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Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europe's Winds from the Pennines to Provence

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  422 ratings  ·  67 reviews
As a six-year-old child, Nick Hunt was almost carried away in a gust from the Great Storm of 1987. Almost thirty years later he set off in search of the legendary winds of Europe; from the Helm, to the Bora, the Foehn and the Mistral.

Where the Wild Winds Are is Nick Hunt's story of following the wind from the fells of Cumbria to the Alps, the Rhone to the Adriatic coast, t
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 7th 2017 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Spencer Orey
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fantastic study of the wind. I learned a ton and it made me think about the wind in ways I had never expected. The conversational style made it nice to read in the afternoons with a cup of tea. Will write more someday in the future :)
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a book that can be useful for ambitious hikers planning to “walk Europe’s winds from the Pennines to Provence,” but is also a delight for those who are satisfied with a vicarious appreciation.

The book begins with the Helm and ends with the Mistral. Between those descriptions and adventures are the Bora and the Foehn. Also mentioned are the Halny, Kosava, Meltemi, Gregale, Sirocco, Tramontana and Levanter: Europe’s great wild winds.

Hunt intersperses his personal experiences with people, p
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Living on the south coast we have got used to the wind now. It blows across the Atlantic, up the channel and can vary from a pleasant breeze to a howling gale. Whilst it is a constant feature of life in Dorset, there are a lot of winds around the world that are such a part of the landscape that they have gained a certain amount of notoriety and their own name. Most have heard of the Mistral, the wind that scours the French Provencal landscape as it sweeps down to the Mediterranean, but around Eu ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-2019
Weather fascinates me, and therefore when I spotted Nick Hunt's Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europe's Winds from the Pennines to Provence in Fopp, I did not hesitate before picking up a copy.  This non-fiction work was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Awards in 2018, and chosen as a book of the year by The Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, and The Spectator respectively.  Amy Liptrot observes that the book is 'packed with wonder', and Jan Morris concurs, writing that it is 'fu ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
At its core, this book is the product of a project to write a travel book on a topic that seemed to the author to have never been written about before. In some writer's hands, this could be little better than a letter written home, of interest only to the writer and perhaps his close family.

Instead, Nick Hunt combines travelogue, observation, research, insight and wit in a very clever, seamlessly readable book. He explains the nature and origin of the winds (the most famous of the 'named winds'
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, first-reads
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

From the moment the great storm of 1987 almost blew six-year-old Nick Hunt away, he has had the urge to travel. So many travel books are on the market, it is difficult to produce something new and exciting, but after coming across an interesting map of Europe, Hunt was determined to go on a journey that not many have attempted before. With a map listing the named winds of Europe, Hunt sets off on a quixotic quest to follow the winds.

Stephanie Jane
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, walking
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

As a keen walker, I always enjoy a good walking memoir, especially one with an unusual hook, so when I saw a copy of Where The Wild Winds Are on a friend's bookshelf I had it borrowed faster than he could say, 'I haven't actually read that myself yet'! I'm more of a fair weather walker so the idea of deliberately searching out walks to undertake them when strong winds were blowing struck me as odd to say the least. I thought Nick Hunt might b
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Grateful for the chance to read through the giveaway program.
Being confined through illness, vicarious wild walking is a treat,and this was certainly wild! It is an interesting and unique book traversing varied landscapes,climatic conditions and wind induced phenomena experienced by the author as he sought Europe’s winds. I learnt a lot about how wind shapes not just landscapes but architecture,culture,legend,health and well-being.
Clive Gerrard
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was SO looking forward to reading this book .... unfortunately it left me somewhat disappointed. The book is well written and the language complex with fine use creative adjectives, idiom and similes. However, I couldn't understand the premiss behind it. Why??? Why did the author take these arduous treks alone through snowfields and heat? It seemed dangerous in the extreme, especially as he states that his maps weren't very good ....
Its not until the acknowledgements when it seems he had some
John Kaye
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to me, but I found it very hard going, and the winds hardly featured. There's a lot to say about these winds, and I have been in many of the places where they happen, occasionally when they happen. It was more of a travelogue, and often very elementary in its descriptions and style. In fact there hardly seemed to be any style at all, and I got tired on the silliness of his travelling arrangements. Jan Morris or Paul Theroux it wasn't! A few Google searches got me original and relevan ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
This book is all over the place, literally and figuratively. His project is not well-focused, and so it mostly consists of him wandering around in storms, or hoping the Big Wind of wherever he is will blow up soon. So it took me forever to read, because there was no focus and I just didn't care. His first book was much much better. ...more
Until I moved to a windy place, I didn't really pay much attention to wind. Except for events like the Great Storm of 1987 (mentioned in the introduction) it wasn't something I particularly noticed. Nowadays one of the first things I notice when I get up are whether it's windy (it usually is) and if so which way the wind is blowing. Yes they do have names: if it's Marin they day will be overcast and humid, if Cers certainly sunny and possibly cold.

