I’ve always enjoyed reading Christopher Somerville’s numerous travel articles, usually about walking, in various national papers. Now, of course, he’s The Times’ walking correspondent. So when I heard about his latest book, I was keen to grab a copy.
Walking the Bones of Britain is, as the cover details, a three billion-year journey from the Outer Hebrides to the Thames Estuary, telling the story of how the land beneath our feet has shaped our past, present and future.
This hefty tome – Somerville’s 42nd book – spans several themes: travel, geology and history. His aim was to investigate how the land has impacted and, in the author’s words, “every aspect of human history from farming to house construction, the Industrial Revolution to the currant climate crisis”.
Somerville begins his journey at the three billion-year-old rocks of Lewis, travelling south-easterly across bogs, over peaks and past quarry pits to the furthest corner of Essex, where “new land is being formed by nature and man”.
Not being a geologist, I was concerned this element within the book might be too dry and technical but, thankfully, Somerville does an excellent job demystifying the subject. Throughout, his skill at creating striking images in one’s mind brings the landscapes to life and, in the process, pleases me because my main objective in reviewing this book was to find out how much it would satisfy those readers most looking forward to the travel aspect of Somerville’s journey.
Overall, I enjoyed taking this lengthy journey with Christopher Somerville. After all, when it’s a book by this experienced Bristol-based writer, you know you’re in for a good read. Here at Travellowdown, we certainly recommend this tome.
Walking the Bones of Britain by Christopher Somerville is published in hardback by Doubleday, price £25.