Books are escape portals. They can inspire, guide, educate and fire the imagination; they can let you explore from your armchair or they can keep you company out in the wilds. From the beach to the mountaintop, on the deck of a boat, snug in your tent, or in an airport lounge waiting on a flight to somewhere incredible – books are the perfect adventure accessory.
Blacks Ambassador, Ian Finch, has travelled far and wide in pursuit of his own adventure story. Here, at the start of a new year of travel, we take a moment to ask Ian about the books that inspire(d) him to pick up his pack.
Kings of The Yukon - Adam Weymouth
This book recounts an epic journey down the 200 miles of the mighty Yukon River. For four months Adam Weymouth explored the river's path through untamed wilderness, tracing the relationship between the river and the life it sustains. He paints a sombre picture of the modern world's trespass upon a traditional way of life, most apparent in the dwindling population of king salmon that once thrived in the Yukon. Weymouth paints the beauty and laments the loss of a true wilderness.
Ian says: I met Adam on the Yukon River when he was researching this book. In fact, he was writing about the same subject matter I was there to research on both of our 2000-mile canoe descent. He's produced a marvellous account of the connection between the Yukon's people, the river, and the salmon that provide a way of life.
The Natural Navigator - Tristan Gooley
Tristan Gooley introduces you to the art of finding your way. Using a mixture of folklore, history and science, Gooley alerts you to the signposts that are all around you. From finding north by examining a puddle to checking which side of tree points south, The Natural Navigator is an essential guide to GPS-less navigation.
Ian says: - It's a beautiful insight into the timeless art of navigation using features & clues within the natural landscape.
The Hidden Life of Trees - Peter Wohlleben
Forget Instagram, trees as the true social network. This is the case made by Peter Wohlleben, who suggests that there is so much we don't know about trees: their communication, their family dynamics and their ability to share. Along the way Wohlleben paints a compelling picture of the natural wooded landscape that he loves.
Ian says: A book that blew my mind within one chapter. The title says it all.
Trails, Trappers and Tenderfeet in the New Empire of Western Canada - Stanley Washburn
Stanley Washburn's book comes to you from the early part of the twentieth century when Canada was still a young country. His tales of frontier life in the wilderness of the West make for compelling reading. The maps and illustrations are worth the price alone – bringing the era to life and awakening the adventurer in anyone who traces a finger across the page to follow a river to its source.
Ian says: A majestic book from 1920 about the first fur trappers, the Washburn party into Western Canada. The images are incredible.
The Outer Hebrides: The Timeless Way - Peter Clarke
Clarke's book describes in detail his 230-mile journey through the Outer Hebrides. The journey progresses island by island and reveals the strata of life, history and ecology that make up this unique part of the British Isles. It's an evocative book, filled with anecdote and imagery, but it also serves as a highly useful guide for those wishing to undertake the journey (or part of it) themselves.
Ian says: I walked the length of the Hebrides in the summer of 2014 while reading this book and following its historical route. A beautiful way to see some of Scotland's most stunning islands.