Kendal Mountain Festival 2023

The Best New Books About Walking and Nature

When you're not out exploring, nothing beats curling up on the sofa with a hot drink and a good book. After all, reading's not just an opportunity to escape everyday life, it's a great way to inspire our future adventures.


The Kendal Mountain Book Festival forms part of the renowned Kendal Mountain Festival, an annual event that unfolds every November. Each year, the book festival celebrates nature writing, delving into our treasured landscapes, celebrating creativity, people, and places. With this year's theme being 'Joy', we've picked our favourite literature events on the programme that we're most excited about...

Join critically acclaimed author and explorer Levison Wood as he shares his experiences and learnings from a lifetime of travel; from his army career and the front-lines of Afghanistan to his photo-journalism assignments in the Congo and Nepal, as well as world-renowned expeditions through some of the most testing environments on earth, including the Nile, Himalayas and the Arabian peninsula.

When journalist Taran Khan arrives in Kabul, her walks take her to the unvisited tombs of the dead, and to the land of the living - like the booksellers, archaeologists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs who are remaking this 3,000-year-old city. Join Taran and hear what happened as NATO troops began to withdraw from the country, and Taran watched the cycle of transformation begin again.

a collage of 3 books: A race against time, finding hildasay and growing still
A collage of 3 nature books: the race against time, finding hildasay, glowing still

Richard Askwith

What do you do when the sport that has been your lifeline starts to slip away from you? Richard Askwith, a life-long running enthusiast, was at the point of giving up running for good. Then he came across the remarkable world of late-life athletics. Join us for an exhilarating story of one man's journey from despair to hope, explaining how timely adjustments to lifestyle can keep you running happily and healthily, all the way into old age. Although tickets for the festival event have now sold out, the book is one worth reading!

For over 60 years John Blashford-Snell CBE has conducted more than 100 expeditions for the purpose of scientific research and community aid. From exploring the Blue Nile in Ethiopia for Emperor Hailie Selassie, to delivering a grand piano to the Wai Wai in Guyana; to discovering mammoth-like elephants in Nepal. Newly back from his latest expedition in Bolivia, John will be bringing us remarkable tales from a life spent exploring some of the planet's most remote, inaccessible and dangerous places. 

Christian Lewis

Finding Hildasay: How One Man Walked The UK Coastline And Found Happiness

Join Christian Lewis on stage to hear his beautiful true story of survival, of how he walked 19,000 miles along the coast of Britain – his dog Jet in tow – and found a different way to live. From raising over a quarter of a million pounds for the veteran’s charity SSAFA to finding love with fellow adventurer, Kate, he had no idea that when he started this once-in-a-life-time experience he would be crossing the finish line (some five-and-a-half years later) with a fiancée, a baby and renewed sense of purpose. His story is one of survival and hope, but it’s also proof that anything is possible. Tickets to this event have sold out, but be sure to grab yourself a copy if you get the chance.

Sara Wheeler is one of Britain’s foremost travel writers. Join her on stage as she recounts a lifetime of epic travels; happy days on India’s Puri Express; an Antarctic lavatory through which a seal popped up; living the louche life of a Parisian shopgirl; corralling reindeer with the Sámi in Arctic Sweden; and towing her baby on a sledge where a helpful herdsman advised her to put foil down her bra to facilitate nursing.

Lee Craigie is one of Scotland’s great bike racers, yet she has accomplished much more since retiring. Join Lee on stage as she tells her story of how she raced into a new life of two-wheeled adventure to have a positive impact on the lives of others and hear epic tales of her adventures along the Tour Divide, the Silk Road and the Highland Trail 550. 

Bears have long held a central place in our collective memory, from Indigenous folklore and Greek mythology to mediaeval fairytales and the modern toy shop. But as humans and bears come into ever-closer contact, our relationship nears a tipping point. Today, only eight bear species remain. Join author Gloria Dickie on stage as she reveals our volatile relationship with these magnificent mammals, meeting figures on the front lines of conservation efforts - and what we risk losing if we don’t learn to live alongside them. 

A collage of 3 nature books: stone will answer, birdsplaining, eight bears

What is the difference between a birder, a bird watcher and a twitcher? Why do male birds always appear above female birds in classification guides? What is ‘birdsplaining’? And what about the colonial origins of ornithology? Join award-winning author Jasmine Donahaye on stage to explore birds, the history and politics of field guides, women’s particular experience of the natural world, and the meanings we borrow from animals. 

At the age of 26, stonemason Beatrice Searle embarked on an expedition like no other. Pulling along a 40-kilo stone from Orkney, she crossed the North sea and walked 500-miles on a mediaeval pilgrim path to Norway. Join Beatrice as she tells the story of her one-of-a-kind adventure. 

If you're attending Kendal Mountain Festival this year, you can find us at the bookshop in the Base Camp area - be sure to stop by and say hello!


There's still time to book tickets for the plethora of events taking place. Read the full festival programme here.

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