Talking the Woods and the Water

7 March 2014

on the road

Over the coming months I'll be hopping around the country doing readings from the book and speaking about the journey. Here's the tour schedule so far:

Wednesday 26th March -- Oxford Literary Festival, Oxford 6pm

Tuesday 1st April -- Hungerford Bookshop, Hungerford 7.30pm

Thursday April 3rd -- Book launch at London Review Bookshop, London 7pm

Tuesday 8th April -- London Book Fair, London 12am

Wednesday 14th May -- Mr B's Emporium, Bath

Saturday 17th May -- Carrying the Fire, South Lanarkshire

Wednesday 28th May -- Broadway Bookshop, London

Sunday 8th June -- Dovedale Arts Festival, Derbyshire 12am

Saturday 9th August -- Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire 6.40pm

Sunday 21st September -- Walking and Books Festival, North Yorkshire

Saturday 4th October -- Globetrotters Club, London

Friday 10th October -- Malmesbury Philosophytown Festival, Malmesbury

Thursday 30th October -- Wantage Betjeman Literary Festival, Wiltshire

If you'd like to book me to come and talk -- whether at a festival, bookshop, front room or field -- please get in touch!

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Interview in The Bookseller

21 February 2014

An interview with me features in the current issue of The Bookseller. My book is officially 'free from Daily Mail/ UKIP-esque jingoism'! Glad they picked up on that.

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3 February 2014


The launch of Walking the Woods and the Water will be on Thursday 3rd April, at the London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury.

I'm very happy to announce that I'll be joined 'in conversation' by Artemis Cooper, author of Paddy's biography and co-compiler of The Broken Road. Get your ticket early. There will be some merrymaking afterwards.

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Vivid and hard-won! First review

20 January 2014

Condé Nast 'Best New Travel Titles'

Condé Nast Traveller has featured my book as one of its 'Best New Travel Titles' -- chosen by Last King of Scotland author Giles Foden.

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The Bookseller Pick of the Month

15 January 2014

The Bookseller clipping

Walking the Woods and the Water has been chosen as Editor's Pick of the Month in The Bookseller -- very exciting news.

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Interview in Telegraph Travel

30 October 2013

To coincide with the long-awaited publication of The Broken Road, I was interviewed by The Telegraph Travel a couple of weeks ago. You can read it online here.

In other news, the last draft of my own book is underway and going well (publication is still set for spring 2014). I’ve just got back from Romania after the amazing Transylvanian Book Festival, written up wryly and wittily by Thomas Hodgkinson in The Spectator here. More soon…

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New publisher, new title

27 June 2013

I'm thrilled to announce that, after a period of waiting and wrangling almost as long as the walk itself, I have a new publisher for my book. Nicholas Brealey Publishing will publish the story of my walk in spring 2014 under the title:

Walking the Woods and the Water In Patrick Leigh Fermor's footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn

Nicholas is an excellent editor with a sharp eye for revisions and changes and a strong sense of what my walk was about. Many thanks to him, and to my agent Andrew Hayward for believing so powerfully in this project.

Look out for updates on the book's progress over the next few months. There will be a new website before long, and talks and storytelling gigs coming up. My boots are shortly to feature in an art gallery in Brighton, along with some of the sounds from my walk... more on this soon. 

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Transylvanian Book Festival

7 June 2013

The first-ever Transylvanian Book Festival is taking place in September. I'm very honoured to be included in a line-up of incredible authors including Artemis Cooper, Roy Foster, Jessica Douglas-Home and William Blacker.

As I hope  the articles I wrote on the road made clear, Romania is a special place, from deep green Transylvania and the ghosts of vanished cultures to the wolfish Carpathian mountains. If you've never been before, this festival provides a perfect opportunity to come.

'Surrounded by beech and oak forests and the tranquillity of this great medieval landscape – the last in Europe – writers and audiences will have unrivalled opportunity for discussions and discoveries among the beautiful Saxon villages of Copsa Mare, Biertan and Richis. All three villages are linked by a narrow road along the valley with gentle rolling hills anciently terraced for vines, rising on either side...'

You can find out more, and book tickets, here.

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Up Down and Across

20 April 2013

If you're free and in London on 11th May, I'm taking part in Up Down and Across -- an evening of talks, performances and art about walking in Westminster Reference Library.

I'll be talking about roads, landscape, stories and other things relating to my walk to Istanbul. Other participants are mountaineer David Lintern, performer Ingrid Plum, artist Foster Spragge and photographer Tim Mitchell, who's launching his limited edition photobook 'Up & Down the Pyrenees.' All proceeds from the event go to the music education charity Soundmix and the conservation charity The John Muir Trust.

You can book tickets here. Facebook page is here. See you there!

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My boots after two and a half thousand miles

20 February 2013


My feet came into intimate contact with the road on the final miles to Istanbul. Here are my boots after two and half thousand miles.

These glamorous portraits were taken by my friend Tim Mitchell, photographer and Pyrenean walker.

Boots Boots Boots Read and comment

Loose Words, Loose Noises

21 January 2013

Loose Words cover

Hello folks. To announce: I'm nearing the end of the first draft of my book about these travels. But in the meantime, I have another book to flog! Loose Words is a limited edition paperback -- lovingly homemade and hand-bound -- containing quotations from some of the weird and wonderful people I met on the road. I can make and send you a copy for the price of £8.00.

For an additional few quid, I'll include a CD of 'Loose Noises' -- the soundscapes of church bells, street musicians, political rallies, snarling dogs and drunken Bulgarian mountain songs I recorded on my journey. It's seven and a half months of walking compressed into forty minutes of sound.

Limited edition copy of Loose Words: £8.00

Loose Words plus 'Loose Noises' CD: £11.00

(inclusive of postage)

Email me at to place an order. Thanks, all. x

Loose Words Loose Words Loose Words Read and comment

Following the unfollowable

18 October 2012

Last night I was at the book launch for Artemis Cooper's amazing biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor, An Adventure. I was honoured to be interviewed, alongside Colin Thubron and Robert MacFarlane, for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 -- you can hear it here.

It was wonderful to gather with people who knew and loved him well. Artemis told me she keeps the postcard I sent her from Heidelberg's Roten Ochsen Inn inside her first-edition copy of A Time of Gifts. That means a lot.

The evening made me think a lot about what I'm setting out to do with my own writing. As reviews like this make clear, Paddy was a towering figure both in literature and in life, and his presence over my work could perhaps be seen as daunting. But last night really helped bring home what my book is about, and what it's not.

For a start, it's not biographical. I'm not writing about Paddy, or even writing about his writing, but about his journey and all the wonder, mystery, wildness and adventure that it opened up for me.

It's not about history, as such. Obviously history underlay every step I took on the road -- history was in every hill I climbed, and every face I saw. Of course I'm writing with awareness of immense historical change, and much of my journey involved searching through history's rubble, both in reality and in imagination. But a book can be saturated in history without being a 'book about history.' I'm less concerned with 'history' than with 'stories,' and especially with the border -- far more porous than we know -- between history and myth.

Colin Thubron spoke last night of how Paddy is 'a marvellous example of somebody who can't be followed.' This is in my mind as I write -- following the unfollowable. I did follow Paddy's path, but where it leads me will be somewhere else entirely. I followed his route, but the journey is my own. I have to let my story tell itself -- and afterwards, when it's told, I can let Paddy's presence back in to illuminate what it needs to. 

Now I'm six rough chapters into my book, and have retraced my own journey as far as Budapest. I'm loving every minute of it. 

Expect updates soon on publishing news. Until then, I strongly recommend you buy a copy of Artemis' book. It's a journey in itself.

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