So I can see how he could get fascinated by nam
Nick Davies
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Somewhere between three and four, I certainly found plenty in this that was interesting and amusing, but there was also a lot which didn't completely hold my attention. Nick Hunt here does an interesting slant on the Robert McFarlane type travel writing, focussing particularly on four famous winds and how these have shaped the areas of Europe in which they blow. The Helm in the Pennines, the Bora along the Balkan coast, the Foehn in Switzerland, and the Mistral in southern France.

It's good, wel
Chantal Lyons
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was a tad uncertain about whether I'd like this book - I prefer my nature writing to be about living things, not weather. But Hunt's book is just too charming.

It might winds (an eclectic passion) that drive Hunt on various sojourns through Europe, but everything that he encounters along the way is characterful - the mountains and valleys, the villages and towns, and the people most of all. It never fails to astound me to reminded how big even the small continent of Europe is, how many places I
Brigid Gallagher
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nick Hunt's quest to follow four winds - Helm, Bora, Foehn and Mistral around Europe takes the reader on a journey through rugged and wild landscapes with few inhabitants. Nick also discovers the the power of the mighty winds on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being... ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Such a beautiful book and a pleasure to read. A must for people who want something a bit different and a bit special from their travel/nature books.
Emily Purcell
I don't usually read travelogues but this authors quest to experience the named winds of Europe is beautiful and poignant although ultimately a bit silly in the context of larger things. ...more
Mariosa Comunale
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is extremely well written and it is a very nice mix of travelling and self-discovery! 4.5 ⭐️
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
If Nick Hunt had been writing in the ‘golden age’ of travel writing, a few decades ago, he would have been up there alongside Raban, Chatwin and others. He’s too young for that – this is only his second book, after the wonderful ‘Walking the Woods and the Water’. However, he writes with astonishing depth and maturity, and clearly will build a readership waiting eagerly for his next book.

At the beginning of this one, he stands in the travel section of a bookshop, overcome by the impression that
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
What research this author must have find literature, art, geography information to match his travels. I thought this so well-written.

p. 51, from "The Hobbit":
Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters.

p.102: "..the dictionary term is 'psithurism', the noise of wind passing through leaves - an evergreen language that sounded like whispered words"

p. 130: Hermann Hesse's "Peter Camenzind...about a young man from a fictional Alpine village. Introverted and mela
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To create a successful travelogue an author needs a quest, something to give the journey purpose. In Where the Wild Winds Are Nick Hunt travels Europe in search of four named winds: the Helm that blows over the Pennines, the Bora on the Adriatic coast, the Foehn through Switzerland and into the Alps, and finally the one most people have heard of, the Mistral. For each he walks a route that is most likely to ensure that he encounters these winds in all their exhilarating if sometimes terrifying p ...more
Harold Rhenisch
Nick Hunt has a poetic imagination and is rock-solid in describing landscapes and winds. He's also great with people, especially quirky, flamboyant people, or people living in hardship. He does less well with Germans — well, Swiss-Germans. The people of Lichtenstein are OK. By the end of his remarkable and thoroughly-enjoyable walk chasing the winds of Europe (which includes splendid failure and lots of waiting and emergency bus rides when the winds pop up at more-than-walking-distance), he gets ...more
Elle Maruska
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh this was such a beautiful book! The author writes not only about the winds he chases from England to Croatia to Switzerland to France but the people who live with these winds, the cities and towns built in the paths of these winds, the stories, legends, pride and madness inspired by these winds and taken together this book is about so much more than just a walking journey.

