Doubling Back

Doubling Back is a fascinating and moving account of walking in the footsteps of others. In 1952 Linda Cracknell’s father embarked on a hike through the Swiss Alps. Fifty years later Linda retraces that fateful journey, following the trail of the man she barely knew.

This collection of walking tales takes its theme from that pilgrimage. The walks trace the contours of history, following writers, relations and retreading ways across mountains, valleys and coasts formerly trodden by drovers, saints and adventurers. Each walk is about the reaffirming of memories, beliefs and emotions, and especially of the connection that one can have with the past through particular places. This book celebrates life, family, friendship and walking through landscapes richly textured with stories.

Doubling Back is a masterwork of travel writing in the vein of Robert Macfarlane and Roger Deakin, lyrical, poignant, and with stunning descriptions of the landscapes Linda Cracknell leads us through.

A Radio 4 Book Of The Week

“Cracknell wonderfully explores the strange durability of the paths that we make in our lives, in our dreams and after our deaths.” Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways

“There is not a step taken in this book that does not engage… To walk with Linda Cracknell is to explore landscape and memory… It is to be enriched by the compulsions of a lifetime.” Tom Pow

“…a winning combination of memoir, travelogue and literary meditation” Daily Mail

“With Cracknell’s writing you don’t so much see the landscape as feel it.” Scotland on Sunday

“Of all the current crop of excellent “new Nature Writers” Linda Cracknell is probably the most physically present to the reader… Refreshing, lovely, fun: good walking and good writing.” Sara Maitland

“Doubling Back is well written, poignant, and took me onto the trails that Cracknell traversed from Scotland to Kenya, Wales to Switzerland, and other points crossed in the real and imagined. This collection of walking memories is a book I shall come back to in order to revisit Cracknell’s treks and meditations. Perhaps, as Linda Cracknell used other writer’s books for inspiration on her walks, I shall use Doubling Back as inspiration for my own rambles. *****” Luxury Reading

‘This is sharp, witty, richly written prose.” Scottish Mountaineer 

“This fascinating travellers journal is perfect for that extended mid-walk lunch break on a coastal bench, sharing nothing but the views and a fabulous book to immerse yourself in.” Walks and Walking 

“From Kenya to the Cairngorms, her writing is vivid and makes you feel as though you’re sitting net to her by a campfire, eating chocolate and comparing blisters.” Julia Richardson, Daily Mail

“It needs to be described as effortful as well as beautiful because time and again, Cracknell puts herself at risk… this is a remarkable book which will take you much further than the sum of its mileages.” The National 

“Rich, poetic, contemplative.” Wanderlust

“A contemplative work that pays careful reading… this is a lovely book, highly recommended.” Chris Townsend Outdoors

“Doubling Back was a huge highlight for me this year. Part memor, part travelogue, the book finds Linda walking though landscapes including Kenya, the Scottish Highlands, and the Swiss Alps. It was such an utter pleasure to “walk” with her.” Kerry Hudson, novelist, chose Doubling Back as one a favourite book of the year in the Sunday Herald

“For anyone who enjoys being connected to the landscape in the most basic of ways, these tales feel like an invitation to explore – to immerse oneself in the great outdoors and feel the touch of history and legend. In a world where so many people plug in and zone out when they move through their landscape, it is a brilliant example of all you can experience if you simply allow yourself to.” DURA

Linda Cracknell

Linda Cracknell is a writer of prose and radio drama. Her two collections of short fiction – Life Drawing (NWP, 2000) and The Searching Glance (Salt, 2008) – both featured on award lists. Among her plays for BBC Radio 4 is The Lamp, broadcast in December 2011, which brought together a visiting Kenyan librarian and Scotland’s first public lending library, now preserved as a museum, for an exploration of the liberating power of books and reading. She is the editor of a non-fiction anthology on the wild places of Britain and Ireland, A Wilder Vein (Two Ravens Press, 2009).

Her first novel Call of the Undertow (Freight Books, 2013) is a haunting tale of motherhood, guilt, myth and redemption set on the rugged coast of Caithness at Scotland’s furthest edge. A collection of non-fiction essays on the subject of walking, Doubling Back: Ten Paths Trodden in Memory (Freight Books, 2014) was the culmination of a lengthy project initiated when she was the recipient of a Creative Scotland award in 2007.

Linda has tutored many writing courses and workshops including for the Arvon Foundation, and has facilitated creative writing as part of a number of major school projects, from learning about constellations to devising interpretation for a long-distance footpath. She has been
writer-in-residence at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital between July 2012 and June 2016. Linda lives in Highland Perthshire.