Read Beyond Belfast: A 560 Mile Journey Across Northern Ireland On Sore Feet by Will Ferguson Online


Offbeat, charming, and filled with humour and insight, Beyond Belfast is the story of one man’s misguided attempt at walking the Ulster Way, “the longest waymarked trail in the British Isles.” It’s a journey that takes Will Ferguson through the small towns and half-forgotten villages of Northern Ireland, along rugged coastlines and across barren moorland heights, past crumOffbeat, charming, and filled with humour and insight, Beyond Belfast is the story of one man’s misguided attempt at walking the Ulster Way, “the longest waymarked trail in the British Isles.” It’s a journey that takes Will Ferguson through the small towns and half-forgotten villages of Northern Ireland, along rugged coastlines and across barren moorland heights, past crumbling castles and patchwork farms.From IRA pubs to Protestant marches, from bandits and bad weather to banshees and blood sausage, he wades into the thick of things, providing an affectionate and heartfelt look at one of the most misunderstood corners of the world. As the grandson of a Belfast orphan, Will also peels back the myths and realities of his own family history—a mysterious photograph, rumours of a lost inheritance. The truth, when it comes, is both surprising and funny …...

Title : Beyond Belfast: A 560 Mile Journey Across Northern Ireland On Sore Feet
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670069156
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Beyond Belfast: A 560 Mile Journey Across Northern Ireland On Sore Feet Reviews

  • Loraine
    2019-04-21 22:29

    I have read more than a few travel books and I have loved several. They must all now move down a notch. Beyond Belfast is the best, and very easy to rate five-star. It is funny, original, and I loved every page. I started marking off interesting or amusing phrases but gave up as there were just too many. Many times I stopped reading, smiled, shook my head and asked “how did he come up with that description?” I am sure I could open it up at any page and find something that would please me to read over again.It took a long time to read because I could not finish two pages before there was something to Google, and I would be off on a hunt for photos. This is not for lack of description; quite the opposite. Places are so well described that it was like teasing me. I could not be satisfied with just imagining, I had to see for myself. I actually tried to stay away from the internet for just one reading session, got all comfy in bed with no connection anywhere near to hand, and found myself ripping up my bookmark to keep the pages of things to look up the next day. (I am morally opposed to folding down page corners) So I gave up trying and allowed myself the time I needed to really savor this beauty of a book.Will Ferguson has a wonderful way of viewing the word and then describing it to us. More of this please.

  • Julia
    2019-05-21 19:39

    I met Will Ferguson a couple of weeks ago at an Author's event. He is a funny and talented writer. I've read a number of his books and thoroughly enjoyed each one. They are all so different from each other. This is travel book in which he takes the reader along with him as he walks The Ulster Way in Northern Ireland.Even though a visit to Ireland is on my bucket list, the constant rain and soggy conditions certainly put a damper on my excitement to make that visit.This is a travel book much like Bill Bryson's books, but Ferguson has his own brand of wit and humour dispersed in his account of this 560 mile trek across Northern Ireland on the Ulster Way. I thought he had a good balance in his writing of the rich and troublesome history of Ireland and his own commentary on the local people and the hard-to-decipher English language they speak and telling us about some of the afflictions he suffered while walking this distance. at times I laughed out loud.To quote Ferguson in summing up his experience, he says "I think the people who designed The Ulster Way were so enamoured of the idea of one continuous, unbroken circuit that they tried to force everything into a single route, even when it didn't fit. and yet, in spite of the scabies and the food poisoning and the endless soul numbing planted forests and the near-death highway encounters, in spite of all that, I thought of the rolling hills, undulating landscapes, the unspoiled beaches, the scenic valleys, the windswept heights. To walk Ulster,yes, absolutely. To walk the Ulster Way? That's a harder question to answer."

