When going for a long walk isn’t fun anymore…

Book Title: Sahara – A Journey of Love, Loss and Survival

Sahara - book cover by Paula Constant
Source: Penguin

Author: Paula Constant

Promotional Blurb: A journey of love, loss and survival.

Having walked more than 5000 kilometres from Trafalgar Square to Morocco, Paula Constant finds herself at the westernmost edge of the Sahara Desert – and the brink of sanity. The wheels have fallen off her marriage and her funds are quickly drying up, but she is determined to complete the second stage: walking through the romantic Big Empty of Northern Africa to Cairo. 

Sahara is the story of Paula’s struggle to overcome her innermost demons and take control of her journey, her camels and the men she hires to guide her through one of planet’s most extreme regions. Illness, landmines and political red tape stand between Paula and the realisation of a life’s dream. 

Sahara is a thrilling adventure and a story of joy, heartache, inspiration and despair. But, above all, it’s a celebration of the human spirit in all its guises. Source.

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…and now I feel completely inadequate. Being cut down to size by a true adventurer…

Book Title: Lands of Lost Borders – A Journey On The Silk Road

Author: Kate Harris

Lands of Lot Borders - Book Cover
Source: Harper Collins

Promotional Blurb: As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved – that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician – had gone extinct. From her small-town home in Ontario, it seemed as if Marco Polo, Magellan and their like had long ago mapped the whole earth. So she vowed to become a scientist and go to Mars.

Well along this path, Harris set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule. This trip was just a simulacrum of exploration, she thought, not the thing itself – a little adventure to pass the time until she could launch for outer space. But somewhere in between sneaking illegally across Tibet, studying the history of science and exploration at Oxford, and staring down a microscope for a doctorate at MIT, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks, leaving footprints on another planet: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. And where she’d felt that most intensely was on a bicycle, on a bygone trading route. So Harris quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Yule, this time determined to bike it from beginning to end.

Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of a world that, like the self and like the stars, can never be fully mapped.   Source.

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Yes, Yet Another Book About Walking the Camino. And a Fabulous One At That!

Book Title: The Way, My Way – a Camino memoir

Author: Bill Bennett

Book Cover - The Way My Way by Bill Bennett. A camino memoir

Promotional Blurb: “I’d never done anything crazy like this before – a pilgrimage walk. I was not a hiker, and I wasn’t a Catholic. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I was a Christian. On the last government census when I had to state my religion, I’d said I was a Buddhist, mainly because they’ve had such a hard time in Tibet and I felt they needed my statistical support.

I was also not an adventure traveller. For me, adventure travel was flying coach. All this backpacking and wearing of heavy boots and flying off to France to walk ancient pilgrimage routes was a new experience, and not one that made me feel entirely comfortable.”

And so Bill Bennett, an Australian based film director, sets off on an 800-kilometre walk across Spain to Santiago de Compostela, not sure why he was doing it, and not feeling entirely comfortable. His discomfort increased markedly a few days later when his knee gave out – so the rest of the walk was a “pain management pilgrimage.” But he kept his sense of humour, and his memoir is at times hilarious but also deeply moving, and insightful. In the vein of Bill Bryson and Eric Newby, The Way, My Way takes you on a unique spiritual journey, and gives you a hearty laugh along the way. Source.

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Sigh…Still Dreaming of International Travel

People standing on a ramp ready to board a plane that is not there

I have done my best to be patient. I have knuckled down and focused on my business and house-type projects I have been putting off for too long, and I have tried to look outside myself to help family and friends with their projects too.

But as hard as I try to distract myself, I just can’t stop myself dreaming of stepping on an aeroplane and jetting off overseas for an exotic adventure.

And sadly, it seems that dreams and dreaming will have to do for years to come…

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Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Out there in the Wild!

Book Title: Wild By Nature

Author: Sarah Marquis

Book cover of Wild by Nature by Sarah Marquis
Source: Allen & Unwin

Promotional Blurb:The epic story of one woman’s 16,000 kilometre, three year trek from Siberia to Australia.  

Not since Cheryl Strayed’s Wild has there been such a powerful epic adventure by a woman alone.

In Wild by Nature, Sarah Marquis, a National Geographic Explorer, recounts her extraordinary solo hike that took her literally from one end of the planet to the other. Over 1000 days and nights she journeyed through six countries, starting in Siberia and finishing up at a place of special significance for her – a small tree standing alone in the vastness of the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia.

Walking for three years, Sarah overcame almost insurmountable odds to reach her final goal, surviving Mongolian thieves on horseback who harassed her tent every night for weeks, heavily armed drug smugglers in the Golden Triangle, temperatures from subzero to scorching, lethal wildlife, a dengue fever delirium in the Laos jungle, tropical ringworm in northern Thailand, dehydration and a life-threatening abscess.

Sarah’s story is an incredible record of adventure, human ingenuity, persistence and resilience that shows firsthand what it is to journey as a woman in some of the most dangerous and inhospitable regions on the planet, as well as some of the most beautiful, and what it is like to be truly alone in the wild. Source.

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The Highs and Lows of the South West Coast Path, Great Britain

Book Title: The Salt Path

Author: Raynor Winn

Promotional Blurb: The uplifting true story. A Sunday Times bestseller, shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize.

