Ahead of his event at Stanfords Bristol this week, author Dan Richards discusses his new book Outpost – an exploration of far-flung shelters in mountains, tundra, forests, deserts and oceans – and answers few of our questions.
What books, authors or novels inspired you in writing Outpost? And what are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading Brian Dillon’s Essayism and Muriel Spark’s The Finishing School. I tend to read several books at once. Also The Pine Barrens by John McPhee; that’s on my bedside table — but Jan Morris, Joan Didion, Rebecca Solnit, and J.A. Baker have taken me on eye-popping journeys into strange lands. Richard Brautigan, Bob Dylan, George Simenon, Lavinia Greenlaw, Mark Doty, David Bowie, Cate Le Bon, T.S Eliot, Denis Johnson, Ted Hughes and Alice Oswald are a never-ending source of indelible images. I try to furnish my books with as much poetry, art, music and literature as possible and all those fed into Outpost.
In his latest book Epic Continent, award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber takes us on a fascinating adventure through our continent’s most enduring epic poems to learn how they were shaped by their times, and how they have since shaped us. Here he gives us an example of how there are echoes of these tales today:
The UK boasts an amazing network of rivers and canals which is ideal if you want to plan a journey on the water. As many people are opting for people powered modes of slow travel, canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding are on the up. If you are planning on exploring more of the UK sans roads, we have selected some of our favourite guides, maps and accessories to help you take to the water:
We are excited to announce the commissioning of local artist Emily Ketteringham to paint a large scale mural on our store window at Stanfords Bristol to celebrate the launch of author Robert Macfarlane’s new book Underland.
Underland is the highly anticipated new book from the internationally bestselling, prizewinning author of Landmarks, The Lost Words and The Old Ways. The mural will be based on the cover of the book which is a piece of art by Stanley Donwood, who has previously worked with Glastonbury festival and designed Radiohead’s album cover art.
With the long Easter weekend ahead, we are sure a lot of you have made plans with the great outdoors. We thought it would be a good time to look over our bestselling Ordnance Survey maps of 2019 so far. Hopefully they will inspire you in your trip planning.
Heading off with a tent and a stove strapped to your bike is very much in fashion at the moment. Some people insist on calling it ‘bikepacking’ if any of your ride is off-road but really it’s just cycling and you don’t need any fancy kit or a special bike. Nor do you have to go to the Alps or Patagonia. Most of us have a canal or a riverbank or a stretch of coastline near us just crying out to be explored and camped on. Here are some things to take into account before you set off:
1. If it’s your first time, go in summer. The idea is to have fun and there are no prizes for suffering or survival. In fact there are no prizes
2. You can use any bike, but do get it serviced. Nobody wants to be fixing their bike in the middle of nowhere or worse, pushing it home in the middle of nowhere.
3. The one thing you might want to think about changing on your bike is a set of chunky tyres. Road tyres can struggle with a loaded bike on loose ground. If chunky tyres don’t fit on your bike it’s maybe not the best for bikepacking.
4. Pick a destination and route you like. There are no rules – you don’t have to ride a hundred miles or break any speed records.
5. Make sure you’re allowed to ride and camp where you plan to go. That’s easy in Scotland because you can go on pretty much any open ground and track but in the rest of the UK you’ll want to check the rights of way and the attitude of land owners.
6. Take a map. Maps aren’t just for navigation they’re for browsing before and during your trip to give you ideas and to understand the place you’re in.
7. Take your time. The joy of bikepacking is to spin along in a low gear and to stop whenever the fancy takes you. Smell the flowers and hug the trees. Chat to everyone you meet.
8. Eat. Eat plenty and eat well. You are burning calories quicker than you think. If you’re only out for one night you don’t need to just survive on NATO ration packs you can do some proper cooking in advance and take it with you to heat up on a stove. Wilderness gastronomy is the next big thing and you heard it here first.
9. Take your time pitching your tent. Good sleep is invaluable so have a lie down on the ground first to find any lumps and bumps hidden in the grass. Think about where the sun will be in the morning and what view you want when you open the tent flap in the morning.
10. Unless you’re into the whole sobriety thing take a couple of beers or some wine or whatever mood enhancer works for you. There are few things more satisfying than being slightly tipsy while you watch the moon come up with a wee campfire on the go somewhere wild.
And there we have it. Cycling on rough paths is for everyone. You don’t need body armour or a hipster beard. And don’t worry about how old you are: this is for folks from eight to eighty eight (apart from the not being sober thing, obviously). It’s cheap, it’s fun and it can transform your life. Just respect the land you’re riding and camping on and don’t worry about getting lost or doing it ‘wrong’.
Whether you’re a young person setting off on your first overseas adventure, a career breaker, or a silver traveller heading out to discover a new destination; we all need to look after our personal safety and security. After all, we want our travel experience to be memorable for all the right reasons. No matter how experienced you are, Lloyd Figgins, travel risk expert and author of The Travel Survival Guide provides practical and cost effective advice on how to stay safe