A fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the only living person to have found his way solo across the Atlantic by both boat and plane, Gooley is also a man born at least four centuries too late. For him, travel has been thoroughly lobotomised by the instruments with which we convey ourselves from A to B (and he’s including clocks here, as much as GPSs). His book is a stab at course-correction – to reinstate the mystique of the quest into every journey we make.
If the injunction to switch off our dashboard satnavs in favour of our internal natnav sounds a little ‘use the Force, Luke’, well, it is a bit. Gooley’s revelations about the clues that lie scattered about the natural environment really entrance: how puddles drying on paths and the shapes of sand dunes can all be enlisted to summon compass points to your horizon. Gently, holistically, he steers us back towards a mindset where each trip must involve some sense of achievement. He also reminds us that there’s a world of difference between knowing where you are and understanding where you are.