  • Christine
    2019-05-03 17:38

    I guess I should start this review off with a confession: I know almost nothing about Irish history. Even the recent events. And considering how heavily the conflicts are woven into Beyond Belfast, this lack put me at a disadvantage for following parts of the story. I kept wishing for a map and a history book to add background. The way that Ferguson weaves the bombings, violence, and the ingrained bitterness into his walk through Northern Ireland wasn't at all what I was expecting when I picked up this book. He originally crosses the pond to shed some light on his grandfather's past, but that quickly becomes a subplot. It pales in comparison to Northern Ireland's history, to their troubles. It haunts nearly every step he takes. I had no idea how pervasive and deadly "the troubles" were. Beyond Belfast really opened my eyes. Speaking of other eye-openers, Ferguson's own struggle to walk and complete the Ulster Way was not something I think either of us expected. In spite of being equipped with the latest maps from a couple different sources, Ferguson barely managed to finish the Ulster Way. Sections had overgrown, were criss-crossed by fences and rivers and highways, ran through bogs, or were so poorly marked they were impossible to follow. Now, Ferguson goes back eight years later and drives portions of the trail, and mentions the Irish government making plans to improve the Ulster Way, so perhaps it's better now. But reading Ferguson's experience definitely didn't encourage me to rush out and buy a plane ticket and a backpack. This might be one of those adventures that's best experienced from an armchair. With a big cup of "sun-dappled tea".

  • Robb
    2019-05-18 23:33

    As far as travel biographies go, this one is better than most I have read. Likely because Ferguson uses humour and many Canadian references to keep the writing fresh. The country in question also kept me interested as I absolutely adore Ireland and could identify with pretty much every situation he experienced while on the Emerald Isle. Ferguson has a vast knowledge of Irish history which he is quick to show with his description of every town he visits. Reading this book took me right back to Ireland where I could see myself doing everything and seeing everything that Ferguson saw. His writing paints a beautiful yet shocking view of what Ireland was like before the end of the "Troubles". I felt the pain of the Irish people with each page describing the hardships and difficulties. The only problem I had with "Beyond Belfast" was that the writing got a little repetitive, however this can be forgiven because there is only so many ways to describe the beautiful Irish country side without resorting to poetry.Thanks to Ferguson and his book, I will definitely be heading back to Ireland to visit the smaller towns he mentioned that I have not yet visited. I will definitely be reading a few more of Ferguson's Canadian themed books. I recommend this book to anyone who has traveled or is planning on travel to Ireland. You will find his adventures easy to relate to.

  • Mrsgaskell
    2019-04-30 20:35

    Gypsysmom lent me this book from her permanent collection and it sounded so good I started reading it almost right away, appropriately on St. Patrick’s Day. How could I resist a book by an author described as a Canadian Bill Bryson?! This was supposed to be funny and I was in need of a few laughs. And I did laugh – out loud on several occasions. (Having spent quite a bit of time in the UK, I am always highly amused by cold toast jokes). As well as making me laugh, the book also made me shake my head at times – the “Troubles” seem incomprehensible to an outsider. I well remember the awful bombing in Omagh because we were in the UK when it happened. The story of Ferguson’s search for his roots adds a fascinating element to his account of his travels. I really enjoyed my trip around Ulster but I’m glad to have experienced it from my comfy spot on the family room couch, dry and snug. I don’t think I would have endured long in the mist, fog, drizzle, and rain, up to my knees in bog! It was definitely worth looking at the slide show on the author’s web site, and I also enjoyed listening to the CBC interview.

  • Eric B. Kennedy
    2019-05-20 23:42

    An enjoyable memoir of Will Ferguson's trip along the Ulster Way in Ireland. While it's a fairly hefty read, and sometimes plods at foot pace with him, it also paints a nuanced picture of the Irish culture, nostalgically taking me back to my own time in Belfast. It's a land of contrasts, clouds, and some crazy cultural moments, and it's a very human tale of the journey along the way. If you're interested in Irish culture or have a thing for hiking-meets-history, it's certainly worth taking a look at.

  • Tracie Taylor
    2019-04-29 22:40

    I loved this book and can't wait to visit Ulster in about 18 months from now! It's a really well-written book about Ferguson's many adventures in Ulster - as you read it, it is easy to imagine that you are right there with him as he gets caught on a fence, almost falls into the ocean or has to deal with a couple of annoying fellow travellers...even better than inspiring me to go, it's a book that I know I'll read again and again...right now, I'm passing it along to my mom!

