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Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
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The writer on why Full Tilt (1965) is her favourite travel book


August 09 , 2017

My favourite travel book is Full Tilt, Irish travel writer Dervla Murphy’s account of her 1963 bicycle ride from Ireland to Delhi. Setting off in January, through one of Europe’s coldest winters, the indomitable Murphy, now 85, endures blizzards and wolves, fighting off the latter with a pistol she’d been trained to use by the Irish police. Later, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, she bravely pedals her faithful steed, Rozinante, across scorching deserts and barren mountains, enduring it all with characteristic fortitude and good humour. In Pakistan, Dervla portrays a way of life seemingly unchanged for centuries. Not only is her writing exemplary, but there’s a freshness to the book, and a sense that she was cycling through a world that would soon vanish. And the whole journey cost just £66—what a contrast to the heavily-sponsored long-distance cyclists of today! Dervla is everything a travel writer should be: interesting, interested, observant, humorous, compassionate, brave and endearingly humble. Still writing at 85, I can’t think of a more inspiring woman or travel writer.

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent’s latest book is Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains

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