Over the last couple of years, I’ve run many of the routes in this book and really enjoyed them all. I find it so easy to get stuck running the same local routes, so this guide has been brilliant for inspiration to try something different. The routes range from 5km to 17.5km, spanning the width of the Brecon Beacons and venturing as far north as the Begwns, and there’s a good mix of mountain routes or gentler lower options.
I first read this a couple of years ago now; I loved it and I still think about it all the time. I really can't recommend it enough, particularly if you're a woman spending a lot of time outdoors and feeling quite alone in it.
The risk game is addictive.
‘Quest for Adventure’ describes 17 bold expeditions: crossing oceans, flying, climbing mountains and caving. It’s definitely a fascinating read for anyone interested in the broader spectrum of adventure and exploration.
I don’t read mountaineering novels very often; I suppose I don’t really see the point of them when there’s already so many dramatic factual accounts to read.
I’m really glad I made an exception here. I thought First on the Rope is an exquisite novel. It’s a finely-written love letter to the mountains, perfectly capturing the beauty and magic of long days moving through the mountains balanced against the cost.
I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve been craving a beach trip all lockdown. After spending so long either in the house or running through the same familiar areas, I’m really missing the wildness of the waves, the beauty of sun setting behind the sea, the joy of discovering a new cove to explore.
There’s always a tension in producing any guide to places that claim to be remote and deserted; any successful guide has the potential to end up spoiling the very thing it’s praising these places for. Hopefully there are so many beaches listed here, and covering such a wide area, that even those people seeking quiet beaches should end up spread out.
Mastermind is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their headgame in climbing, regardless of what level you’re currently operating at. It’s also good for psyche levels; I read it during a very wet winter which turned out to be a great help with training motivation. Some of the techniques definitely helped me to have a couple of breakthroughs on routes I’d been stuck on, and I’m looking forward to using more of these strategies over the next few months as travelling and climbing hopefully opens back up.
I read The Last Blue Mountain by Ralph Barker a few months ago now, and I still catch myself thinking about the ending. The tragedy of it has lingered in the back of my mind in a similar way to the death of Toni Kurz – so drawn out and with escape so, so close.
I really loved Bernadette McDonald's Winter 8000: it's a compelling read, certain to quickly become a classic of mountaineering literature. The insight into what Revol calls ‘the great Himalayan solitude’ is really fascinating, and I found myself captivated by these incredible tales of heroism and tragedy, friendships and rivalries played out over an immense scale. I'm already looking forward to a re-read!
A rare bright side of the endless lockdowns is that I read more in 2020 than I have for a few years. I started off the year with a firm resolution to work through my bookshelves and read all the ones I owned but had never actually opened. This started off well for the first couple of months, but when the first lockdown hit I changed plan, needing to read anything that was completely absorbing. Spring was filled with a rather indiscriminate selection of recent titles grabbed from the library in a panic the day before it shut. Over the second half of the year, I spent most of my time reading fantastical literature, veering between myth retellings and magical realism. I also read many short stories this year; some days I didn’t feel I had the energy or attention span to tackle a novel, and short stories slotted in here perfectly. I didn’t keep a list of these though – maybe something to change for next year.
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.