  • writer...
    2019-05-17 21:53

    Enjoying the banter and craic of Canadian Will Ferguson's humourous memoir of his hike across N Ireland.. contains much historical info enroute including political background. I've gained a much broader understanding of the world of Ireland, thanks to Will. Looked forward to his return to familial Irish roots in 2nd part of book..

  • Joanne
    2019-05-13 18:37

    I really enjoyed this story of Will Ferguson's trek through Northern Ireland. Infused with dry humour and stories of interesting people, the book is also full of insights and explanations of the Troubles of Northern Ireland. I have never understood the roots of the unrest there, and why it has dragged on for centuries. The author was also puzzled by some of the things he experienced and saw, so I know I'm not alone in my confusion. This book really helped me understand the complicated history a wee bit better. I would love to visit this beautiful country, but I may have to satisfy myself with this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes travelogues.

  • Jane Lack
    2019-05-04 17:45

    This was a re-read.....but as always I loved it cos Im a fool for travel writing. not as funny as someone like Bill Bryson but Will Ferguson still manages to make you connect with him and share the walk with him and want to read more.....

  • Jenna (Falling Letters)
    2019-04-25 18:37

    Originally posted 7 January 2011 on Falling Letters.***Will Ferguson is a Canadian author known for his books about his travels and about Canadians. The aspect of Ferguson's books I love most is the way he can blend humour and serious reflection (that's the best way I can think of to describe it...). There were plenty of sentences that made me grin while I was reading and there were plenty of sentences that made me feel distraught and melancholic. One reviewer had it right: 'Like Bryson, Ferguson is often as his best (and laugh-out-loud funniest) when most annoyed.', such as when he realizes he's the creepy old man in the youth hostel or when he gets trapped in a church during pilgrim ceremonies. An example of one of the more heartbreaking passages: "I thought about pensioners under siege on Park Road, about children burning, about off-duty police officers dragged from pubs and kicked to death, about the watery cries for "Revenge!" As I walked toward the shopping plazas in the city centre, I saw a McDonald's at one end, its golden arches catching the light- and I felt a sudden surge of relief. I walked toward the arches, rested my forehead on the cool condensation of its windows, the glass like ice on a fever. It was so comforting, the polished surface, the lack of memory, the lack of any larger context."I like the perspective of an outsider looking in on another country's struggles, providing a relatively unbiased and balanced perspective and observations on things a native would take for granted. I particularly liked how he distinguished dialects by how they pronounced fokker, fekker, fooker.He provides a balanced view of the Protestant and Catholics sides. Because neither side is prejudiced towards him, he can interact with both. The fact that Ferguson is Canadian is a bonus. I can easily understand a Canadian perspective and appreciate the little jokes he makes about being Canadian. Another reason I enjoyed this book is because it's about a subject I know (knew?) next to nothing about. Northern Ireland has always been this fuzzy patch of knowledge in my mind, where I knew it was dangerous and I thought it was dangerous because some Christians were fighting. But that's all I knew. Starting the book was tricky for me because I had trouble keeping the two 'sides' straight, for example, I couldn't remember if the UVF was for Catholics or Protestants and which side was unionist or loyalist, etc. Fortunately, Ferguson provides a handy little 'binary code' of different terms and aspects starting on page 26. He does caution that obviously not all aspects of the two sides can be reduced to this pairing code, but it did help me keep up with the various terms used throughout the book. I very much enjoyed the segments on the history of Ulster. They helped give Ferguson's tale and the current conflicts greater context. I still had trouble remembering names of places. With so much travelling in such a short period of time, bouncing around through all these tiny little villages, I guess that's to be expected. It didn't really detract from my reading experience, though.As if all that wasn't enough for a good read, there's also a subplot of sorts that sees Ferguson seeking out some lost family history. This book is packed full of all sorts of good things and often reads as though Ferguson is sharing his story with you over a beer. If you've got any interest in Northern Ireland, humour or travel, I would definitely recommend this book.

