The January Man
January 12th 2017 | Doubleday | Hardbacks
The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, region by region, and season by season, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that remind him of his father. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn where he ran wild as a boy to the springtime lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, changing landscapes and people he passes, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair-weather.
As he journeys along some of the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, Christopher reflects on his childhood and his relationship with his father, John. John was from a generation of men whose children found them hard to fathom – he never spoke about the war and lived by a code of modesty and reticence – yet as Christopher travels over the hills and along they by-ways, he gradually begins to understand the ‘man inside the man’ that his father really was.
The January Man is a powerful, lyrical year-round evocation of the countryside of the British Isles and a testament to the power of walking in forging connections between people.
Author Christopher Somerville has an unrivalled knowledge of the paths and byways of the British Isles and has been a national newspaper Walking Correspondent for over 25 years. He is one of the UK’s most respected and prolific travel writers and the author of 36 books.
"Christopher Somerville’s moving, measured and immaculate The January Man is part walker’s diary, part celebration of his reticent yet loving father, and part…well, anything that takes his fancy and ours. But most of all it is a tender rumination on the One Big Thing that troubles all of us when we put on our hiking boots – and that’s mortality."
- Jim Crace, award-winning author of Continent, Quarantine, Being Dead, Harvest
"A rich and wonderful book which draws on Christopher Somerville’s unusually deep knowledge of Britain’s hidden pathways."
- Hugh Thomson, author of The Green Road into the Trees