“It all had an irksome feeling of déjà vu. This had happened to me in a fashion before - but at least this time I had a working phone and we were below the snow-line.”
An exploration of the outposts set along the edges of civilisation and the impact that visiting these has on the human spirit, from the co-author of Holloway
There are still wild places out there on our crowded planet. Through a series of personal journeys, Dan Richards explores the appeal of far-flung outposts in mountains, tundra, forests, oceans and deserts. These are landscapes that speak of deep time, whose scale can knock us down to size. Their untamed nature is part of their beauty and such places have long drawn the adventurous, the spiritual and the artistic.
For those who go in search of the silence, isolation and adventure of wilderness it is – perhaps ironically – to man-made shelters that they often need to head; to bothies, bivouacs, camps and sheds. Part of the allure of such refuges is their simplicity: enough architecture to keep the weather at bay but not so much as to distract from the natural world.
Following a route from the Cairngorms of Scotland to the fire-watch lookouts of Washington State, from Iceland’s ‘Houses of Joy’ to the Utah desert; frozen ghost towns in Svalbard to shrines in Japan; Roald Dahl’s Metro-land writing hut to a lighthouse in the North Atlantic, Richards explores landscapes which have inspired writers, artists and musicians, and asks: why are we drawn to wilderness? What can we do to protect them? And what does the future hold for outposts on the edge?
“There’s a special magic in Richards’ luminous descriptions of nature and place, but also in the stories he tells … Richards has penned a thoughtful and beautifully written meditation on our quest to find spaces in which we can find something unexpected in ourselves and forge a new relationship with the natural world”
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“Richards’ prose is by turns beautiful, funny, evocative and learned, the pages illuminated by lovely, warming footnotes … [Richards’ voice is] vivid, self-deprecating, literary and very, very funny”
“Dan Richards is a wonderful storyteller, wise, wry and open-hearted, the perfect travelling companion. Outpost tells stories of emptiness, but is bursting with gorgeous life and language. It is a joy to read”
“Vivid, funny and moving – a wonderful stylist”
“Fascinating and funny”
Dan Richards is the co-author of Holloway (with Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood) and the author of The Beechwood Airship Interviews and Climbing Days. He has written for the Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, Caught by the River, Monocle and the Quietus. He is an RLF Fellow at Bristol University.