  • Meg
    2019-05-13 17:40

    I loved this book! Fascinating history, evocative travel story, funny and touching.

  • Jocelyn
    2019-04-30 16:52

    Admitedly, I'm a real sucker for travel writing and when I heard Will Ferguson on CBC talking about walking the Ulster Way in Northern Ireland I knew I'd this book would jump the bedside table queue. That interview impressed me with a single message: No one should walk the Ulster Way, ever.I'm loving this read. It's so nice to pick up at the end of the day and travel along with him. Will really captures the people of Ulster fantastically (my favourite bit? No Ulsterman can resist a cranky American storming into a pub, thumping down in a stool and studying a map in exasperation). I love that refers to himself as American and the subtle hints of his maybe-aristocratic lineage.My favourite parts are the stories of the author's Grandfather woven into the text. Some of his romantic language made my teeth hurt ("Ireland is like this bruised potato"? Wha?) but that's not what you pick up a Will Ferguson book for. You read it to catch the stories and the lovely history of his adventure. Beyond Belfast is full of win, in my view. I really enjoyed traveling along, "meeting" his Grandfather and my original understanding stands true: Though I definitely don't want to walk the entire Ulster Way, I absolutely want to walk parts of it. I think Ferguson will be an excellent addition to Canada Reads panel. I wonder if he's been on it already? He's seems the type of friend you want to if you ask, "Does dress makes me look fat?" and you really want to know said relationship between dress & fatness :)

  • Tony Maxwell
    2019-04-24 19:31

    Ulster in the Rain! I had never heard of Will Ferguson until he won the Giller Prize! Imagine my surprise (and delight) to discover he actually attended the same high school here in little old Red Deer as my son Brad. Though a few years earlier I might add.Planning to read his award winning novel, 419, I checked out his Amazon page and came across one of his earlier works, "Beyond Belfast." Being a fan of any walking tour that includes humourous asides, a la Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson, I ordered a copy.I'm very glad that Will decided to walk the Ulster Way; by doing so he saved me from ever having to even think of doing it myself!I can only echo another reviewer who suggested the reader should relax in front of a warm fire, nursing his or her favourite beverage, and let poor Will do the walking! Not only will you save yourself from the frustrations of dodgy directions, missing (or non-existent) signage, mud, bogs, hostile dogs and more rain than you can ever imagine; you will also learn a great deal about the history and geography of Ulster. A benefit that elevates "Beyond Belfast" high on my list of favourite travel books.

  • Mel
    2019-05-01 19:48

    I wanted to love this book, but it's the first Will Ferguson book that I've read and have not loved. I think that its major weakness was the length and structure. The material was interesting and the stories were interesting on their own, but I would have preferred fewer anecdotes told in greater depth. I didn't need to hear about every single day of his hike, every single village he passed through. I really liked the ending, when he took time to explore his own family and his history, and I wished that he'd tied this theme to his travels throughout the book, instead of mentioning it, then forgetting about it for a hundred pages, then mentioning it again. I enjoyed reading about the history of Northern Ireland, but again, I thought that these sections were disjointed, a bit tough to follow, and often lacking depth. Some were wonderful, though. The section on Omagh has really stuck with me.Since it won an award for humour, and since I've laughed heartily through his other books, I also expected a lot more humour. While his travels were amusing, I don't think he told them as hilariously as he did in past books, and I only laughed out loud once or twice.

  • Paul
    2019-05-05 22:33

    Some authors write history books, some write travel narratives, others write books of humor, but author Will Ferguson, combines them all into his travel books. As good as Hitching Rides with Buddha was telling the story of the authors hitch hiking odyssey from the south of Japan, all the way to the very north end, Beyond Belfast is even better! A 560 mile walk around Northern Ireland, encompassing as much of the geography, the people, the history and the culture as is possible. The author does his best to explain what caused "the Troubles" from the very beginning of the country up through the 30 years of the troubles and beyond. He does the whole book in a very entertaining and readable style, that at times will have you laughing out loud- such as death by sausage- to the somber tone when discussing the senseless butchering of often times innocent people during "The Troubles". The descriptions of what a beautiful country Northern Ireland is and the warmth and hospitality of the people Protestant and Catholic alike as well as the quirkiness and craziness that is there, makes for an exceptional piece of storytelling. This is definitely a book worth reading!

