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Linda Piggott-Vijeh

Book reviews: return of the armchair traveller

IT is no secret that I have long had a passion for the written word, writes Linda Piggott-Vijeh.

Nowadays, I tend to be more selective in my reading, in as much as I consider my free time to be a precious commodity and I am not prepared to spend it reading something I am not enjoying.

I have pretty much given up chic lit and now gravitate towards books where I will come away having learnt something.  

I am one of the few people lucky enough to have been in a position to fully embrace the restrictions placed upon me by the events of the last 15 months. Hence, I have spent a significant amount of time with my head in a book.  

Here is what I have been reading: 

Travels With Boogie: 500 Mile Walkies and Boogie Up the River – Mark Wallington 

At the time of writing, I am in the middle of this tale of the author’s trek along Britain’s longest coastal footpath – from Somerset to Devon, from Cornwall to Dorset.

I am particularly enjoying the fact that I am familiar with most of the places visited. The self-deprecating style of this self-confessed townie provides a witty and light-hearted account of his adventures with Boogie the mongrel dog, the trials, and tribulations they face, and the people they encounter along the way.  

I have yet to move onto part two of this double-volume but being a Londoner by birth, I am looking forward to reading about his exploration of the Thames. 

 Tiny Islands: 60 Remarkable Little Worlds Around Britain – Dixe Wills 

I have always love exploring islands and this was a delightful book to dip in and out of. It has certainly whetted my appetite for exploration. All of the islands are accessible, by a combination of bus, Shanks’s pony, or ferry.

Each of the mini chapters, complete with colour photographs, gives a little bit of history, information on facilities, accommodation, and things to do. In the South West there are several worth a day trip, or even an overnight stay. 

 By the same author there are several other books that will interest those with specific areas of interest in exploring the UK.  

Tiny Britain: A Collection of the Nation’s Overlooked Little Treasures – Dixe Wills  

This gem of a book is beautifully presented in full colour throughout, uncovering 60 of our loveliest and most diminutive places to visit; castles, cathedrals, cinemas, pubs, museums, theatres, and more.

At a time when big is considered beautiful by everyone but me, these local treasures exemplify our local history and attitudes. With his usual attention to detail Dixe provides information on how to get there using public transport, when best to visit, and any must-see features. 

Tiny Campsites: 80 Small but Perfect Places to Pitch – Dixe Wills 

I have never been a fan of camping and fail to understand why anyone would want to spend their leisure time in less comfortable surroundings than they can enjoy at home. I can though appreciate that I am out of step with those looking to explore on a budget.

Here the author presents 80 of the most delightful little places to camp in Britain, many of which are known only to locals. These stunning places to pitch are found on farms, in woods, on clifftops, under the boughs of an apple tree in a private orchard or even on the banks of a river.  

Islandeering – Adventures Around the Edge of Britain’s Hidden Islands – Lisa Drewe  

This provides all you need to enable you to circumnavigate 50 of the most amazing hidden islands off the shores of England Scotland & Wales. Stretching from Essex to Somerset, Cornwall to Pembrokeshire, Northumberland and the Hebrides, readers are guided through wild foreshores and remote coast paths.

Routes are graded from easy to difficult, with detailed directions and GPX downloads supported by beautiful photography and maps. Exploration can lead to hidden islands for the best wildlife, local food and foraging, swimming, wild camping, and secret beaches.  

 The England Coast Path: 1,000 Mini Adventures Around the World’s Longest Coastal Path – Stephen Neale 

Thanks to this enormously exciting project, the opening of the path now provides a fantastic opportunity for walkers, campers, and fans of the outdoors to explore the entire 3,000-mile length of the English coast.

The author spent months surveying the proposed route to give us a detailed guidebook covering everything from the best places to swim, hunt for fossils and eat seafood, to hidden beaches and canoeing spots. The book is divided into the 16 coastal counties, featuring 1,000 places to see and explore. Each place has map coordinates, basic directions from the path and a short description.

This path represents what makes our country so great: a mix of eccentricity with a sense of pride in celebrating our most treasured asset, the wild coast, that defines us as an island nation.

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