The Pull of the River: A Journey into the Wild and Watery Heart of Britain

The Pull of the River: A Journey into the Wild and Watery Heart of Britain
eBook ISBN: 9781783963355

Tales of escape and adventure on Britain’s waterways


In The Pull of the River two foolhardy explorers do what we would all love to do: they turn their world upside down and seek adventure on their very own doorstep.

In a handsome, homemade canoe, painted a joyous nautical red the colour of Mae West’s lips, Matt and his friend James delve into a watery landscape that invites us to see the world through new eyes.

Over chalk, gravel, clay and mud; through fields, woodland, villages, towns and cities, they reveal many places that otherwise go unnoticed and perhaps unloved, finding delight in the Waveney, Stour, Alde/Ore, upper and lower Thames, Lark, Great Ouse, Granta and Cam, Wye, Otter, Colne, Severn and the Great Glen Trail.

Showing that it is still possible to get lost while knowing exactly where you are, The Pull of the River is a beautifully written exploration of nature, place and friendship, and an ode to the great art – and joy – of adventure.


“Engaging and beautifully written ... Gaw’s nature writing scintillates” – The Countryman

“It’s just glorious … a marvellous book … it really put me in a good mood” – Georgey Spanswick, BBC Radio

“Beautifully written and highly engaging … it cries out with a message from its pages – a message that life is an adventure and, if you have the physical capacity to do so, it’s best spent out of that armchair – outdoors, active and immersed in nature” – East Anglian Daily Times

“Just started this and already have a hankering for a canoe and a long weekend on the river…" – EspressoCoco book blog

“Seen from the water, Britain's familiar landscapes are made mesmerisingly new. The Pull of the River is a hugely satisfying work of exploration and reclamation, and one that will have you itching to cast off on your own riparian adventure” – Melissa Harrison, author of Rain: Four Walks in English Weather

“Following in the long and distinguished tradition of The Wind in the Willows and Three Men in a Boat, Matt Gaw spends his time ‘messing about in boats’. In doing so, he entertains not only himself but us, in this delightful account of exploring the wonder of our waterways” -- Stephen Moss, author and naturalist

“A Lark for the soul” – Paul Evans, author of Field Notes from the Edge

“Gaw is an excellent writer … [his] spirited book will encourage others to seek out such waterways, and to appreciate the importance of conserving them” – Nancy Campbell, Times Literary Supplement

“A joyful and beautifully written account … if it doesn’t make you want to pick up a paddle and head to your nearest river, you’re reading it wrong” – Waterways World magazine

“A really enjoyable book, written with humour, a wry wit and a keen eye … his research of the rivers uncovers those nuggets of information of the historical and cultural terrain that overlays the rivers and that makes this a much richer read as they paddle along. I also found it refreshing as Gaw brings no personal baggage to his watery voyages; it is just him and his friend taking the time to immerse themselves in the natural world, sleeping out under the stars and rediscovering a place where time moves at a very different rate to modern life; a world that few people see now days” – Half Man, Half Book 

“Jolly yet reflective … I’m rooting for this to make next year’s Wainwright Prize Longlist” – BookishBeck

“Rather wonderful … An engaging travelogue of taking the slow route across England’s inland waterways in a Canadian canoe belonging to an old friend” - Gather Outdoors blog for Adventurous Ink