I was very excited to be given* an advance review copy of “The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain” written by fellow #GetOutside Champions Jen and Sim Benson as I had bought and loved one of their other books “Wild Running’” before joining them as an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion myself. The strapline of this book is “150 incredible experiences on land and water” and the blurb on the inside cover describes it as “an exciting and informative guide for anyone seeking a challenge and an adventure in the UK.”
Before reviewing the content in any detail, I did the usual ‘flick through’ that you do when you pick up any book in a bookshop or from a coffee table and this book really looks and feels good. There is a glossy soft cover with inside flaps front and back that can be used to mark the pages and the book is full of gorgeous pictures. I should probably be less superficial when it comes to books (as I studied English Literature at university!) but I am always drawn to ones that are aesthetically pleasing and this book would definitely catch my eye.
On delving a little deeper and reading through the different sections, I actually decided that although the aesthetics would have initially drawn me to the book, the excellent layout and presentation means that the authors are able to convey a huge amount of information in a manageable and enjoyable way. The introduction provides some useful advice on adventuring and the book is then divided into eight regions with further sub-divisions by area. There are symbols to indicate the type of adventure (family-friendly, wildlife, culture/history) as well as symbols indicating if public transport is available at the start and finish of an adventure and if a good level of navigational skill is required. There is challenge level provided for the adventures as well as distances, OS grid references and OS map details. Each adventure is described on a page and then a “Local Highlights” box provides further relevant information on different topics such as history, accommodation, food and further activities. There are so many ideas for propelling yourself on an adventure by foot, by swimming, by paddling and by cycling as well as safety tips and things to be aware of when you undertake the adventure yourself.
I read this book while lying on a sun lounger in the garden and it was hard to sit still and stop myself running off to plan some trips! If I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be “inspiring". We are so fortunate to live in such a brilliant country where there are so many opportunities for adventure that do not require lots of time or money and this book is an excellent guide to what we have on our doorstep. This will definitely be on my list to give as a gift to friends and family who are adventurous (and those who would like to be adventurous!). It is also something I will consult when planning any trips around Britain to make sure I am not missing out on an opportunity to squeeze in an adventure!
For more information on Jen and Sim Benson, see their #GetOutside page. Copies of the book will be available on Amazon from 17 May.
*Although I did not pay for the book, this review is written voluntarily and no payment has or will be made.
When I started to run more often and enter some running events I used to love gobbling up all the advice I could in magazines like Runner’s World. I definitely picked up lots of helpful tips about how to run but, over the years, I have probably made all the mistakes that the magazines warn you about: I have run too much and too little for my goals; I have eaten the wrong thing before, during and after races; and I have tried to ramp up too quickly after a period off running. They say experience is the best teacher and while I would not pretend to be an expert, I have been burned enough to know how to manage my running for what I am trying to achieve.
So what magazine do you read about running once you don’t just want to know how to run? I didn’t think anything like that existed until my friend Steph (@44stephie) told me to check out Like The Wind magazine which has the tag line “It’s why we run.”
As far as I know, the English language doesn’t (but probably should) have a word for discovering something for the first time that makes you wonder how you could have lived your life not knowing it existed. The best way I can describe my feeling after reading this is that it was the same way I felt after I first tasted sticky toffee pudding. Every page, like every mouthful of my first bowl of sticky toffee pudding, was a delight and I kept going thinking that it really cannot be this good. But it really is. Please take a look at the website to find out more about the amazing couple behind this magazine www.likethewindmagazine.com and how the writers and illustrators contribute to the magazine for free. Julie and Simon have day jobs and produce this magazine in their spare time which makes it all the more remarkable.
Calling it a magazine almost does it an injustice because it is a beautiful object with wonderful illustrations, articles and photographs and is printed on thick, quality matt paper. On opening it you can tell it is produced by passion and not motivated purely by profit. I have taken out a subscription that costs £32 a year for 4 issues which are published quarterly (a saving of £1 per issue on the cover price of £9). That would be expensive for an ordinary magazine but this is not an ordinary magazine. It is absolutely worth every penny and it works out at less than £3 per month over the year. The stories are so varied and inspiring and help to capture the essence of why we run. There is no one answer to the question of why we run but the exploration of that question is an inspiration in itself and it made me consider all the reasons why I run from the lofty, philosophical motivations to the more mundane (like my love of sticky toffee pudding). I eagerly await the next issue and thoroughly recommend this magazine for those who enjoy running.