When Luke Waterson decided on a last-minute holiday in Scotland and found everything was booked, he ordered a stash of OS maps, planned a 275-mile, 12-day hike across Scotland—and left the next day.
Growing up, the atlas was the biggest book our family owned. Too large for our bookshelves, it lay below, covered by the paraphernalia that got piled on top. It was an undertaking just to pull it out. And if I think back to my earliest wanderlust, it’s this: That silvery outline of a globe on the spine, stuck under a mound of much duller things.
That atlas—and soon enough, any cartography—began assuming a hallowed quality in my mind. Perusing a map became special, a treat for when I had the time. I’d spend hours tracing imaginary journeys across gridded depictions of counties, countries, continents.
These journeys shared a common theme. They all traversed all of something. A mountain was unexciting in itself; it was crossing the range that held the allure.