From discussing how the Mistral wind in Provence has influenced building styles to how pirates in Croatia took advantage
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Happened upon this book in the excellent Daedalus Books discount catalog. (Check them out!) Did you know there are dozens of winds on earth with names, history, and local mythology? This is a beautifully written story of the author's travels, mostly on foot, to find and experience four well-known winds of Europe. He writes about meteorology, but also history and nature and the people he meets. His descriptions of mountains and clouds, buildings in Geneva and medieval towns in Provence, made me t ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
There are dozens of named winds in Europe, and in this book Nick Hunt walks the course of four of them: the Helm of the northern Pennines, the Bora of the Dinaric Alps of Trieste, Slovenia and Croatia; the warm, 'snow-eating' Foehn of Switzerland and the Mistral of Provence. As he makes his journeys through these buffeted landscapes, he muses on the impact of wind on our natures, folklore and art and culture. He is particularly good at capturing the psychological impact of these very different w ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Coming from Britain, it's hard to imagine winds blowing so reliably and predictably that they can be named. I've always found the idea appealing however so it's great to learn from this book that Britain has its own named wind. Affecting specific areas of Cumbria, the Helm isn't as well known as continental superstars like the mistral or the Föhn and seems somewhat elusive. Attempts to experience it begin and end the book. In between the author walks through wind swept landscapes of Europe, dodg ...more
Stewart Reid
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this although the first section was a bit heavy on the pros which I found a bit much. The pros reigned themselves in and the flow improved throughout. The story wanders through local interest, deep philosophical discussion and people watching. As a glider pilot I found the level of ignorance about the actual weather phenomena rather frustrating and kept wanting to shout out the explanations of what he was seeing but that said if you are not reading this to learn about meteorology it is a ...more
Nietha Handastya
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book gave me the feeling I had as a child when I devoured books after books in order to see the world I have never seen. This travelogue was nicely written, as a man's journey following the wind. Hunt's explanation of how the wind 'called' him and he just felt like it was meant to be for him to follow the great winds footsteps, they are neatly written and surely would make you wish that you'd retrace his footsteps. This book gave me this old feeling of taking out my backpack and just take t ...more
John Benson
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I live in a very windy place, but none of our winds have names. I guess there are many in Europe and Nick Hunt tried to walk through four named winds in Europe when they are in full swing. He wasn't always successful, but he tried to tackle one in England, one in the Balkans, one in Switzerland and one in France. He writes very well and the premise of this book is quite unique. I enjoyed his writing and his walks. Meanwhile, I will just stay inside while our unnamed winds here on the Northern Pl ...more
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it

Thought at times pretentious and a little too caught up in applying a romanticized narrative to everything (which was especially jarring when applied to people and places) ,for the larger part Hunt swept me up with his beautiful prose. The descriptions of the various landscapes had me sighing with the desire to witness them myself. The numerous myths and histories addressed were smoothly interwoven within the story. This book has definitely inspired me to learn more about winds, and made me
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Nick Hunt has walked and written across much of Europe. His first book 'Walking the Woods and the Water' (Nicholas Brealey, 2014) was a finalist for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year. He also works as a contributor and editor for the Dark Mountain Project. ...more

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41 likes · 12 comments
“Every pine tree I walked beneath had its particular inflection, its needles hissing in frequencies subtly different from the ones before – the dictionary term is ‘psithurism’, the noise of wind passing through leaves – an evergreen language that sounded like whispered words.” 0 likes
“The invisible alleyways of the air have twisted through mythology, in and out of landscapes and cultures, from zephyrs to howling gales. I have met the characters of the winds, and know the qualities they bring: the Bora strength and clarity; the Foehn destruction and depression; the Sirocco debilitation; the Mistral beauty and madness. Now it seems, hoping against hope, I am about to know the Helm – if only the Bar will come – and the wildness of the chase fills me, pulls me on.” 0 likes
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