Vertebrate Publishing is Britain’s leading publisher of outdoor and adventure books, a lovely independent publisher with deep and exciting lists in cycling, climbing, running and wildlife. I’ve bought quite a number of their books for myself and friends since I first came across them, and I’m also fortunate to be on their reviewers’ panel. When they told me about this one I knew it was an ideal read for me, and so happily requested it – and it was everything I hoped for.

Liv Bolton – “The Outdoors Fix: Stories to Inspire You to Make the Outdoors a Bigger Part of Your Life”

(23 February 2023, from the publisher)

I was now the first woman of colour to complete a solo and unsupported trek to the South Pole. I remember thinking, ‘I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the people who told me I couldn’t do it. Nothing’s really impossible.’ (Preet Chandi, p. 141)

Liv Bolton has been running the Outdoors Fix podcast for some time now and this book has come from the participants in her podcast. Each of the 30 features has lovely photographs, including portraits of the interviewees and landscape shots, and also images of their work, and after an introduction looks at their journey to where they are now, what they do and how it affects them and others, and a set of tips related to them, so that could be tips on nature photography, getting into climbing, doing sustainable adventuring, etc.

After an introduction by Liv setting out what she does and why, there’s a short but detailed guide to enjoying the countryside respectfully and safely, and then we’re into the groups of participants: career-changers, community-builders, movers, after-work adventure seekers, wildlife warriors and big-trip adventurers (of course, several of them could fit into more than one category).

What I of course love is the diversity of the participants: more than half are women, there’s a transman, several from the global majority people community and a woman who uses the most amazing all-terrain motorised wheelchait to access quite gnarly nature. There is also a good proportion of older women, including those talking about menopause and post-menopause, and most of them are very relatable, so so many people can see themselves here, and resources are signposted to help all sorts of people access the countryside and nature as well.

While most of the 30 people are located in the countryside, many in Scotland and the Lake District, there’s a chap from Birmingham who accesses different places around his work, and a nurse from the city who encourages others to try indoor and outdoor rock-climbing, a hijabi woman who runs a youth club in Ashton-under-Lyne and a woman from London who helps lead Black Women Hikers groups there.

Community is a big theme, with most of the people featured working for, supporting or setting up charitable organisations and initiatives, with a big emphasis on mental health. The Covid pandemic appears of necessity in a good few of the features, but mainly in terms of how nature helped people through it, although it did pause some people’s big plans, picked up again resiliently afterwards.

Between sets of chapters there are great little sections on “20 small ways you can make your life more outdoorsy right now!” and “20 outdoors spots to explore in the UK”, both filled with notes from the participants. At the end, there’s a page to write down your own plans for making the outdoors a bigger part of your life (my picture above reminds us that there are adventures to be had in suburban nature and parks, too!), a glossary, a list of resources, including books and websites, and a list of contributors with their or their organisations’ social media contact details. The book is also beautifully produced with brightly coloured and subtle images and French flaps!

Thank you to Vertebrate Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. “The Outdoors Fix” is published on 9 March 2023, and you can find more about it here (and do sign up to their newsletter for special offers!).