Silver Travel Book Club

July 2023 – From Utmost East to Utmost West

We’ll explore a different destination for each Book Club, and a lucky Silver Travel Book Club reader can win a free copy of that month’s book.

Please note: this prize draw is now closed.

This month the Silver Travel Book Club is reading From Utmost East to Utmost West: My life of exploration and adventure by John Blashford-Snell.

“These fabulous stories, gathered from a lifetime of intrepid journeys, will thrill, educate and delight”, said Stephen Fry of From Utmost East to Utmost West; My life of exploration and adventure by John Blashford-Snell.

This formidable explorer has undertaken expeditions for over 60 years into some the world’s most inhospitable terrain. This account of his journeys and discoveries takes the reader across deserts, up mountains and into jungles, all displaying what’s possible, if improbable, when a single-minded character is leading the expedition. He describes himself as a practical field engineer.

When asked what his driving force for exploring is, Colonel Blashford-Snell replied, curiosity. And there’s a sense of this in every tale in the book. To go further or more remotely than has been gone before, or maybe just to see if it is actually possible to deliver a grand piano to a tribe deep in the rainforest in Guyana.

Founder of the Scientific Exploration Society and operations Drake and Raleigh with HRH King Charles III when he was Prince of Wales, Blashford-Snell has encountered not only royalty, but film stars, bandits and a wide range of wildlife in his travels plus any number of nature’s obstacles. 

How to win a copy of From Utmost East to Utmost West by John Blashford-Snell

To win a copy of this inspiring book, please comment below to tell us about the wildest adventure you’ve had whilst travelling.

A winner will be chosen at random in early August 2023.
The competition closes on 31 July 2023.

Read more about all our Silver Travel Book Club reads.

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31 Responses

  1. Crossing the Ponte Tibetano Carasc (Tibetan bridge) near Bellinzona, Italy. A hardish hike to the steep valley. I am very scared of heights and crossing that 200m long rope bridge 120m above the valley was a real high for me. It was the main aim of my holiday and my family couldn’t believe I actually did it .

  2. I’ve delved into my memory bank of past holidays as I’d really like to win Blashford-Snell’s book but I haven’t had any really wild adventures although in the UK in the memorable summer of 1976 my then husband and I drove from our home (almost Utmost East) towing our home-made trailer tent and camped near Perranporth (almost Utmost West) where we enjoyed and endured two weeks of very hot and sunny weather with our 6 year old son. On the way home we stopped for a planned night’s break somewhere on Salisbury Plain. That night the weather broke and the deluge of rain from the storm came through the canvas; all night I held a waterproof covering over my son’s bed while my husband held on to the poles and roof to stop the tent being blown away, the thunder and lightening verging on apocalyptic. My other wild experience also features British weather. I think it was 1980 and I was the only female adult on a seconday boys’ school Adventure Holiday to Cheddar Gorge and North Wales. At times that was ‘interesting’ to say the least! One day thick fog came down suddenly while I was leading a small group on the Mendips and I had to help the boys get back safely, which certainly tested their and my compass skills: the realisation that parents had entrusted their children’s safety to me was terrifying. Luckily Snowdonia was anticlimatic.

  3. Climbing the 50m Grand Tsingy in Madagascar is something I should have done at the age of 19, not 59. We limbered up with the Petit Tsingy, a jagged, tall limestone formation. Whilst it involved clambering and a short ladder to the view deck it was fine. The Grand Tsingy involved wearing a climbing harness and clipping carabiner onto ropes, hauling ourselves up sheer cliffs, crossing a long swinging bridge over a deep gulley and getting on my knees to crawl through dark caves that needed head torches. The whole experience took 5 hours and is not one I ever want to repeat!

  4. I always travel more in hope than expectation. I did cry when I finally got to Machu Pichu after waiting over 50 years . I am looking forward to visiting Galapagos islands for my next large significant birthday.

  5. Being stung by a scorpion whilst in central Africa. Fortunately a fellow traveler was a medic so knew what to do. I could hardly move for 24hrs but am here to tell the tale.

  6. Arrived in Costa Rica recently after a long flight from the UK through Lisbon. I was taken to a lovely hotel with a good room facing the river with trees all around the area. After a good dinner and with the time change I went to bed relatively early. At 1.00 in the morning I was woken up by a loud, high-pitched, screaming noise! My first reaction was I thought that the person in the next door room was being attacked and put my ear to the wall to listen. Nothing from the next door room!
    I did not sleep for the rest of the night and was among the first people to breakfast at 7.00 am. I went straight up to the guide and said “what was all that screaming in the middle of the night? I did not get much sleep.” His response “Howler Monkeys!!!” Apparently the ‘leader of the pack’ of the howler monkeys warns the rest of the pack to go high up into the trees should he see any other animals in the area. For the rest of my Costa Rica trip i.e. when we were in the cloud forest areas I did not get much sleep. Only time I had a full night’s sleep was in the capital city San Jose.

