Doubling Back is an unusually personal book about walking, in that many of the walks described in it might not have made it into other writers' books. This is by no means intended as a criticism: these walks were important enough to Cracknell to write about, which is the best reason I can think of for reading about them.
The ten walks take place mainly in Great Britain, although there are excursions to Norway, Spain, Africa, and the Swiss Alps. Each one attempts to recreate, or at least celebrate, a journey made by one or more previous walkers (including, in some cases, Cracknell herself).
Although I'm usually shamelessly parochial in my reading preferences, the standout chapters to me were both set abroad: a walk retracing the wartime escape route taken through Norway by the father of one of Cracknell's friends; and an approximate recreation of an alpine climbing expedition led by Cracknell's own father in Switzerland in 1952. But I also enjoyed some of the less spectacular walks, especially following in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy and his wife in Cornwall, and a clamber over the hills above Loch Ness in Jessie Kesson country (no, me neither).
An enjoyable read.
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Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.
“…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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