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 brave, bold, pure of spirit and, on occasion, foolish. In Outpost Dan follows both his father’s footsteps and his own heart to explore the furthest possibilities of human habitation, and our interface with a changing wilderness. Intelligent, surreal and always generous, Dan Richards is a Jerome K. Jerome for our set-upon times who bequeaths us that rarest gift – laughter”
Katharine Norbury, Author Of The Fish Ladder
“This book will be equally at home in the library of the armchair traveller and the kitbag of the weather-beaten nomad – Dan Richards has created an atlas of adventure for every reader possessed of an intrepid imagination”
Nancy Campbell, Author Of The Library Of Ice
“Dan Richards is that rare thing, a writer whose way of looking at the world is utterly unique. His new book, Outpost, is shot through with a sense of wonder, an infectious enthusiasm and a surreal wit. Pure joy”
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.