  7. Unfortunately I have an issue with my spine/leg so long and sometimes arduous trips are becoming out of the question.
    But reading about somebodies trip with their trials and tribulations is the next best thing

  8. White water rafting down the Athabasca River in Canada, soooo scary but the sense of achievement and relief at the end was amazing.

  9. Coming down the hill in Madeira. My husband and I were in a whicker basket with two men pushing it and then jumping on.

  10. Up Red Pike in Cumbria when the fog came down! Fortunately another couple and ourselves used our compasses and maps and decided on the easiest route down and were successful but scary when you are not 100% sure where the drops are. The fog and mist came so quick – one minute you could see and then a whiteout. You certainly move with caution!

  11. Walking through the gate from the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu. Amazing.

  12. The Forgotten World Highway in New Zealand. A hair raising 155km of rainforest, ridges and canyons. Achingly beautiful and equally frightening where the road has washed away and there’s only a couple of cones and a piece of string to stop you tumbling down the mountainside.
    What a journey!

  13. Going up on troodos mountains in a 4×4 very thrilling I’ve never forgotten it

  14. I would love to win this book. My most exciting journey is yet to come!

  15. Every holiday is an adventure. My adventure active holiday is safari in Kenya, my adventure beach holiday is the Maldives and my adventure culture holiday is cruising the River Nile in Egypt. This book would be good reading on any adventure.

  16. I’m not sure it counts as travelling, but I remember being in the Philippines on a jungle survival course with the USAF and while hiding from the ‘bad guys’, I had a PI cobra slither in and nap against the back of my neck. Needless to say, I didn’t know what it was until it woke and slithered over the branches that were covering my head and face. Talk about ‘heart in your throat’ moments. I was frozen with fear and didn’t move for a good 30 minutes!

  17. When I was younger I road pillion on a large motorbike (Susuki) to Spain. it wasn’t particularly wild but travelling round Paris at speed in the early hours of the morning when I was quite tired was wild to me!

  18. Three schoolgirls as we were then, youth hosteling, hiking and hitch hiking in the Lake District, we had left it late to find a hostel with beds for us so were heading up to Cockermouth in the hope the hostel there would have room. It was getting late and we were wondering where we would be spending the night when a mini bus stopped for us offering us a ride part way. Great. We still had a long way to go.
    We clambered on board and to the back seat past rows of teenage boys staring at us. Was it a school or scouts trip? We found out when one of the three men sitting at the front came to explain. The boys were young offenders from Borstal and were converting a building, high up in the mountains, into an outward bounds centre. We could stay there if we liked. Before thinking too much about it we gratefully accepted.
    We spent a pleasant evening chatting to the supervisors then were shown our beds, camp beds in the attic, and were given a wooden bar with which to lock the door from the inside. We would be safe. No body could get in. No electricity up there so were given a torch. It was rather strange and we fell asleep not worrying about Borstal Boys but about spiders and other attic creepy crawlies. The next morning we were given breakfast in the dining room with many eyes on us then were driven down the mountain to the main road to continue our adventure. It was a story we never told our parents.

  19. When visiting Las Vegas i had a great adventure flying over the Grand Canyon in a Helicoptor.

  20. I loved having a fantail bird in New Zealand flicking his tail in my face.

  21. My family holidayed in a touring caravan throughout my childhood, and we toured many European countries before caravans were as numerous as they are now. We often stayed overnight on open land or in laybys or car parks I remember being inundated with ants at one location, from which we made a rapid getaway.

  22. At 57 I seized the chance of a gap between contacts and headed off for a solo six week adventure visiting Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kuala Lumpur and then to Australia to spend two weeks travelling to the Blue Mountains, Sydney and Noosa. My elderly mum gave me the same grief about being kidnapped, killed or worst that she did in my teens which stopped me at that time going.

    So proud of myself saw so many things and travelling solo meant you meet people on the way.

  23. For every time I leave my house, the outdoor is full of adventure. In books as well I find the greatest adventure stories ever told. So I always anticipate reading a book that’s full of other people’s heartfelt stories and the adventures that changed their perspective of life. I would love to read this book.

  24. Travelling to New Zealand at the age of 19 and going off exploring – memories made that have lasted a lifetime.

  25. When visiting Acapulco in my early twenties a friend and I went on an excursion north along the coast. We were told we’d be going past where the guerillas usually are – what we didn’t know was that the guerillas weren’t of the animal variety. We passed through an armed border crossing then disembarked from the tour van and got onto a boat that looked like something out of the African Queen to cross an inland lake to get to the ocean beach on the other side. After safely getting across the water we had a BBQ lunch and settled down to relax on the beach. Then we heard the gun shots. Armed soldiers were chasing a young man down the beach past us and were firing at him. We kept our heads down until they were well past us. They were bad shots and he out ran them as when we returned to Acapulco later in the afternoon the soldiers were still looking for him when we went back through the border crossing. Definitely an adventure we will never forget!

  26. I’m a bit boring – I’ve never had one! but would love to read about them x

  27. Last year we travelled through the Iranian desert from Tehran to Shiraz. Just legendary. Caravanserais, Isfahan, Persepolis, turquoise mines… Spectacular scenery.

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