A stunning labour of love and a clarion call to delight and achievement!
As a lover of wild walking for almost all my adult life, and a devotee of wild water swimming for many years, it almost felt as if someone (well, to be honest, as this book was created by a wonderful and inspired collective group of women) that is, a collection of wise, doughty and joyful someones, produced a book which absolutely fits me. To save all my friends buying me this for Christmas I’ve stolen a march on them and got it, pronto, for myself.
Now this book may have a practical appeal just for those who live in the more-or-less-greater London area, but it is also an object of visual style and beauty, from the delectable cover, designed by James Lewis, to the wealth of wonderful photos taken of the watery destinations, and the walkers and swimmers themselves. So, if I didn’t plan to use the book, it would still be one to aesthetically appreciate.
Moving on to the purely practical, this is a brilliantly put together book – not only are the instructions clear, but there are useful details of start/finish by public transport, length of each walk, time taken, ease or difficulty of the walk, details about the swimming aspects – for example, depth, ease of access to the water, details of the refreshments available (oh yay!) graphics on a map of the route, details of the precise OS map it can be found on – and, even better there are details of how you can access each map on line to printout and/or to email to a smart phone. This is stunningly helpful, and is part, I believe, of the approach that the publishers, Wild Things Publishers, have taken with their series of books.
So, an astonishingly well thought out package, in terms of both practicality and style – the book itself is far too beautiful to sully by cramming into a walking bag – particularly as eventually wet bathers will be dripping into said bag, nor would I want to break the spine of this book in my printer/scanner/copier just to print out the instructions.
There is also additional historical information about wild swimming, and rights of way, which may spur readers to further thought about the land and our relationship to it. Plus very sensible practical advice to those who may be unaccustomed to the delights of pond, lake, river or sea and only have swum whilst under the influence of chlorination. Magic awaits!
Many thanks to the authors, the contributors and the publishers for a gorgeous addition to my various walking books, and I shall enjoy both stepping out and pretending to be an otter, working my way through the 28 wild water and land experiences.
Oh…and the undoubtedly lovely photo of a swimmer in the River Cam is not one of the delectable ones from this book, which are all copyrighted, but is a Wiki Commons
I have a kind of arms length interest here – I have had nothing whatsoever to do with the making of this book, but I am a long time swimmer in the amazing Kenwood Ladies Pond, and do know many of those who are to be hugely congratulated for this brilliant book. Which was NOT an ARC – I have been impatiently waiting to spend my hard earned dosh on what I knew was going to be stunning!
Wild Water Swimmers of the World, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your bathers!