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Alistair Moffat – A Path to Alternative History

at Edinburgh International Book Festival

The Author and Historian speaks to a packed out Book Festival Spiegeltent.

Image of Alistair Moffat – A Path to Alternative History

Famous author and historian Alistair Moffat took to the stage at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and spoke to a packed audience that had braved one of the worst days of rain this year. Introduced by Jenny Brown, Moffat talks about his latest work The Hidden ways – Scotland’s Forgotten Roads. Indeed, as phrased by Brown, ‘on a perfect day for a walk,’ Moffat talks of his personal journey and the writing of this book with the backdrop of the pitter-patter on the Spiegeltent.

Moffat is as good a storyteller as he is an author. He starts by citing the moments of inspiration for this book – first on a wander near his grandmother’s house in his natie Kelso and then again when he was at Coldingham Priory in Berwickshire. A natural curiosity to uncover a number of historically significant trails led him on a most fascinating journey. From wading through salt marshes to reliving the jouney undertaken by pilgrims in the cold winter rain, Moffat regales the audience with his adventures and some truly hilarious misadventures. Weaving through his narrative though are some though provoking themes. The need to be on his own to think, to observe, to absorb – he says, is highly recommended. He also speaks of his inner personal journey to find ‘peace’ and ‘companionship’ through his walks, which is fascinating.

Jenny Brown’s interview questions that follow are astute and insightful. She has worked with Moffat in the past, and there is a shared sense of camaraderie, which is great to see. She discusses her favourite of the stories and also prods him on some of the ones that are close to home for him as the author too. Moffat and Brown together explre his writing process and with that, it’s a wrap on what has essentially felt like an intimate cozy storytelling session on a rainy Sunday morning. It’s hard to beat that feeling!

/ @AuditBanshee


Udita works in technology innovation by day and is a creative writer by night. When she’s not at the theatre, she’s poking around in charity shops and second-hand bookstores. Travels have taken her from surviving a supercyclone in 1999 to featuring on the cover of a Scottish Book Trust anthology in 2013, both of which are excellent ice-breakers. Some of her favourite things include old books, pressed flowers, and the drama of Edinburgh skies.

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