Seeking a temporary escape from the city and a world gone mad, Alan Brown plots out a personal challenge: an epic coast-to-coast trip through the lonely interior of the Highlands. He traverses paths historic and new, eschewing creature comforts and high-tech gear, trusting his (mostly) serviceable bike and his own skills. Armed with the essentials and a sense of curiosity, he discovers more about nature, people, our country, risk and himself than he ever thought possible. Alan traces a route from Argyllshire's Loch Etive across remote Rannoch moors, dramatic Grampian terrain and the beautiful glens of Strathspey to reach the Moray Firth at Findhorn. Ready for all weathers and obstacles, he succumbs to the hypnotic daily routine of ride, eat, sleep, repeat. He's savouring the landscapes, the wildlife and the solitude, and relishing the self-reliance. He is also picking up clues to past lives and discovering how the land has been altered by industry and game sports or, sometimes, conserved for wildlife and trees.
- Paperback | 232 pages
- 129 x 198 x 22mm | 224g
- 21 Mar 2019
- Glasgow, United Kingdom
- Eight pages of colour images
"An outstanding debut, brimming with charming anecdotes, helpful advice and poignant discussions about Scotland and the UK today, making it a timely read." Chiara Bullen, The Great Outdoors; "The perfect read for cycling and adventure lovers." Kenny Smith, Scottish Field; "Filled with enticing descriptions of extraordinary terrain, basic refuges, wonderful wildlife, colourful characters ... An enjoyable account of an epic journey." Julie Rand, Cycle magazine;"A challenging cycle through near-wilderness ... [Alan Brown] returns with a laudable vision to see the Highlands criss-crossed with cycling paths that would reconnect an increasingly isolated urbanised population with the natural world." Helen Moat, BBC Countryfile magazine; "Cycling and walking are the best ways of truly appreciating a place. In Overlander, Alan Brown has written a hugely readable account of what he hears, sees, smells and thinks of the present and the past in a traverse from west to east coast by bike. His sensitive, personal and culturally informed observations on the landscapes, wildlife and people he encounters is an eloquent reminder of the wonderful country we live in and how much it has to offer our bodies and our souls. Time to get on my bike." Andy Wightman MSP; "If this book convinces me of anything it is this. Riding a bike across Scotland's byways offers endless possibilities for exploration, adventure and fun and most importantly, offers the opportunity to read the small print of our highland landscape. Overlander is a remarkable book, the tale of a strenuous mini-adventure and a clarion call to those who manage our upland areas." Cameron McNeish; "Overlander cheerfully debunks much of the off-putting preciousness of the hardcore cycling fraternity to return cross-country cycling to what it should be ... Alan Brown traces a new/old Scotland through a network of coffin paths, estate tracks, drove roads, military roads, disused railway beds and sheer bog. It's an uplifting account ... A very timely reminder that inactivity and loss of contact with nature are bigger threats than most small accidents." Lesley Riddoch
About Alan Brown
Born and brought up in Aberdeen, Alan Brown left to study environmental and then physical chemistry in Edinburgh, spurred on by a desire to know the particular workings of the world. He then worked as a research chemist, and later translator, in France for a few years where he developed a lifelong passion for the country's language, culture and literature. Having initially sought refuge from the instabilities of academic life in Edinburgh's financial and cultural institutions he then became a freelance programmer, analyst and change manager before giving in to the urge to write. The place of bicycles in a mentally and physically healthy life and in the circular economy of liveable cities is another enduring passion, and Overlander, his first published work, is in part an attempt to express the deep joy that can come from cycling an ordinary bike over any terrain, but especially through our hills and forests.