Book cover - Raynor Winn's The Salt Path - Penguin
Source: Penguin

The story of the couple who lost everything and embarked on a journey, not of escape, but salvation. Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, the couple lose their home and their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset via Devon and Cornwall.

They have almost no money for food or shelter and must carry only the essentials for survival on their backs as they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

The Salt Path is an unflinchingly honest, inspiring and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways. Source

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How far would you go for your best friend?

Book Title: I’ll Push You

Author: Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

The cover of the book I'll Push You
Source: Book Depository

Promotional Blurb: Two best friends, 500 miles, one wheelchair, and the challenge of a lifetime.

Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.

So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was, “I’ll push you”.

I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humour, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits and make us the best versions of ourselves. Source

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Wandering & Pondering in the Australian Alps

Book Title: From Snow to Ash – Solitude, soul-searching and survival on Australia’s toughest hiking trail

Author: Anthony Sharwood

Cover of book - From Snow to Ash - published by Hachette

Promotional Blurb: The incredible, inspiring story of a solo journey through Australia’s toughest and most beautiful hiking trail – the Australian Alps Walking Track – for fans of Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and anyone who dreams of iconic wilderness walks.

At the start of the hellish, fiery Australian summer of 2019/20, Walkley Award-winning journalist and suburban dad Anthony Sharwood set off on a journey. Abandoning his post on a busy news website to clear his mind, he solo-trekked the Australian Alps Walking Track, Australia’s most gruelling and breathtakingly beautiful mainland hiking trail, which traverses the entirety of the legendary High Country from Gippsland in Victoria to the outskirts of Canberra.

The journey started in a blizzard and ended in a blaze. Along the way, this lifelong lover of the mountains came to realise that nothing would ever be the same – either for him or for the imperilled Australian Alps, a landscape as fragile and sensitive to the changing climate as the Great Barrier Reef. Source

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Finding Yourself When You Are Lost in Nature

Book Title: Bewildered

Author: Laura Waters

The cover of the book BewilderedPromotional Blurb: What would move you to ditch your life and take off into the wild for five months? For Laura Waters, it took the implosion of a toxic relationship and a crippling bout of anxiety.

 Armed with maps, a compass and her life in a bag on her back, she set out to walk the untamed landscapes of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, 3000 kilometres of raw, wild, mountainous trail winding from the top of the North Island to the frosty tip of the South Island. But when her walking partner dropped out on the second day, she was faced with a choice: abandon the journey, or face her fears and continue on alone? She chose to walk on.

 For five months, Laura battled not only treacherous terrain and elements, but also the demons of self-doubt and anxiety. As the kilometres fell behind her, nature did its work, stripping away her identity and guiding her towards a new way of being. At the end of Te Araroa, it was the hard-earned insights into the power of nature, emotional wellbeing and fulfilling relationships – with others as well as with herself – that were Laura’s greatest accomplishments. She emerged ‘rewilded’, and it transformed her life. Source 

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Movie Review: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago – Does it Really Show What it is Like to Walk a Camino?

A person admiring the view over the Pyrenees. Source: People walking the camino. Source: caminodocumentary.org
Source: caminodocumentary.org

It is time for me to don the black skivvy, slide on the intellectual-looking glasses, and assume my movie-reviewer persona. Definitely not a hard transition to make when today’s movie review relates to walking a camino in Spain.

 Grab a cuppa and a couple of chocolate biscuits (you’ll need some energy for all that walking).

Pull up your comfy chair, sit back and relax, and step out into the Spanish countryside….

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Movie Review: The Way – Does it Really Show What it is Like to Walk a Camino?

Silhouette of a bull against a cloudy blue sky in Spain
Only in Spain…

It took a particularly wet and miserable Autumn day to keep me inside. As a rule I love rainy days as they happen so rarely in Australia and it was the perfect excuse to dust off my well-loved copy of the movie, The Way.

I put my hand up and admit that this is possibly my sixth or seventh viewing of The Way so obviously I am a bit of a fan. It never fails to create a sense of wanderlust and the urge to walk out my back door and just keep going.

But, how accurate is it? Does it really portray the highs and lows of walking the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain? Or is it all glossed over with a thick layer of Hollywood schmaltz?

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5 Walking Books to Inspire You to Pull on Your Backpack and Walk Out the Front Door

Just because we can’t physically travel at the moment doesn’t mean we stop dreaming of travel and planning our next adventure.

What it does mean is that we can walk in the footsteps of others, all from the safety and comfort of our cosy armchair.

Here are five tantalising travel books to inspire and deliver a solid case of both envy and admiration.

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Women can be adventurous too, even in the olden days…

Book Title: The Valley of the Assassins And Other Persian Travels

Author: Freya Stark

Front Cover of The Valley of Assassins book by Freya Stark
Source: penguinrandomhouse.com

Promotional Blurb: Hailed as a classic upon its first publication in 1934, The Valleys of the Assassins firmly established Freya Stark as one of her generation’s most intrepid explorers. The book chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget.

 Stark writes engagingly of the nomadic peoples who inhabit the region’s valleys and brings to life the stories of the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East, including that of the Lords of Alamut, a band of hashish-eating terrorists whose stronghold in the Elburz Mountains Stark was the first to document for the Royal Geographical Society.

 Her account is at once a highly readable travel narrative and a richly drawn, sympathetic portrait of a people told from their own compelling point of view. Source  Continue reading