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The Well at the World's End: The Epic True Story of One Man's Search for the Secret to Eternal Youth

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  36 reviews
When A. J. Mackinnon quits his job in Australia, he knows only that he longs to travel to the well at the world’s end, a mysterious pool on a remote Scottish island whose waters, legend has it, hold the secret to eternal youth. Determined not to fly—he claims it would feel as though he were cheating—he sets out with a backpack, some fireworks, and a map of the world and tr ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Skyhorse (first published July 28th 2010)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Start your review of The Well at the World's End: The Epic True Story of One Man's Search for the Secret to Eternal Youth
The Well at the World’s End is a fabulous book! Mackinnon is a romantic, a travel tragic and a superb raconteur all rolled into one, and I’d love to have him as a guest at my next dinner-party…

Back in the 1980s, Mackinnon set off from Australia on the obligatory see-the-world trip that most young Australians do. His ambition in Scotland was to find the mythic ’well at the world’s end’ and this book begins with his adventures in getting there as a penniless – guileless – young man. On the way he
Kayden Webby
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the well at the world’s end takes you on an exciting journey through many different countries. each one travelled to without planes. it’s an exciting book with many unexpected turns and non-planned travelling. it’s extremely descriptive and makes you want to read on and on.I rate this fabulous book 10/10
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travel lovers
Recommended to Nicole by: Brian Haverty
Having previously enjoyed The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow I was not sure that Mackinnon could better it, but he certainly has. In his second book, incidentally set earlier than Jack de Crow, Mackinnon sets off on a pilgrimage to Iona, where he had previously bathed in, not drunk, the waters from the Well of Eternal Youth. Attempting to rectify this error, he departs from New Zealand in a journey that does not involve the impersonal comfort and speed of flying, but instead is a series of ship ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Thoroughly enjoyable! I am still left wondering why he had to START his trip from New Zealand instead of Australia, (and wondering why the editors never picked up that minor detail either). Also slightly annoyed with the ending of the trip. But glad it's not your usual travel book that everyone seems to write these days where they fall in love with somebody, or some type of food, or foreign religion that gives them a new (and obvious) revalation to their life. This book was filled with PURE adve ...more
Susan McNeely

The tale of his travels is certainly lively, much of it a bit hard to swallow, but there is a frantic feel to it that makes it something of a disjointed read.
Belinda Pollard
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the age of 27, A. J. ‘Sandy’ Mackinnon throws in his respectable job as a schoolteacher and sets off on a pilgrimage to drink from the Well of Eternal Youth. In compliance with ancient legend, he must travel only by land or sea. Given that he is beginning in New Zealand and his goal is a remote Scottish island, this is no easy task. The Well at the World’s End is the story of Mackinnon’s miraculous journey across twelve time zones – the miracle being that he lived to tell the tale at all.

Hugh Maclean
He’s a pretty witty guy, is Sandy. The sort of bloke who would make great company over a beer or two.
I enjoyed his yarn very much.
If he’s still at Timbertop, I should look out for him at the Merrijig Pub, might even shout him a beer!
3.5 stars.
Gracel lee
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is no doubt one of the most entertaining travel stories I have ever read. Sandy, or whatever his name is, is poetic and charming. He writes like a old English gentleman.
Love it, is there anymore?
3.5 Stars
Emily Norman
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read about exciting and crazy adventure traveling the world without flying. Funny and at times completely, unbelievably ridiculous!
Deborah  Cleaves
Jul 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wes Walsh
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant enjoyable read. Full of travel adventure and very funny.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, travel, favorites
"The Well at the World's End" is the best sort of travel memoir: both funny and filled with adventure. It records the author's youthful year-long journey from New Zealand to Great Britain in 1990, during which he used every conveyance possible except an airplane. Along the way, he got himself into numerous scrapes, including sneaking across the border into China and getting caught. In each case, he talked, joked or performed amateur magic tricks to get out of trouble, leaving his fellow traveler ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having revelled in the author's company during our Unlikely Voyage in Jack de Crow, I was up for any adventure as I accompanied MacKinnon in this later book on his long 1990 march/sail from South Australia to England.

We were off to a slow start in New Zealand but readers new to MacKinnon can be assured that the pace picks up at Darwin where our narrator and two other innocents are subjected to the whims of a psychopathic yachtowner as they cruise along the wild, crocodile infested coastal wate
John Mendez
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be quite blunt I bought this book thinking it was another book of the same name. I was expecting an over 150 year old fantasy novel, and instead got a memoir. Oh well!

