Depression threw him off course. A detour set his wilder side free.
An amusing and life-affirming travel memoir, concluding with tips for managing depressive episodes.
Keith Foskett refused to let his dark mood define his limitations. Unknowingly suffering with depression, he took to hiking the wilds of Scotland to face the inner demons that threatened to gnaw him to the bone. From the craggy Highlands of the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way, to the canals criss-crossing the low country, 600 miles of unforgiving hiking terrain called his name.
Keith repositioned his compass to what really matters in life. As laughter became his travelling companion, he discovered that when dealing with emotional baggage, it’s best to pack light. Pushing his mind and body past breaking point, his journey could set a brave new course for coping with depression.
Battling ferocious weather, the ubiquitous Scottish midge, strange-sounding local delicacies and substandard TV sets, this is one man’s battle to conquer the wilds of Scotland, and his own psychological demons.
Since I undertook The Lyke Wake Walk, as a green and under prepared schoolgirl, I’ve had a penchant for walking over the years. While these days, my walks tend to be limited to circular pub walks, I enjoy reading about the endeavours of others and with High and Low I was not disappointed Joining Keith on the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way was a journey of discovery in more ways than one.
The book is more than just a travel memoir recounting the physical journey. It’s offers an engaging and informative insight into the history, geography and even gastronomy of the area he’s walking. We get to meet the locals and other walkers, discover the etiquette of walking and get to see inside a variety of bunk houses and bothies. But most of all we get to appreciate the miles covered in all their glorious highs and miserable lows. All walkers, be they intrepid or fair weather, can recognise the euphoria of turning the corner to meet the perfect view on a sunny day, or conversely can empathise with the miserable monotony of putting one sodden foot in front of the other on a miserable “why am I doing this” day.
When I read Keith’s last book Travelled Far, I came away with the impression of a man, who came to life and only really felt comfortable in his own skin when walking. This book challenged those impressions as the journey that Keith undertook was mental as well as physical. It was while on this walk that Keith comes to understand and accept that he suffers from depression. It’s not always comfortable reading but it’s truthful and honest. Once back at home and coming to terms with his diagnosis, Keith sets about generating a strategy for coping. His strategy if I’m honest, offers a blueprint for coping with life, which is valid for anyone, with or without depression as it acknowledges the important things in life.
For an intelligent read, that offers an insight into both the man and his walking endeavours, you won’t go wrong in picking up High and Low.