The Farthest Shore by Alex Roddie (Read by Alex Wingfield)
In February 2019, award-winning writer Alex Roddie left his online life behind when he set out to walk 300 miles through the Scottish Highlands, seeking solitude and answers. In leaving the chaos of the internet behind for a month, he hoped to learn how it was truly affecting him – or if he should look elsewhere for the causes of his anxiety.
The Farthest Shore is the story of Alex’s solo trek along the remote Cape Wrath Trail. As he journeyed through a vanishing winter, Alex found answers to his questions, learnt the nature of true silence, and discovered frightening evidence of the threats faced by Scotland’s wild mountain landscape.
My Rating: ⭐⭐
I came across this book from a recommendation on Splodz Blogz a couple of weeks ago. Having just finished Wild and watched YouTuber Haze Outdoors’ videos of walking the Cape Wrath Trail I thought it would be right up my street.
This author and Haze Outdoors definitely seem to be very different characters but I was still surprised by the differences in how the two people approached the walk and their experiences on it. Haze very much camped for the majority of the trail and also immersed himself in the experience, the land and devoted his story to the experience of completing the trail. Roddie on the other hand used this book to talk more about his motivation for walking the trail and his own very personal experience which was more about a changing outlook on life that happened along the trail. He made extensive use of bothies along the trail rather than relying on camping and took almost 3 times as long. That was probably a consequence of the different times of year as much as the different walkers.
As I was expecting more of a trail story I was a bit disappointed by this book. I was expecting and hoping for something more like the aforementioned Wild or even The Last Englishman but didn’t get it. I thought that the book was written more as a way to justify the author’s expedition and to fund the cost of it. Now, that is his career and I can understand the need for it, but I think this was more of a personal journey that didn’t need to be a book. While I have sympathy for his struggles with anxiety I couldn’t help but feel that much of it was either self-imposed by his view of social media or coming from a totally unrelated source. Maybe if I had a similar struggle I could have related and empathised more.
I also struggled with the overly flowery language he used. It reminded me of Steve Backshall’s book Expedition that I eventually gave up on. This author had the same tendency to over describe the most normal of occurrences. Everything seemed to be the most wonderful or the most terrible rather than just depicting it as it was. His occasional forays into a very mystical view of nature and wildlife left me rolling my eyes and tempted to switch off.
This is the author’s second book based on walking The Cape Wrath Trail. It’s possible he didn’t want to rehash the story of the original but for me this approach simply didn’t land. I think I’d like to try his first book though and see what it’s like and how they differ.
Header image source: fossbytes.com