Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth by Dan Richards - review by Oliver Balch

Oliver Balch

Cabin Fever

Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth


Canongate 324pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Cabin life can arouse contrary passions. Some love it: the quiet, the solitude, the immersion in nature. Others think they love it, only to discover a contrary reality once they turn the latch and take up residence. Writers are supposed to fall into the first category, nature writers all the more so. Sheds, cabins, bivouacs, hideaways of any kind: these are the ‘ascetic creative crucibles’ from which deep insights emerge and artistic masterpieces are born. Think Walden or Train Dreams, two books with cabin life at their heart. Both these works excite the imagination of the travel writer and outdoors advocate Dan Richards. He is drawn to cabin life by the romanticism of being alone in the wilderness, by the promise of clarity, by the ‘cerebral clearing’ that awaits at the world’s furthest frontiers.

In Outpost, Richards explores the illuminating effects of empty spaces and the buildings that make them habitable. His odyssey takes him halfway around the world and back again, via Norway, Iceland, France, Switzerland, Japan, Scotland and the USA (twice). En route, he drops in on an array of remote shelters.

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