Revealing the secrets of the Pyrenees

Cet article est également disponible en: French

[Interview published in the Indépendant (Narbonne edition) 24 August 2012]

A keen hiker, Steve Cracknell is the author of Les Pyrénées, tout en marchant sur le GR10 (English title: If You Only Walk Long Enough: Exploring the Pyrenees). Recommended reading for rambling and mountain enthusiasts.

His thirst for walking took Steve to the top of the celebrated Pic de Bugarach

His thirst for walking took Steve to the top of the celebrated Pic de Bugarach

 

Steve Cracknell and his wife are well integrated into the village of Camplong d’Aude, where they have been living for over fifteen years. He is on the town council (run by mayor Serge Lépine) and has a vineyard so he can “participate in village life and be a member of the village wine cooperative”. But although he speaks French perfectly and has even incorporated a hint of the local accent in his speech, he still sounds British.

Settling here didn’t change his lifestyle completely. He continued to work on the internet and carried on with his favourite pastime – walking. He joined the Lézignan Mountain Walking Club and quickly discovered the Pyrenees. He started doing more adventurous walks and organising outings for his club.

A famous walk

At Banyuls, at the Catalan end of the GR10

At Banyuls, at the Catalan end of the GR10

His enthusiasm for hiking and discovering new landscapes and different ways of life combined to revive his love of writing. “I used to write articles in my previous job (as an archaeologist),” he told me, “and very soon I wanted to write something about the GR10, which is so well-known to hikers around here.”

A devotee of travel writing, he threw himself into the project. “I didn’t want to write a guide,” he insists. “My aim was to write at several different levels, hence the title: Les Pyrénées – tout en marchant – sur le GR10 (The Pyrenees – walking – on the GR10). The first level is the Pyrenees, the mountains themselves, the inhabitants and their way of life. Then there is the point of view of the walker, with his specific way of seeing things. Then the GR10, that legendary walk which links the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.”

From English into French

The first edition of the book was in English, published under the title of If You Only Walk Long Enough: Exploring the Pyrenees. But Steve was well aware that his account was likely to be of more interest to French readers, so he worked with a French writer who wanted her novel translated into English. They translated each other’s work and he then sent his manuscript off to various publishers. Only one replied positively: Jean-Luc Kérébel of Éditions Cairn, a publishing house specialising in the Pyrenees. The book came out shortly afterwards (April 2012) and has already sold over 500 copies.

Pleased with the sales, Steve Cracknell is already thinking about his next book: a comparison of French and Spanish cultures in the Pyrenees either side of the frontier, with the Spanish GR11 as leitmotif.

Good luck to Camplong’s “Englishman”.

Germain Cauffopé

Steve Cracknell’s book is on sale at the Maison de la Presse in Lézignan, in bookshops in Narbonne and Carcassonne, and on the internet at GR10pyrenees.com.

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