Thursday 21 May 2015

First look: Walking the Border by Ian Crofton

by Ian Crofton

I have just started reading this handsome volume by Ian Crofton. The author has a number of books to his name, and has a reputation for bringing history and facts to life in an engaging way. He's also a keen climber and walker. The outdoors and writing often go together, don't they?

The premise is straightforward enough – it's a book about walking the border between England and Scotland. I was expecting an account of the walk, but from the first page it's apparent that a great deal more is going on here in addition to the coverage on the hiking itself. The first chapter explores the very concept of borders and the author weaves his research throughout the book. He visits and talks to immigrants and refugees at many of the UK's borders, and there's also some very topical material on the Scottish independence question. I suspect these issues will become absolutely central to the story Ian Crofton has to tell.

Some readers are bound to disagree with the author's political views – not usually a concern in a straightforward hiking book – but this is hardly a manifesto or an opinionated rant. From what I've read so far, it's an intelligent and informed study on the very concept of borders. This side of the book  was a pleasant surprise and I think I'm going to really enjoy this one.

As always, I'll follow this post up with a full review when I have finished reading it.

Disclaimer: the publisher sent me an advance copy of this book to review.

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