This is the memoir of an English Teacher, in his adventures travelling on foot from Australia to England. This is a memoir, but I’m 95% certain that this book contains at least one or two embellishments. He sails from Australia, to Laos, travels across China, until he gets to Venice and then finally England. In the book he confr
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lisa, Kezia
This is an enchanting travelogue and real-life adventure story. Sandy MacKinnon hails from Australia, and it is his wit, descriptive powers, and emphatically British tone that make this book so special. As he travels around the world from Australia to Scotland by any form of transportation but airplane, (boat, train, bus, legs) we are right there with him. His experiences trying to kill a catfish, get out of Laos into China, and countless other wild adventures, including a round with the Laurel ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Mackinnon's books (both of them). In this book he tells a tale of overland travel from Australia to Iona off the coast of England to their "Fountain of Youth". The best part of Mackinnon's writing is his style. Mackinnon knows how to turn a phrase. Mackinnon is the opposite of Theroux. While Theroux writes as a grumpy old man, Mackinnon writes with the exuberance of youth. His idea of travel seems to be, "I probably shouldn't do this, but what the Hell!". Very rarely do I laugh out loud w ...more
Amy Heap
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too, too much fun! What a wonderful, surprising, funny, frustrating, whimsical, scary and utterly delightful trip I have been on. Sandy read it to me himself, and I highly recommend the audio version though it takes much longer than reading it yourself. Sandy left his teaching job in Adelaide to head to Iona, starting from New Zealand, by water or over land - no flying allowed. Such kind people he met, such terrible scrapes he got into, such beauty he experienced. Sandy is a highly skilled story ...more
Lee Belbin
This was a quirky travel story by a young Australian schoolteacher. This is definitely an off the main roads travel story with plenty of humour and many situations that made me wince. When he looses his backpack with passport etc, he leaves it to the angels. I'd be in a total panic, but not this trusty and very intrepid author. Travel from New Zealand to London by yacht, boat, train, bus and foot tells plenty of wild, very dumb and brave exploits.
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining travel memoir in which the author gives up his job as an English teacher to travel to Iona in Scotland using any means of transportation except air. Over the year of his travels he has some outrageous and often foolhardy experiences and meets some delightful characters all of which are described with self-deprecating humor.
Martin Chambers
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Master storytelling. He leads you up a mountain, and you are halfway down before you realise you are naked. Fantastic. See my review of 'The unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow' for more. This book deals with the time leading up to the Jack de Crow voyage, but was written some time after. It is every bit as good and it will not matter which you read first.
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly stopped reading this but struggled through to the end. Some funny stories in the travel blog style book and had a light and easy-to-read style. The last section of the book seemed like a real rush. Seemingly ridiculous decisions made along the way, but I guess I'm more risk averse that the main character/author. An okay read for me but not much more.
Great idea but disappointed. I had the 1o CD talking book read by the author. Never got past the 2nd CD. Being totally sexist it sounded like a midday drama soapie. Too much embroidery and not enough of actually getting to where he wanted to go to. A shame as there maybe some good stories in there. Maybe a very abridged CD would do it for me.
Carol Wakefield
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly delightful travel adventure. Young man leaves New Zealand and wants to get to northern Scotland without any air travel. He manages it. Not easily. And was he actually as delightfully naive as he reports? Maybe /maybe not. But his journey was written in a quirky style with self deprecating humor and I was sad tonarrive at the journeys end with him.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty amazing tale of how a young man made the trip from New Zealand to England without air travel. I wondered if he was ever going to get out of the southern hemisphere but he did make it. He had some incredible experiences along the way and more than his share of good luck. I enjoyed this book.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
finished it in a week and loved it
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read, great adventures and philosophy.
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started and finished in just a couple of days while traveling myself. I've been left feeling a little inspired to cancel my flight home and jump onboard a freighter! Absolutely brilliant adventure.
Not as good as his other brilliant offering, "The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow," but entertaining nonetheless.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully quirky travel book... Highly recommend you read it.
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A.J. Mackinnon is the author of The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow and The Well at the World's End. He was born in Australia in 1963 and he spent his childhood between England and Australia, traveling as a small boy with his family on the last P&O liners to sail between the two countries.

His interests include painting, philosophy, writing, conjuring and home-made fireworks. He is currently a teac

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