Today, adventurous people still aspire to make unusual journeys and among them are those who want to see the world at the gentle pace of a horse-drawn wagon. Yet finding practical help to plan their journey, to teach them the skills required for crossing a host of countries and climates, would have been difficult.
Until now: The Long Riders' Guild Press has published The Wagon Travel Handbook by legendary Scottish wagon-master David Renwick Grant, who journeyed around the world with his family in a horse-drawn caravan, thereby gaining entry into The Guinness Book of World Records.
This book is filled with a mine of practical information, including sections on wagon design, choice of draught animals, veterinary requirements and frontier formalities and is well illustrated throughout. In addition, it contains six valuable short personal accounts contributed by other modern wagon masters and one by the most famous wagon traveller of the 19th century. Drawing on the unique experiences of these people as well as more comprehensively on his own, the author has produced what will be the standard work on this subject for many years to come.
Whether as aide to your journey of a lifetime or vicarious read for the armchair traveller, this is the finest book ever penned about modern wagon travel and either way will delight and inform your voyage of discovery.
He has worked, amongst other things, as a jackaroo and sheep-shearer in Australia, in ecology and wildlife management for the Nature Conservancy (now incorporated into Scottish Natural Heritage), as a crofter and prawn creel fisherman on Skye and as part of a film-crew on Orkney.
At the end of 1997, David Grant - and his family: ex-wife Kate, children Torcuil (1980), Eilidh (1981) and Fionn (1984) - returned from travelling around the world with a horse and caravan, an unique journey which took them seven years; across fifteen countries on three continents and, incidentally, into the Guinness Book of World Records. He has written the story of the family's epic global journey in The Seven Year Hitch, which was published by Simon & Schuster, in June 1999 and in paperback in 2000.
In 2000, David undertook a solo kayak expedition from Sweden to the Black Sea, following an old Viking trade route via the rivers Daugava/Western Dvina, Ulla, Berezina and Dneiper. Along the way, he kept a look out for traces of Vikings, observed the way of life in places he passed, kept a note of the wildlife he saw, and visited local Baha'i communities, having accepted that Faith in 1995. Spirit of the Vikings, is the result.
In 2005, he undertook a pilgrimage to the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa and, in the true tradition of pilgrimage, walked part of the way; time unfortunately precluded walking the whole distance. He covered the rest by hitching, taking local buses and trains and by ferry. An account of this journey is in the throes of being written up.
In 2006, Periscope Publishing produced David's next book, A Submarine at War - the brief life of HMS Trooper, being the story of the submarine in which his half-brother Alick had served as First Lieutenant. The boat's history is given from the time she was built by Scott's of Greenock, through her first operation, which entailed launching Britain's first 'two-man torpedoes' or Chariots and seven subsequent war patrols, until she was recorded as being overdue, presumed to have hit a mine.
David currently lives at Balintore, near Kirriemuir, where he continues to write, as well as turning his hand to a variety of other things to stave off starvation ...