When Dervla Murphy was ten, she was given a bicycle and an atlas, and soon—inspired by her correspondence with a Sikh pen pal—she was secretly planning a trip to India. At the age of thirty-one, in 1963, she finally set off, and this astonishing book is based on the daily diary she kept while riding through the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and—over the Himalayas—into Pakistan and India. A lone woman on a bicycle (with a revolver in her trouser pocket) was an unknown occurrence and a focus of enormous interest wherever she went. Undaunted by snow in alarming quantities, floods and robbery, using her .25 pistol on starving wolves and to scare off predatory men, and relying on the generosity of nomads, she not only finished her epic journey, but also pioneered a form of adventure travel that has inspired generations. Over half a century after it was first published, Full Tilt remains a hugely popular classic of travel writing.
One of the world’s great travel writers, Dervla Murphy, and her young daughter, Rachel—with little money, no taste for luxury and few concrete plans—meander their way slowly south from Bombay to the southernmost point of India, Cape Comorin, in 1973. Interested in everything they see, but only truly enchanted by people, they stay in fishermen’s huts and no-star hotels, travelling in packed-out buses, on foot and by boat. But instead of pressing ever onwards, they double back to the place they liked most, the hill province of Coorg, and settle down to live there for two months. In this book, Dervla Murphy creates an extraordinarily affectionate portrait of these cardamom-scented, spiritually and agriculturally self-sufficient highlands.
One winter in the mid-1970s, Dervla Murphy, her six-year-old daughter Rachel and Hallam, a hardy mule, walked into Baltistan close to Pakistan-held Kashmir—the frozen heart of the Western Himalayas. For three months they travelled along the perilous Indus Gorge and into nearby valleys, making a mockery of fear, trekking through the forbidding Karakoram mountains and lodging with the Balts, who farm one of the remotest regions on earth. Despite the hardship, Dervla never forgot the point of travel, retaining enthusiasm for her magnificent surroundings and using her sense of humour to bring out the best in her hosts, who were often locked into the melancholic mood of mid-winter.
This hair-raising, quirky and vivid account of their adventure is a classic of travel writing.