On a twelve-day quest to explore his childhood island of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, the author Alastair McIntosh seeks to further understand “god, war, and the faeries”.
McIntosh’s latest book is travel writing at its best, writing that digs below the surface, tugging out something greater – something within all of us – curiosity explored. The book manages to handle complex subjects well and without losing the reader’s interest. It is often funny and enlightening.
Written seven years after his far-reaching hike to what feels like the furthest reaches of the earth, the author takes the reader on a Gaelic journey (complete with glossary in back!). Joining the adventure along with his trusty mule of a pack, which he so names Osprey, the reader meets a beautiful and ancient community that thrives on what nature provides, from wells with healing properties to deeply rooted legends and folklore.
Poacher’s Pilgrimage – An Island Journey also explores religious sentiments in order to understand the deeply embedded cultural beliefs of those who inhabit the Outer Hebrides. Yet, in doing so, McIntosh isn’t preaching for a god but discusses spirituality and theology on a broader level which invites the reader in for contemplation, no matter their own religious beliefs.
During the hike, the reader feels as if they are inside McIntosh’s mind as he drifts between his hiking adventures into a deeper state that explores his hopes for the future of humankind – a world without violence and one that worships nature.
Throughout the book, McIntosh uses beautiful poetry to further encapsulate what it means to be a part of the island culture, adding great emotion to the work. This use of poetry is mirrored with a vibrant use of poetic language that makes the Outer Hebrides come to life.
For those who are in for an enriching and exciting adventure that speaks to the armchair traveler, Poacher’s Pilgrimage is a worthy addition to your bookshelf.