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Walking Europe’s Edge by Stephen Powell

September 29, 2021

Walking Europe’s Edge is Stephen Powell’s new and absorbing travel memoir about a marathon 1500 kilometre walk he made through Portugal. As it says in the blurb, “Away from the mass tourism, he wanted to form his own unhurried impressions of this very distinctive country.”

I was fortunate enough to be given the pre-publication draft and found it a captivating read. Writing from his long experience as a journalist for Reuters (27 years, I believe), he enriches the reader with his insights and impressions of the country’s history, culture, scenery and spirit. For me, the book was a fascinating journey of discovery through Portugal’s lesser-known provinces. I learnt about cities I’d never heard of; I found that Porto only became an attractive destination at the beginning of the millenium; and I read about the background, arts, literature and economy of the many unknown, but iconic Portuguese towns he stayed at on route.

In doing so, Stephen Powell outlines the country’s phenomenal empire history, shows us where its poets lived and loved and talks to scholars, estate agents and even bar owners in his quest to feel the pulse of Portugal. On his journey, he lodged with local people, slept under the stars and walked through areas so remote he wondered if he would find his way out. To me, it seems hardly possible to experience such isolation in such a small country, but from his evocative descriptions, I gained a sense of its beauty and its alluring magic too.

Throughout his walk, the author became deeply attached to Portugal, but reader beware: this is not a rosy-hued account. There are no rose-tinted glasses here and Stephen Powell does not flinch from discussing the real state of modern-day Portugal as revealed by the Portuguese experts he spoke to.

I loved his first book, The First Toast is to peace (see my review here), and can recommend Walking Europe’s Edge just as highly. And by the way, there are lovely illustrations as well provided by two of his daughters.

The link to the Kindle book on Amazon US is here.

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2 Comments
  1. I know hardly anything about Portugal so this might be a good way to begin. If I decide to do the European challenge next year this would also be ideal for that.

  2. Oh how odd. I was sure I’d replied, Cath. Yes, I think this would be a great introduction to Portugal as it really is, Cath.

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