Like Russell George, my husband and I made the epic journey from John O'Groats to Land's End. Unlike George, we didn't walk it. We enjoyed the trip from the comfort of our car. I saw this book offered on NetGalley and it peaked my interest. Thank you to Troubadour Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to review Footsteps in Summer.
PLOT - A recently retired Russell George, decided to attempt the famous 950 mile walk from John O' Groats in Scotland to Land's End in England. Although he did some distance training to prep for the solo journey, he did not consider himself an athlete and had never attempted a long distance walk. He did the walk to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK, wearing a tee-shirt from the organization and carrying a sign of explanation on his backpack. George used his own funds for the trip and rather than camping, he opted to book hotels/inns for each night. He spent a great deal of time in the preplanning stage, picking the best places to stay and the best equipment. He was happy to have only needed his rain gear a few times, although sometimes the heat was unbearable! The walk took him two months and he was frequently joined by friends and family for portions of the trip. In the end, George raised eighteen thousand pounds for Cancer Research UK, which was eight thousand over his goal.
LIKED - The book is written like a travel diary, giving day-by-day accounts of the trip. I liked how George frequently added detailed Historical information about the towns that he was visiting. It made me aware of places in the UK that I will now want to visit in the future, many of them off the beaten path. It's easy to get excited for George, as he attempts this incredibly long walk to raise money for charity. I enjoyed hearing about the strangers that helped him out. It's a feel good story. On a personal note, since we visited many of the same places, it was fun for me to remember my own trip to the same towns. If this books makes you inspired to go to John O'Groats ( and you should), The Anchorage B&B was awesome and run by the nicest family!
DISLIKED - The travel diary style was frequently tedious to read, especially as George recounts every meal and every beer in every pub. It's like when a friend tells you about their vacation and makes you sit through every photo in their album. I think this could have been eased, if George had a little more finesse with the writing. I never felt like George was ever in serious trouble or even had a bad day. George was a very upbeat and positive person. This lack of drama also added to the tedium. The minor problems, like not being able to get lunch or issues with his shoes, were glossed over. I suspect that he was keeping it upbeat since he was promoting the charity and also because he had met so many kind people on the road who might read this book. Although, it would have been a more entertaining read, if he had encountered some real issues.
RECOMMEND - I'd recommend Footsteps in Summer, if you're a long distance walker or if you're considering attempting a similar walk. You also might enjoy it, if you're from the parts of the UK where George traveled. To most readers, even ones who like travel writing, I'm not sure that this book should be at the top of your list. I think George has a fascinating story, but it's probably one that would be better told in person ( a condensed version), rather than reading it in a book.