Outlandish: Walking Europe’s Unlikely Landscapes by Nick Hunt - review by Oliver Balch

Oliver Balch

Journey to the End of the World

Outlandish: Walking Europe’s Unlikely Landscapes

By

John Murray 274pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

That the best anecdotes come from friends of friends is a truism. In Nick Hunt’s case, the task of tale-telling falls to his hiking pal Dougie, who, while they are huddled together in a bothy high in the Cairngorms, recalls an acquaintance who slipped when climbing. Untethered, the poor man hurtled down the mountain, only to bounce off a snowbank into empty air. As his horrified climbing companions looked on, a final cry echoed out of the void: ‘Geronimo!’

The world as we know it, Hunt suggests, is facing its own Geronimo moment. Any sentient being knows as much. The icecaps are melting, the seas are rising and the Alps are turning less and less alpine. But fear not: Hunt doesn’t lay it on thick. In fact, if travel writing is your ticket out of dreadful headlines, you will love Outlandish. Ready yourself to be transported to a puzzling, preternatural world of Standing Eagles and pagan gods, reindeer herds and polytunnel pampas – all, more or less, on your doorstep.

After a trip to Dungeness, a place where the sea boils and the setting sun wobbles, Hunt struck on the notion that the far-flung can also be the nearby. Why travel to the Sahara, he muses, when you can go to Kent?

The search for ‘altogether elsewhere’ places near at hand

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