Eight excellent outdoor adventures

Published on: 23 May 2023

Author Lisa Thompson recommends some favourite stories where the characters get lots of fresh air.

I like to write stories in settings that feel familiar to me and so far, all my books have been set in suburban worlds similar to where I grew up as a child. But for my novel The Treasure Hunters, I have ventured out of the town and into the great outdoors! In this novel my four main characters are encouraged to take part in the ‘Wilderness Warriors Challenge’ – a weekend of walking and camping.  But not long after they set off it becomes apparent that one of the team has other plans for their journey...

It was brilliant fun throwing my characters (who aren’t very keen on each other) into the elements. Not only are they trying to negotiate how to interact with each other, but they also have to deal with heavy rucksacks, getting lost, painful boots, torrential rain, pitching tents and of course, lots and lots of mud. 

I love being out in the countryside or by the coast, but if I can’t get there then the next best thing is to bring the outside in, through the pages of a book. (Even more so when the weather is bad!) So here are some of my favourite outdoor adventures.

Twitch by M.G. Leonard

I was a keen birdwatcher as a child and this book, about a birdwatching detective called Twitch, would have been my dream read! Reading it as an adult has reminded me to get back out there with my binoculars and revisit my old hobby. 

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This epic book has everything: sadness, adventure, humour and fight scenes. It’s about a group of rabbits trying to find a safe home and is probably one of my favourite books ever.

The Wild Before by Piers Torday

I love Piers’ writing and this book is astonishing. It’s about a small hare who tries to divert a huge environmental crisis. A hopeful book which doesn’t shy away from the seriousness of the subject. 

Escape to the River Sea by Emma Carroll

In this book, inspired by Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, Emma Carroll transports us to the beauty of the Amazon rainforest where a thrilling adventure awaits our main character, Rosa.

October, October by Katya Balen

October lives ‘off-grid’ in the woods with her dad. She loves her home, but an accident means that she is soon thrust into city life. Katya Balen’s descriptions evoke the sounds and smells of the outdoors beautifully.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My English teacher read this book to us in high school. His ‘Gollum’ voice was just perfection! I love a book where the main character goes on a physical journey encountering different characters and adventures along the way. This is probably the best ‘journey’ book there is.

Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep by Philip Reeve

The sea almost feels like a character in its own right in Philip Reeve’s novel. Set on the fantastical island of Wildsea, this adventurous fantasy novel is utterly enchanting.

Be Wild, Little One by Olivia Hope, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

This stunning picture book takes us on a journey amongst herds of elephants, down into deep oceans, running with wolves in mountain snow and dancing with fireflies. Simply delightful.

The Treasure Hunters by Lisa Thompson is out now.


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles.

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