Guest Book Review: The Pull of the River by Matt Gaw

The cover advertises this book as tales of escape and adventure on Britain’s waterways and that’s exactly what’s delivered at every stage in this brilliant piece of non-fiction. A blend of travel and natural history, Gaw brings to life the hidden world of our waterways with rich description and funny, clever narrative.

The rivers of Britain are often overlooked in modern environmentalism and Gaw highlights the injustice of this fact through his musings, whilst exploring almost every environment these wonderful isles have to offer from a perspective that has been neglected for far too long.

Gaw and his friend James decide to explore our watery landscape in a homemade canoe, and with this decision a great adventure begins. From cold mornings loading the back of a car with all that is needed for the adventure to the sunniest day paddling through secluded pools of water, Gaw’s thoughts on nature, access to the river and the conflict with landowners provide an illuminating account of a wild refuge that is fast disappearing. No great hardship stirs the two friends into this exploration, nor do they feel they need to fulfil some great purpose, instead they simply enjoy the rivers because they are there.

The utter delight in Gaw’s writing is infectious and inspires a desire to explore more of Britain and preserve as much of its incredible landscape for the coming generations as possible. That simple enjoyment at the splendour of nature is amazing to find between the pages of a book but Gaw does it with ease and I think that the enjoyment brings the message of preservation home to a reader all the more strongly.

By Tom from the lovely Haslemere Bookshop

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