Walkers, mountain climbers, and anyone interested in a fascinating yarn will relish Nicholas Crane's book, 'Two Degrees West'.
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The 'two degrees west' of the title is the line of longitude marked on the Ordnance Survey maps, where it is referred to as the central meridian or the line of zero convergence. It cuts a straight course 600 kilometres from Northumberland's north-west coast by Berwick-upon-Tweed to the Isle of Purbeck on the English channel.
The author, an experienced climber and walker, decides to follow this meridian on foot, allowing himself to deviate only 1 degree in either direction. He never comprises his mandate, even when needing food or clothing, thus putting himself in some hilarious predicaments.
His journey leads him through Northumberland's moors, Yorkshire's dales, the Black Country, Cotswold's hills, and down through Salisbury to Dorset.
Along the way he meets interesting characters and many physical challenges, not the least of which is crossing military practice ranges. The reader is drawn into the journey, as Crane's perseverance in the face of these obstacles becomes a reason for cheering him onward toward success.
Colour photographs and maps tracing the route add to the experience.
If you enjoy this offbeat travel book, be sure to purchase the author's other book, 'Clear Waters Rising' about his journey over Europe's mountains.
Two Degrees West
First published by Viking, 1999
Published by Penguin 2000
Bookcover courtesy Penguin Press