Frontier Travel writing
Eye on the Hill:
Horse Travels in Britain
Eye on the Hill - Horse Travels in Britain
232 pp, illus,h/b
ISBN: 978-0-9508701-4-4, £14.00
The book is the outcome of a journey made by the author, travelling with Remus the horse away from Norfolk and, the following spring, from Wales to the Scottish Highlands before returning to East Anglia. He saw things as he passed slowly by, meeting country people, farmers and blacksmiths, tinkers and strange communities. They kept going, on old roads through changing landscapes, resting at night where there was grazing for the horse.
At one point, a motorist stopped his car to say that he would give a fortune to swap lives for a day. This was an enviable experience. There are pieces of country lore and obdervations on modern society in the adventures and encounters along the way. It is not all fun, but you warm to the account; it is always genuine, often thoughtful, imaginative. The tone is gentle and nothing is examined in great detail, which helps the pace and encourages the reader to share another mile. There is a rhythm to these travels and writing, an insight into the country we think we know. Richard Barnes as born in 1950 and spent his childhood in the home counties, northern England and central Africa. After years of study, he made these journeys in 1977, although the book, transcribed from his journal, was published in 1987 with a short intoduction by the celebrated oral historian, George Ewart Evans.
Eye on the Hill is a landmark in the tradition of ‘Rural Rides’ and ‘Wild Wales’, though William Cobbett and George Borrow never had to cross a motorway with their horses. The photographs are descriptive and add to an atmosphere of Time travelling and an unusual view of 20th century Britain.
20 year update 2007
The journey of '77, the book ('87) and the writer are seen in a new light since the arrival of the Longriders Guild in 2001. This is a communications connected association of very long distance riders. It was founded by CuChullaine and Basha O'Reilly, both of whom have ridden thousands of miles in Asia, who are a present day inspiration to the author of Eye on the Hill and a very far reaching international readership.The LRG have become publishers and reprinted all the best equestrian literature in the English language and have added this to their list. However, Frontier has the first edition with artwork and photographs and a letterpressed brown hardback cover and there are some copies left.
"Books like this should be banned! They give the deskbound among us feelings of wanderlust that we can’t fulfil. An eminently readable account of a remarkable journey".
"Personal Experiences are well mixed with history and comment on the
rural scene - a relaxed easy book, a welcome breath of simple sanity in a mad
"One of the most captivating books in modern equestrian literature. It is poetry set to the sound of a horse’s gentle clip-clop. It is a tale of the gradual uncovering of the secrets of back country Britain. It is a sweeping away of pedestrian restraint. It is magical music sung to the tune of the lark singing and the saddle creaking on a warm summer’s day".
"A beautifully written gentle story of one man and one horse as they travel through a Britain on the edge of change. It is a story of characters - the character of the horse, the man, the people, and above all, the country".
All rights retained / available
Frontier Publishing.©Richard Barnes
secondary paperback rights The Long Riders Guild Press 2005 -see link to LRG.