Wednesday 28 September 2022

My first book was published 35 years ago.

Scott Steiner in camp on the Continental Divide Trail

“Backpacking, travelling in remote places carrying all you need in a rucksack, is a means to freedom, the freedom of the wilderness, a freedom which I have relished over the years and the experience of which I hope to portray here”.

The above words are from the introduction to my first book, The Great Backpacking Adventure, published thirty-five years ago. They’re as true now as they were then.

I enjoyed writing the book, as I have every book since. I wrote it because it was the sort of book I enjoyed reading. My walks had been inspired by books on long walks by John Hillaby, Hamish Brown, Colin Fletcher. I hoped I could entertain and inspire others the way they had me. 

Back then the world was a different place, a much slower place. The electronic revolution was yet to begin. The Internet, GPS, digital cameras, smartphones were all in the future. I wrote the book on an Amstrad computer, bought specially for the purpose, then printed it out and sent it to the publisher along with a selection of transparencies. Remembering that really makes it seem a distant time. Walking in wild places, enjoying and feeling part of the natural world, hasn’t changed thoug

The Great Backpacking Adventure is long out of print. But some of the words I wrote back then seem to ring truer today, sadly.

“Our modern detachment from nature, from the force of which we are a part, our futile attempt to prove ourselves separate from and superior to the ecological system that allows us to live, our view of the world as an enemy to be conquered, and a bottomless treasure chest to be exploited, are the escapist and selfish attitudes that has les us to the brink of the abyss of annihilation on which we are poised. Re-establishing our place in the natural scheme of evolution and the real world is essential if we are to have a future”.

And the final lines:

“I pack a rucksack and head off into the hills to pitch my tent, gaze at the sky, feel the wind and rain on my face, the rocks and earth under my feet and bring my life back to the only thing that exists, the present”.


  1. Hi Chris, I bought this book all those years ago. I still have it now, and have read it many times. The chapter on Pyrenees inspired me to take my backpacking out of the to speak. Indeed my first trip was from Lescun to Garvanie mainly on the HRP. Pic d Ossau, Vignamale, Rio Ara, Ordessa Canyon (in a terrific thunderstorm) then through the Breche de Roland.....Fantastic!!
    Thanks for inspiring me!
    Cheers Alistair

  2. Hi Chris - I purchased a copy of this book at an Outdoor Exhibition at RNAS Yeovil. I was there with some RAF colleagues and you signed the book for me. Sadly I no longer have it but do have a much valued and well read copy of your Munros and Tops book.

  3. Have it and particularly enjoy the (very compressed) part of your CDT walk.

  4. Hello Chris,I would like to congratulate you for your first book to have seen it's 35th birthday! I was gifted this book when I was a young teenager,I was keen on walking near my village with my tent and try to be a part of Nature.After reading your book i made a plan to do a real long distance walk,and when I was 15years old i set of and walked the West Highland Way.It was some adventure,as was my blisters!But one has to learn from one's mistakes and also take on the experience of others,so I read your book again.So many years ago,but I have the memories of those years and think back fondly on the start of many years that i took my tent and ended up just somewhere.You must have some great memories from back then,and subsequently of your walks,and books,since then.Thank you for sharing your first book triumph.