  • Lindsay Nichols
    2019-05-21 22:46

    Normally, I like Will Ferguson. I like his writing. Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw is a good book, full of neat little tidbits and tales. Happiness(tm) is one of my favourite books - funny, poignant and just plain good.Beyond Belfast is not one of his better outings.The premise is a good one - walk the Ulster Way, the longest waymarked trail in the world. Trek around Northern Ireland, learn about the people, the Troubles, and about family. Seems like a good idea. And it worked quite well for Hitching Rides With Buddha. I mean, who doesn't want to go to another country, walk about, see the sights and then get paid for writing a story about your travels? However, the walk around Northern Ireland gets really boring, really fast. Everything has this strange sameness to it. How many bogs does a man walk round before he becomes an Ulsterman? *yawn* I wish there had been less about the actual walk and more about his grandfather, a former Barnardo Boy from Ireland. That would have made for a better tale.

  • Daniel
    2019-05-05 15:33

    For those who enjoy hiking, this is quite an interesting trek. Will Ferguson is a good writer. He circled Northern Ireland by foot, giving us a lesson on history, conflicts, politics and the essential back-in-time sequence searching for his roots. The pubs entered along the trail are described with the approach of a visitor meeting the locals with suspecting looks until the pressure evaporates when they found out that he's a peaceful Canadian desperately in need of a refreshing beer. There is more to this book than that actual hike. Done by car, it would have beeen a different story.It is great and it shows courage when a person decides to take the time and provide the effort to hike the Ulster the way he did. It is not given to everyone to walk through weather patterns without giving up on the first wet period. Not counting the trail hazards who can be quite scary at times. And the millions of barking dogs along the route, dogs with long teeth, dogs with bad temper, ready to grab one of your calves and splice it right open just for the sake of it.

  • Miranda
    2019-04-22 19:55

    I think this book is really a 2.5 star (I am feeling generous- hence the 3), as I only really half like it. I thought I would love this book- as I have done a bit of walking on the Emerald Isle myself. However- I just found it too long and detailed. I wish Ferguson would have wrote about the highlights of his Ulster walk, several pages on every single village, farm, pub, and bull he came across. It became quite repetitive. It also bothered me (though I'm not sure why) that he walked this walk nearly 10 years ago. What took him so long to write about it? Surely some accuracy and details were lost in those 10 years? What I did like about this book is Ferguson's humour- I find him quite funny. There just wasn't enough humour. I also enjoyed the historical tidbits and the inclusion of Ferguson's personal quest to discover his family origins- those parts were very interesting.

  • Scott Harris
    2019-04-24 15:30

    This is a fun read that provides an honest account of Ferguson's trek across the counties that form Ulster. A wonderful mix of travel writing, genealogical reflection, and cultural observation. For a hiking book, Ferguson leaves little doubt about the painfulness of that process but was able nevertheless to make me wonder where I needed to go for my "big hike". From a family history angle, it has the common bitter sweet aspects of adventurous mystery culminating in incomplete connections and a brick wall (or stone steps if you prefer). From a commentary on the state of affairs in Northern Ireland, it has a journalistic historian quality but with an "Hey, I'm here on holiday" attitude - that is to say, one without singular agenda or story focus. Funny and engaging all around.

  • Mercedes
    2019-05-10 22:37

    If you don't know anything about Northern Ireland, you def will know quite a lot after reading this book. You'll know the tidbits, fables and history, which is really quite interesting. So from that aspect I would give it 4 or 5 stars. However.... I didn't find it funny. A couple parts like the pilgramage scene was a classic! The problem is that the author built things up all dramatic like and then lets you down. His nonstop buildup of the attacks of 'wild dogs' or 'bulls' was boring. He must have repeated those scenes quite a few times. He description of places and people was repetitive. It never really made me feel like I was there. Read it for the history and the tidbits not for the laughs. And yes, we get it, your feet were sore.

