‘This is the book that has been wanting to be written for decades: the ragged fringe of Britain as a laboratory for the human spirit’ Adam Nicolson
Over the course of a year, leading historian and nature writer David Gange kayaked the weather-ravaged coasts of Atlantic Britain and Ireland from north to south: every cove, sound, inlet, island.
The idea was to travel slowly and close to the water: in touch with both the natural world and the histories of communities on Atlantic coastlines. The story of his journey is one of staggering adventure, range and beauty. For too long, Gange argues, the significance of coasts has been underestimated, and the potential of small boats as tools to make sense of these histories rarely explored. This book seeks to put that imbalance right.
Paddling alone in sun and storms, among dozens of whales and countless seabirds, Gange and his kayak travelled through a Shetland summer, Scottish winter and Irish spring before reaching Wales and Cornwall. Sitting low in the water, as did millions in eras when coasts were the main arteries of trade and communication, Gange describes, in captivating prose and loving detail, the experiences of kayaking, coastal living and historical discovery.
Drawing on the archives of islands and coastal towns, as well as their vast poetic literatures in many languages, he shows that the neglected histories of these stunning regions are of real importance in understanding both the past and future of the whole archipelago. It is a history of Britain and Ireland like no other.