Some words about my next book...
Where the Wild Winds Are is a book about following the wind. From 2015 to 2016 I walked the invisible pathways of four of Europe's named winds – the Helm, the Bora, the Foehn and the Mistral – to discover how they affect landscapes, peoples and cultures.
The Helm, Britain's only named wind, led to Cross Fell on the bleak moors of the Northern Pennines, in the footsteps of Vikings, Saxons, Cumbria's fearsome border reivers and the demons believed for centuries to inhabit the air. The freezing Bora led three hundred miles down the Adriatic coast through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, from the Latin to the Slavic, from the stony emptiness of the Karst plateau to a blizzard high on a Balkan mountain. The 'snow-eating' Foehn took me on a meandering path through the Alps, through Switzerland and Liechtenstein, where I experienced first-hand the symptoms of Föhnkrankheit, the notorious Foehn-sickness believed to cause everything from headaches to high murder rates. The Mistral, the 'wind of madness', blew me a hundred miles down the Rhône valley in the south of France, through the wild hills of Ardèche, into the vivid mental landscapes of Van Gogh.
These walks – from a lonely bothy on the fells to a cabinet of bottled airs in the backstreets of Trieste, from a blizzard on a Balkan mountain to the stony desolation of Western Europe’s only steppe – were journeys not only into wild wind, but into wild landscapes and the people who inhabit them: meteorologists, eccentric wind enthusiasts, mountain men and shepherds. They were also, inevitably, journeys into myself. Finally and unexpectedly, they were journeys into what I can only describe as animism, in the original sense of the word: an understanding of the world as a living, breathing body.
Where the Wild Winds Are will be published by Nicholas Brealey/ John Murray on 7 September 2017 in hardback, paperback and ebook.