I’m David Gange, a historian and nature writer based at the University of Birmingham. From July 2016-July 2017, I kayaked the Atlantic edges of the British Isles researching the culture, history and natural history of those coastlines.
The project will soon be a book, published by Harper Collins, called The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel. The idea is to take very different places – from Shetland to Lewis or Tory Island – and show how similar ingredients of land, sea and weather have been shaped into diverse cultures by their very different histories. That book is now being written (which is why this site is still under construction).
While the journey was underway it was featured in various media, including this clip on BBC Breakfast TV and lots of local newspaper and radio coverage. You can find the month-by-month blog of the journey here: http://mountaincoastriver.blogspot.co.uk. And there’s a more complete explanation of how it came to be, here: http://mountaincoastriver.blogspot.ie/2016/06/the-frayed-atlantic-edge-learning-life.html
This site is intended, eventually, to be a visual accompaniment to the book. For now, photos will be added to the Galleries tab in the menu above.
The purpose of undertaking the journey was to learn these coasts in the most immersive way possible: travelling by kayak…
…or occasionally on foot across coastal mountains, and spending many nights in a water-proof sleeping bag on cliffs, islands or mountains in sight of the Atlantic. Here, for instance, is the dawn view from Ben More, Mull…
…and the bag in situ the previous evening:
This often means waking up to find I’ve not been sleeping alone:
When not travelling, I’m exploring the multitude of archives along the route or meeting others who use or write about the coast. The hope is to find ways to comprehend and articulate the intense particularities of the places on this coastline, creating a vision of Britain’s past and present from perspectives less southern and landlocked than many histories.
Resources relating to each stage of the journey can be accessed through the tabs in the menu above; month by month these will be expanded with new regions of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Here’s the first short film, explaining the project a little further: