ABOUT MY TRIP
I've done a couple of interviews about the reasons behind my trip, which you can see here:
- An interview with Katy MacMillan-Scott, Slightly Foxed
- A love letter to Harriet: meet the woman walking 2,500 miles in memory of her best friend, Stylist Magazine
- Why I am undertaking a literary expedition from Rotterdam to Istanbul in memory of my best friend, Lonely Planet
- Why I'm walking from Rotterdam to Istanbul, A Girl's Guide to Travelling Alone
The wonderful Slightly Foxed also commissioned some wonderful readings from Dame Sian Philips and Robert Macfarlane to mark the start of my trip. They can be found here.
THE BOOKS THAT INSPIRED IT
In 1933, at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on an extraordinary journey by foot - from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul (or Constantinople, as he insisted on calling it).
A Time of Gifts
A Time of Gifts is the first volume in a trilogy recounting the trip, and takes the reader with him as far as Hungary. It is a book of compelling glimpses - not only of the events which were curdling Europe at that time, but also of its resplendent domes and monasteries, its great rivers, the sun on the Bavarian snow, the storks and frogs, the hospitable burgomasters who welcomed him, and that world's grandeurs and courtesies. His powers of recollection have astonishing sweep and verve, and the scope is majestic.
Between the Woods and the Water
In Between the Woods and the Water, the second volume, Paddy picks up from the very spot on a bridge across the Danube where his readers last saw him. We travel on with him across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania.
The trip was an exploration of a continent which was already showing signs of the holocaust which was to come. Although frequently praised for his lyrical writing, Fermor's account also provides a coherent understanding of the dramatic events then unfolding in Middle Europe. But the delight remains in travelling with him in his picaresque journey past remote castles, mountain villages, monasteries and towering ranges.
After his walk across Europe, Patrick Leigh Fermor lived and travelled in the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago. In the Second World War he joined the Irish Guards, became a liaison officer in Albania and fought in Greece and Crete - living disguised as a shepherd in the mountains for two years organising resistance activities. He was awarded the DSO and CBE, and a knighthood in the 2004 New Year Honours List. He died in June 2011, at the age of 96.
If you would like to read more of Paddy's work, or books inspired by it, I recommend the following. All of these are available through the Slightly Foxed online bookshop.
- A TIME OF GIFTS BY PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
- BETWEEN THE WOODS AND THE WATER BY PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
- THE BROKEN ROAD BY PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
- WALKING THE WOODS AND THE WATER BY NICK HUNT
- THE GIFTS OF READING BY ROBERT MACFARLANE (LIMITED EDITION)
- PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR: NOBLE ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN BUDAPEST AND TRANSYLVANIA BY MICHAEL O'SULLIVAN
They have also included some recommended reads along the theme, many from brilliant travel publisher Eland, such as Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt and Penelope Chetwode's Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalucia.
Stanfords - the travel bookshop - has stocks some of the best travel writing and fiction from inspirational women. From established 20th century adventurers like Amelia Earhart, Martha Gellhorn and Jan Morris to contemporary writers such as Amy Liptrot, Alex Heminsley and my friend Amy Baker, there's something for everyone.
For an introduction to some other extraordinary lady adventurers (of the more old school tradition), I'd also recommend:
If you are interested in finding out more about Paddy Leigh Fermor, then I would also thoroughly recommend the following:
- Everyone fell in love with Paddy Leigh Fermor, Daily Telegraph
- Patrick Leigh Fermor: An adventure, by Artemis Cooper, The Independent
- On the trail of Patrick Leigh Fermor in Greece, The Guardian
- A Visit with Patrick Leigh Fermor, Part 1, The Paris Review
- The Inspired Voyage of Patrick Leigh Fermor, New York Review of Books
- My hero: Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Guardian
ABOUT OTHERS RE-TRACING HIS ROUTE
- The Broken Road: retracing the steps of a wild adventure, Daily Telegraph
- Go east – the people get nicer, even if their dogs get nastier, The Spectator
- Frugal Europe, on foot, New York Times
- On the trail of a literary legend in Greece's most savagely beautiful corner, Daily Telegraph