I’m delighted to hear that Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun (Canongate) has won the Wainwright Prize — partly because it’s a wonderful book and partly because it’s a bold choice by the judges. It’s hardly a conventional work, whether you consider it as nature writing or as travel. It’s powerfully evocative of Orkney, “where land is often just a thin division between sky and water”, but it’s also a memoir of addiction and recovery, and of the role played in the latter by nature and by the writing of the book itself.
When it was first published, I mentioned it only briefly on my monthly books spread for Telegraph Travel, because I had heard that the books section had already commissioned a review. Canongate is due to publish it this month in paperback, and I thoroughly recommend it.
The Wainwright Prize, worth £5,000 to the winner, is for nature and travel writing focused on Britain, and is run by the publisher Frances Lincoln in association with the National Trust. The idea is to celebrate the legacy of the walker and writer Alfred Wainwright — whose guides to the Lakeland fells are published by Frances Lincoln — and to reflect “his core values of inspiring people to explore the outdoors, whilst engendering a love of landscape and respect for nature”.