What would it be like to take a book out for a walk – to relive it, to revisit the places it visits, to be inside the story it tells? We plan to find out, using one of the UK’s most loved adventure books as our guide.
The book in question is the spectacular Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, a book which can lay claim to being the first spy thriller (if you don’t count Kim by Rudyard Kipling). Set along the windswept sea shores and islands of Germany’s Baltic and North Sea coasts, the story has two British heroes, Carruthers and Davies, stumbling onto a conspiracy which could change the world.
“YACHTING IN THE BALTIC AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER! THE VERY IDEA MADE ONE SHUDDER.”
We – Lloyd Shepherd & Tim Wright – aim to walk, cycle and sail a route from Flensburg to Ostamahorn using only the book as our guide – stopping when night falls in one chapter and continuing the journey the next day, starting from the very next sentence in the book, in the exact same timeframe as the novel itself.
The Book: we’ve chopped up the book into sections based on dates and put it online for your reading pleasure. We’ll be using the text as the jumping off point for all kinds of plotting, debate and entertaining historical and locational research.
The Blog: From March to September 2015, we’re going to keep an open Logbook (or Blog!) about our preparations for getting out into Riddle of the Sands country. Every week before we set off in September, we’ll publish a podcast about our plans, share new thoughts about the book and get advice from you about how we should go about things.
The Handbook: We’re also going to develop a definitive Handbook that will cover all the topics, ideas, historical objects, locations and themes that abound within Riddle of the Sands. Week by week we’ll follow leads within the text in order to share links and discuss issues – sailing, Anglo-German relations, pre-war tensions, disputed territories, propaganda – and we’ll explore the sensational life of its author Erskine Childers.
The Handbook Edition: All this material will go to producing the Handbook Edition of Riddle of the Sands – a deluxe edition of the novel that will include a whole range of extra material: a guide to the places featured in the book; a travelogue of our adventures reliving its events; a set of fascinating historical anecdotes that put the book into context. There’ll also by practical information about planning your own adventure – boat hire, cycle paths, hotels, B&Bs, places to visit. And there’ll be pictures and, of course, maps. Lots and lots of maps.
PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE HANDBOOK EDITION & FOLLOW THE ADVENTURE: LIVE!
Before the Adventure starts for real, everything on this site will be free – anyone can join in the fun by posting a comment or sharing your knowledge & enthusiasm with the rest of us.
But on September 23, when Lloyd and Tim get out there and the Adventure begins, only those who have pledged support for the Handbook Edition – will be able to access the site and, for a month, follow our adventures in northern Germany, as we seek to follow in the footsteps (or rather the wake) of Carruthers and Davies.
Full details of how you can pledge your support are coming soon.
There’ll be videos, photos, blog posts and, most importantly, we’ll be reading the book, day-by-day, from the very places it describes. By the end of the adventure – on October 26 – we’ll have a full unabridged atmospheric audiobook recorded out in the field. If you’re feeling particularly daring, we’ll also be publishing our location and route day by day, so you could even come out and join us!
What are you waiting for? Join the Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club today and help us make a great novel become an even greater manual for action and adventure.