Saturday, 17 November 2012

Hill walking -- on a horse.

Burke in the Land of Silver is a historical novel set around the Napoleonic wars. It's based on the life of a soldier who spied for the British, working in what is now Argentina. I love Argentina and have visited there quite often, so the idea of basing a book in the country appealed to me. And back at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spanish America was an exciting place to be. The story has wars and princesses and romance and death, all reasonably faithfully based on the goings on at the time.

One of my hero's exploits was a trip across the Andes so that he could examine Spanish defences in Chile. In the book, he makes the crossing around April, in the southern autumn. The crossing at that time of year is considered dangerous because of the intense cold at altitude. When I was writing about it, I found it very difficult to visualise, so, in the interests of research, I went to the Andes and tried to ride across. We did it in October, so conditions shouldn't have been that different, except that we had to face the winter snows that had yet to thaw. Eventually the snow got too deep for the horses and we had to give up. It was an amazing experience, though, and I'm looking forward to incorporating it when I rewrite that part of the book. I may well post some of the descriptions here but, for now, I'll just post a few photographs that give you a flavour of what it was like.


  1. I have enjoyed this and will be back. Don't give up, keep trying. Love the photos too...:)

  2. I would have LOVED to do this! Lucky you .despite the cold condiditons