Wild Nights: Camping Britain’s Extremes by Phoebe Smith
Another book in my binge of nature/travel writing, this time an attempt to escape the city overnight and camp out in the extremities of my island home.
This book pretty much does what it says on the tin: camping wild in Britain at some of its most extreme places; meaning the most northerly point of Britain, its centre and others like Ben Nevis and Lizard Point.
As a whole this book was quite entertaining, it was interesting to see what kinds of extremes Britain has to offer and to get a small lesson in history alongside the excursions.
But I did think that there was an element missing – something to tie the entire book together. I think that I was expecting, and hoping, for some sort of emotional element to tie everything together – some sort of journey that we go on with Phoebe that culminates at the end of the book. As it was the challenge that Phoebe sets herself doesn’t seem to have any life-affirming or life-changing effect on her – it’s more of a challenge that she’s set for herself that she’s set to complete – and as such the different sleeps feel episodic and like we’re being shown holiday snaps.
Having said that it was good to see these holiday snaps – some of the places she’s gone were very interesting and I’ve marked them down for myself as potential holiday destinations!
I found that Phoebe Smith’s writing left a little something to be desired. There was nothing wrong with her writing, it was all perfectly understandable and coherent, but I was hoping for something a little more wistful or poetic. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled with the prose of Robert MacFarlane and John Lewis-Stempel!
Overall, this book was enjoyable but I was hoping for something more out of it. I didn’t feel that there was enough emotional push beyond setting herself up for a challenge to get herself out there again and I was hoping for eloquent prose.
If you’re looking for a decent read and aren’t worried about how polished the prose is, or perhaps want to explore the extremities of Britain with a tour guide from the comfort of your favourite reading nook then I’d suggest you look at this. But if you’re after a journey that takes you all across Britain and has deep emotional ties to the narrator with fine, honey prose then it might be worth looking elsewhere.