshank Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2020

For hundreds of years, people have swum for fitness, for pleasure and for their health. Many of us also enjoy getting outdoors, walking and exploring, navigating and sight-seeing, as we appreciate fresh air, blue skies and the call of the countryside. Combining the two, presents us with some problems. How do you do it safely, for example? Or where are the best places to go? If you’re thinking of trying it, Swimming Wild shows you how. Not just through descriptions – although Suzanna Cruickshank’s words do that very nicely – the pictures, the experience of others and the tips this book offers are enough to persuade even those just slightly interested in diving into outdoor waters. The book even tells you how to get there, where to stay and who to book as a guide when you start.

Baggage

Baggage

Author: Jeremy Hance Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/11/2020

Take one articulate, impassioned environmental journalist with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, add honesty, humour, and some fascinating travels stories and you have an inspirational book in your hands. Jeremy Hance is an award-winning journalist with a job that means he has to travel to some of the most remote countries in the world. Each time he begins a journey he is joined by OCD (Jeremy has named Steve), and depression (Malachi) which makes for an interesting trip. We first join Jeremy in 2017 en route to Jakarta as he struggles to cope with the journey, we then travel back to 2006 when his love for travel and the environment really began. His honesty is refreshing and uplifting, I smiled, laughed, and winced on occasion as I travelled to some truly wonderful places. And then he invited me to feel his sorrow at the loss of nature across this world that we are a part of: “There are things in the world we’ve take advantage of for our ten thousands years of civilisation: a stable climate, a rich biodiverse white of wildlife, healthy oceans, and a deep connection to other forms of life. We’re risking all of these now.” He also sees the good, the possibilities: “… in reality, we’re all just human. And every day we can choose kindness or cruelty. We can choose to be brave or ambivalent”. And then he introduces hope: “Leave nature alone and it will flourish. Help it along a little, and it will come back all the faster and richer. Life is tenacious. Life will find a way, but we first have to leave it a path.” And so I travelled the world with Jeremy as he faced his fear every single day, and I found it inspiring, and fascinating in equal measure. Baggage: Confessions of a Globe-Trotting Hypochondriac is a wonderfully readable, engaging, and rewarding read, that I have chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month.

I Belong Here

I Belong Here

Author: Anita Sethi Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Thought-provoking, inspiring, and inclusive, this is a wonderful blend of nature and an examination of language, community and friendship. Journalist and writer Anita Sethi decided to hike the ‘backbone of Britain’ The Pennines after she was the victim of a vicious race-hate crime. Born in Manchester and holding a particular love for the natural world around us, in I Belong Here she reclaims her sense of belonging while being open and giving of herself and her thoughts. She walks through the land, often by herself, and explores her experiences and love for nature. Words dance in her hands, she shows how much language matters, looking at the various meanings of words, particularly with regards to nature and emotions, stating: “language can imprison or liberate”. She is so beautifully eloquent. I’ve always had a deep connection to the countryside, yet Anita’s words encouraged me to look again, to not just see the face of our natural surroundings but to look in more depth at our natural history and how it exists and connects us. And, that resonates deeply with her thoughts on the colour of skin: “it is exhausting to be pigeon-holed, people not seeing beyond skin colour”. While at times this is a challenging read as she experiences anger and despair, there is an awful lot of love to be found as she welcomes her surroundings and the people she meets along the way. Ultimately I felt a connection with Anita as she held out a hand and invited me to explore thoughts, feelings and nature alongside her. A LoveReading Star Book, I Belong Here is a truly beautiful and important read that I can wholeheartedly recommend. 

Comments (11)

Lili H - 12th May 2021

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Karen W - 11th May 2021

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Karen W - 11th May 2021

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Megan K - 9th May 2021

So many inspirational people!

Christopher P - 9th May 2021

A great selection of books, now lockdowns are easing I can't wait to go on adventures again

Mark T - 9th May 2021

A very interesting set of books

Sandra C - 8th May 2021

Some very inspirational booms here

Claire L - 7th May 2021

What a fantastic selection of books! Some really inspiring and adventurous reads to choose from.

Marion G - 6th May 2021

I love your answer to 'what kept you grounded this winter?' I shall try to bear that in mind when the cold, dark months come round again.

Laura C - 5th May 2021

I love the sound of 100 great walks for kids. My son loves getting out and exploring so this would be really interesting.

Gill W - 4th May 2021

I have never heard of the London Mountain Film Festival but am loving the selection of adventure books picked.

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