Stocking Fillers: Our Recommended Outdoor Books

It’s that time of year again! If you are looking for some stocking fillers, here are some Outdoor Books that we’ve read and enjoyed in 2012.

Our Recommendation

Ireland’s County High Points: A Walking Guide by Kieron Gribbon
A fantastic guidebook for anyone considering or in the process of ‘doing’ the County Tops of Ireland. The book contains a detailed section on each County Top of Ireland which provides you with all the essential information you’ll need to tackle each walk. Each section contains clear and concise route information along with distances, expected times and easy to read maps.

Some of the Tops offer great walks despite their lack of height. For example, the beautiful Mullaghmeen in Westmeath, which at a modest 258 metres is the lowest of Ireland’s County Tops, offers a superb walk through Europe’s largest beech plantation. Others Tops contain a wealth of history such as Loughcrew, the highest point in County Meath and the site of impressive passage tombs dating back to 3300 B.C.

The higher tops, such as the Mighty Mweelrea, offer some of the most challenging hill-walking in Ireland whilst others, such as Errigal, are among the most iconic mountains in the whole of the country. The distribution of the mountains and hills means that you get to visit (and perhaps holiday in) many parts of Ireland that you might not have otherwise considered.

The final section of the book provides a number of challenges in which you can combine several of the County Tops and the final neat touch is a ‘tick-list’ on which you can mark each Top as you complete it.

The book is available from Amazon at: Ireland’s County High Points: A Walking Guide (Walking Guides). The Kindle version is available at: Ireland’s County High Points – A Walking Guide (Walking Guides)

Mud, Sweat and Tears – An Irish Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery by Moire O’ Sullivan
An absolute gem of a book which is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in trail running or adventure sports. Mud, Sweat and Tears is
the author’s account of her experiences on the Irish hill-running and adventure sports circuit. This culminates in a fascinating description of Moire’s obsession and attempt of the Wicklow Round, a challenge involving running over 26 of Ireland’s remotest Mountains in a distance spanning 100 kilometres, all within a seemingly impossible 24 hours.

Among all the tales of pain, torture and suffering and the familiar descriptions of wind, rain and mist that the Irish Mountains can throw at you, Moire’s love of the sport as well as her passion, admiration and respect for these same mountains shines through. Moire also successfully conveys the fleeting moments of beauty that only these high places can serve up and which make all the hard work and dedication worthwhile.

Probably the biggest compliment I can pay the book is that it gave me the inspiration to take up hill-running which led to me spending a number of Wednesday evenings competing in the IMRA Summer League. If you haven’t yet dabbled in the sport, there is every possibility that this book will also
give you the inspiration to do so. I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

The book is available on paperback at Mud, Sweat and Tears – An Irish Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery or for Kindle at Mud, Sweat and Tears – an Irish Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery

Paddle: A long way around Ireland by Jasper Winn
Another teriffic book which gives an account of the author’s brave and slightly insane solo trip around the coast of Ireland in a Kayak. The author strikes a great balance between accounts of time spent at sea fighting a mixture of boredom and adrenaline whilst vying with tides, wind, and waves and time spent ashore exploring the coastline. A great read for the winter nights.

You can buy the book from Amazon at Paddle: A long way around Ireland.
The kindle version is available at: Paddle: A long way around Ireland

Tipperary & Waterford: A Walking Guide (Walking Guides)
Another walking guidebook from Collins Press, this one details twenty-three quality routes of various grades throughout Counties Tipperary and Waterford in the south of Ireland.

In the book, the author’s comprehensive knowledge of the local area shines through as he offers route-choices to suit all abilities. From the rugged Comeragh coums to the impressive peaks of the Galtees, from myth-laden Slievenamon and the Devil’s Bit to field systems and ancient pathways in Upperchurch and Kilcommom, the author combines route-details with interesting pieces of information which will be ofinterest to not just hill-walkers but also to environmentalists, historians and all who wish to better understand the age-old and complexinteraction between humans and hills

You can get the book at Tipperary & Waterford: A Walking Guide (Walking Guides).

From High Places: A Journey Through Ireland’s Great Mountains
The perfect book to pass the long and dark Winter evenings. ‘From High Places’ is a wonderful celebration of Ireland’s High Mountains by Adrian Hendroff. Beautifully illustrated, the book is a reminder of just how unique and varied the mountain landscapes of Ireland are.

The book can be purchased at: From High Places: A Journey Through Ireland’s Great Mountains

The Prize-Winners

Recently, the National Outdoor Book Awards released its picks for this year’s best books. The list includes 15 winners and honorable mentions in nine categories like natural history, outdoor adventure guidebooks, instructional books, nature and environment and children’s books. The highest honor—the Outdoor Literature Award—is a two-way tie. The winners are as follows:

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts

In the summer of 1993, author Suzanne Roberts and two other women set out on a month-long backpack trip in California’s Sierra Mountains. Almost Somewhere is Robert’s introspective and no-holds-barred account of that journey and the interactions between the three women. What emerges is a revealing and insightful coming-of-age portrait of women of the post baby boom generation. Roberts obsesses with her weight, competes openly with other women for men, and grapples with conflicted views of sex and relationships. One of the other women struggles with bulimia.

This is life in an outdoor setting from a feminine perspective: anxiety over strange men met along the way and the challenges of long days on the trail — can Robert’s weakening knees and the health of her bulimic friend hold up to the end? The dialog, the imagery, and the story are so well done and so absorbing that men and women of all generations will find it a satisfying and fulfilling literary treat.

The book can be purchased at: Almost Somewhere: Twenty-eight Days on the John Muir Trail

The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier
The Ledge is story telling at its finest.  Jim Davidson is descending from a climb of Mount Rainier when he plunges into a crevasse, pulling his partner in with him.  Davidson survives the fall, but unknown to him at the time, his pack has stopped him, wedging between two walls of ice.  Below him is an abyss.  Shortly after he stops, a small avalanche of snow covers him completely.  Then his partner hurtles down and lands on top.  Somehow Davidson must dig himself out of the snow, provide aid to his critically injured partner, and plan a way to climb out — all the while, delicately balanced on his pack.  His is a struggle that involves all of his faculties and which alternates between hope, despair, and terror.  From start to finish, this is a story that will hold you spellbound.

You can purchase the book at The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier

If you have any suggestion for Outdoor books, please feel free to comment below.