Review: Space to Wonder, A guide to trekking the mountain frontier of the Pyrenees, by Gordon Wilson

From the emails it is clear that the planning season for high mountain treks has started. So, here’s a book that is very welcome, socially if you are now obsessed with land speed records or take a more relaxed attitude to hiking than many. If hotel, refuges and refugees are more your thing than, say, a bivy up high — well, this is a boo for you.

I have to confess to having a problem with some guide books and even, to some extent, trails. The speed at which some people tackle their adventures makes me wonder whether they ever have the time to properly take in both the scenery and the culture of the land they are walking through. There is one guidebook, in particular, that aides eyebrows and complaints. The author is keen on long, fast and hard days. When he says you might break the day here this is where most of us would stay. Trekking does not have to be a particularly challenging or endurance-based activity.

Gordon Wilson first tackled the Pyrenees in the 1990’s and it is clear from this book that a long term love affair has since developed. “This is a book for those whose enjoyment of the traverse also compromises embracing a fuller experience of the Pyrenees beyond physical endurance”.

What Gordon does is to tell you how the mountains work. He basically tells you what you need to know to tackle these hills. Yes, there is a lot of practical information here on travel, accommodation, gear, navigation and so on bt there is much more besides.

Gordon makes a good attempt at covering all bases. He talks about local history and culture and, most importantly, encourages us to explore these. He levels in the comradeship of the trail, of the joy of making new friends amongst the international hiking community. In short, he shares the ‘state of mind’ that he feels allows you to get the most of out these mountains. I couldn’t agree with him more. I was personally delighted reading this book and I often found myself with a big smile on my face as he described one of the little joys of the trail that I have so valued myself.

My own tastes are a little higher and wilder. Gordon has wild camped but not that much. He prefers life in the refugees, gites and small hotels. Some may scoff, but if you want to now how much to budget for when considering this kind of trek a real of this book is far more useful than a chat with me!

I wish there were more books like this. It provides a comprehensive guide to the long distance trails but is far better at most at describing the experience, planning for a more leisurely trip and preparing to deal with the natives!

Gordon reminds us that mountain hiking is something all of us can enjoy no matter what age we are so long as we are reasonably fit (although not obsessively so). This is a comprehensive and well written book, a joy to read and one that should take a lot of fear our of preparations.

This seems to be self published but it is available through Amazon.

Highly recommended.



  1. bryony1963 says

    Great suggestion – it’s also available on Nook which is where I’ve just bought it!

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