The wild weather over the past few weeks has meant I haven’t been able to get out and enjoy the hills as much as I’d like. But if I am stuck indoors, at least I have time to read books about the outdoors. This is often where I find inspiration for my next adventure or personal challenge.
So here’s a list – in no particular order – of 9 inspiring books about the outdoors that my wife and I have really enjoyed reading. All have inspired us in some way. We hope you find something to enjoy here. There’s a mix of old and new titles; well-known favourites and perhaps one or two lesser-known.
If we can’t be out adventuring in the wilderness ourselves, the next best thing might be to read about other people’s adventures! Clicking the titles will take you to the Amazon store where you can find out more about each one.
Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
An absolute classic. The film is good, but the book is even better. The true story of 26 year-old Cheryl’s 2,600 mile walk along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. I loved reading about how the walk literally saved her life – something I feel I can relate to.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
An incredible book. I first became aware of it when two people independently recommended it to me while I was out walking. On one level it is an account of walking the South West Coast Path, but it’s far more than that. Read it.
Woman in the Wilderness: My Story of Love, Survival and Self-Discovery by Miriam Lancewood
I first came across this story while watching the Ben Fogle series, New Lives in the Wild. This is Miriam’s story of her life with her partner Peter. The couple live a nomadic life, and the book covers their years in New Zealand (the TV episode filmed them in Bulgaria). A really interesting account of living an outdoors life that in many ways I envy.
The Scottish Bothy Bible: The complete guide to Scotland’s bothies and how to reach them by Geoff Allan
A complete guide to the 81 Scottish bothies maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association. The random and remote nature of the bothies is definitely part of their appeal, and sets them apart from mountain huts. This book details the history and facilities of each bothy, as well directions to help you find them. This is an interesting read as well as a useful resource.
This book is quite old now – she completed the walk over 30 years ago. However, that in itself makes it a really interesting read. A well written, honest and humble account of an incredible walk around a pre-internet, pre-mobile phone Britain.
Call of the Wild: My Escape to Alaska by Guy Grieve
This is the story of what happened when Guy Grieve gave up his job in Edinburgh and went to spend a year alone in the interior of Alaska. The book is a highly engaging read. I’m a self-confessed gear-geek, so I particularly enjoyed his notes and gear lists at the end.
The Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff
OK, this is a story about running rather than walking. Nonetheless it is a great account of a long-distance trail on my bucket list: the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand. It is 1,900 miles long, from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island. Anna decided to run it in 148 days. The book is worth reading for her down-to-earth take on facing a life-changing challenge.
If you have walked the Pennine Way before, or you’re planning to, then this account from Barrry Pilton is a hilarious tale of what it used to be like before the era of paving slabs. It was written in 1986 and describes the trail as I remember it when I first walked it in the 1980s.
Race to the Pole by James Cracknell and Ben Fogle
I think the front cover of this book says it all! Not content with rowing across the Atlantic, James Cracknell and Ben Fogle team up again and enter the South Pole Race. This is an account of their training and the race itself, and I found it difficult to put this book down. Surely the ultimate wilderness challenge?
So these are our 9 recommended inspirational books about the outdoors. We’d love to hear your recommendation of what we should read next to inspire our next adventures.
Wild Walking UK Note:
The links in this post will take you to the book for sale on Amazon. If you click on the link and purchase the book (or in fact, anything else from Amazon), Wild Walking UK receives a small commission. There is no additional cost to you. The commission goes directly to pay for the running costs of this blog. Thank you very much for your support.