Inspire your wanderlust, give as a gift or just put your feet up and enjoy a good read with one of our recommendations.
If you have any favourite wilderness books that have inspired you and you think we should all read then give us a shout on firstname.lastname@example.org we'd love to hear from you.
Sections: Water | Bushcraft & Camping | Wilderness & Nature
Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain
This watery classic follows the late great nature writer on his quest to swim through some of Britain's wildest and most beautiful places. Makes you want to run off and immerse yourself in the nearest ice cold lake!
A redemptive story of the healing power of water. This is a gripping and life affirming account of the writer's addiction and recovery in the wilderness and cold seas of the Orkneys.
Swell: A Waterbiography
Ice cold water, endorphins and redemption run through this history of the 'swimming suffragettes' who fought male prejudice to win us all the liberty to swim freely today, and in whatever costumes we like!
Song of the Paddle
This is a great classic guide to canoe expeditions using traditional camping techniques from the Canadian wilderness. Although the images of all the 80's gear are hopelessly out of date, the principles of paddling and living outdoors remain the same.
Another great book which tells you all the practical tips you need to know about canoe camping in the wilderness.
This covers all aspects of paddling techniques themselves and is the book you need whether you are a beginner or an advanced paddler. It covers all the technical strokes you would need to master, also water features, safety, portaging and lots of tips about equipment.
Bushcraft & Camping
This is the definitive practical guide for bushcraft skills when you are out in the wild. Loads of information about fire lighting, water collecting, use of tools and equipment, shelter building etc.
This is the mini version of the one above to take with you when you're packing light.
Ray Mears & Gordon Hillman
Comprehensive guide to wild food, including the cultural and historical context of hunter gatherer cultures. From roasted sloes to sea buckthorn juice, hedgerows will resemble a larder next time you're on a stroll.
Food from the Wild
This has very clear illustrations rather than photos of all the edible plants and mushrooms which actually makes their identification a lot easier.
Food for Free
The classic foraging bible from the 1970's. There is a little gem version which is handy to stick in your pocket when you're out and about.
The Complete Book of Fire
Goes into a lot of depth about building campfires for warmth, light, cooking and survival. The chemistry of fire is examined here as well as it's historical context.
The Book of the Bivvy by
If you want to get really close to nature, and the weather, try a bivvy bag! Lots of long distance lightweight mountain routes and technical tips.
Out on the Land: Bushcraft Skills from the Northern Forest
Ray Mears & Lars Falt
Survival techniques for super cold winter conditions in the Canadian wilderness. Lots of great photos of cold places best enjoyed at home.
Wilderness & Nature
The Old Ways
More in depth meandering across a variety of strange and wonderful terrains on ancient pathways. Exploring the connections between walking, memory and imagination. It makes you want to get your boots on and get out there!
Notes from Walnut Tree Farm
Published posthumously, a collection of his every day observations and reflections from his notebooks and diaries about the Suffolk landscape he loved so much. Loose and tangential, his random thoughts make it a refreshing book to just dip into.
The Living Mountain
How refreshing to have a book about mountains written by a woman, and in 1944 no less! Interestingly Macfarlane notes Shepherd "abandons the summit as the organising principle of a mountain". A lyrical journey around her beloved Caingorms with an almost zen-like meditation of the nature of landscape and consciousness.
Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found
Epic autobiographical tale of redemption and recovery as the writer tries to piece together a shattered life in an 1,100 mile solo walk up the American West coast.
This is fun. A selection of quite bonkers short trips from an ardent adventurer. My favourite is a circumnavigation of the M25 on foot in Winter. They end up pushing a discarded shopping trolley round full of their gear. Not quite Scott of the Antarctic, but a lot more upbeat.
The Cloudspotter's Guide
Ever wondered whether you're looking at a Cumulonimbus or a Cirrostratus and what that portends for the weather? A witty take on cloud watching which is as erudite as it is scientific.
Into Thin Air
This is the kind of dramatic real life disaster story which took place on the inhospitable slopes of Mount Everest that is best read from a horizontal position on a warm and cosy sofa.
Let my People Go Surfing
The founder of Patagonia traces his experiences in not only in rock climbing but also in setting up and running a sustainable and environmentally responsible business. Insightful progressive entrepreneurship, his management philosophy makes business feel inspiring.
This plots the cultural history of weeds, from the earliest human settlements to our modern world and our paradoxical relationship with them. You will never look at a humble dandelion in the same way again.
We Will Be Free: Overlanding In Africa and Around South America
Graeme & Luisa Bell
Full of ideas about traveling overland with a family in tow, from creative cooking, education, safety and more. Quirky and funny, they somehow make it look easy!
The Snow Leopard
An account of a two month search for the most elusive of Himalayan inhabitants, The Snow Leopard. Matthiessen's fine nature writing contains an early environmental message and, as he grieves his recently deceased wife, a spiritual element emerges.
Known primarily for his SF writing, Harrison's 'Mike' escapes London to find himself exploring the rock of the Pennines and Peak District. A gritty novel that captures a world of determined and idiosyncratic individuals, 'Climbers' conveys a strong sense of the North in the 80's with a dark humour.
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