  • Melanie Baker
    2019-05-08 20:34

    Normally I quite enjoy Ferguson's work, and his other travel books provided at least a few LOLs. But this I just found... boring. Ireland is stunning, but that can only be communicated so well in text. Same with the more slapstick aspects of his trip. Kinda have to be seen, rather than read, I think. Plus, as I've experienced myself in assorted countries, a lot of it is very much the same. Hard to distinguish and even harder to spin into interesting stories. The family history was interesting, but the Irish history got repetitive, too. Ireland has had some religious and political "issues" pretty much... forever. Perhaps you'd heard...

  • Roberta
    2019-04-22 23:45

    There were parts of this book I really liked and parts I couldn't stand. It's not the writing. I think Ferguson is an excellent writer; many phrases made me stop in appreciation. It was the sheer pointless boredom of reading about him slogging through yet another mud pile or cow pat or hearing about another ascent of a slippery wet mountain. It may have impressed him as an accomplishment but it bored me silly and made me wonder why he had to do it and why I had to read about it. Interspersed with all that slogging though, was some good human interest and even better history. I only wish he had stuck more to that.

  • Kim
    2019-05-03 18:47

    "It's been said we don't remember days, we remember moments" (p.349). This book is a collection of Will Ferguson's moments as he walked the Ulster Trail, a 560-mile journey across the many counties and divides of Northern Ireland.At times upon reading I was reminded of my own experiences when traveling in Northern Ireland. But more often than not, the book reminded me that moments, whether our own or those borrowed from others, inspire us and help us remember. My moments, upon crossing the same paths, were different, but Will Ferguson's travels did help me to remember those experiences. A good read, but also an important reminder to me, that the moments we keep are ours alone.

  • Jane McGaughey
    2019-04-22 20:34

    Simply put, I think this is the best book I have read about Ireland in a long time... perhaps ever. I lost track of how many times I laughed out loud or nodded in total agreement (especially whenever Ferguson mentioned anything about the weather). I'm a walker -- hiking involves more cliffs and/or vertical aspects than I usually encounter -- and so I was intrigued about the Ulster Way when I read the dust jacket. I very quickly changed my mind on that one -- probably by about page 15 -- but for pure enjoyment without having to pop blisters, this was a definite winner. This will take pride of place next to my other favourite Ferguson text: Bastards and Boneheads.

  • Heather
    2019-04-24 17:55

    As a traveller, Ferguson was strangely ineffective: he saw next to no one on the path, constantly got lost and was continually complaining, and met nearly no one even in the villages he stayed. His self-deprecating remarks seemed to have a point: yes, Will, you do seem a bit of a loser on this trip. However, the book was oddly compelling. I read the whole thing even as I was thinking this trip is a disaster -- not a capital D disaster like "Into Thin Air", but more like the megatrip you've saved up for for months that turns into a capital "D" Disappointment on almost every level.

  • Candice Walsh
    2019-05-15 19:31

    Will Ferguson is the travel writer I hope to be. Hilarious story, albeit he gets incredibly negative at times. Related to a lot of this as I tried to find my roots last year. He sums up my feelings about Ireland's Troubles damned well: "I could walk through bog and forest, city and village, could walk until I had beaten a trough in the soil, but I would never be able to walk my way into an understanding of any of this."

  • Kirstin
    2019-04-24 15:49

    Having done long-distance hiking in the past, I enjoyed a tale about it, in addition to just generally appreciating travel literature. Ferguson sets off at a good pace, describing the green, the castles, the people and especially the incredible complexity of the conflict of Northern Irelend. However, the book drags at the end and, at its lowest, uses the exact same descriptive sentence twice in the same chapter.

  • Brian
    2019-04-27 18:34

    Will Ferguson set out to discover his ancestry by hiking the Ulster Way around the edges of Northern Ireland. Mostly he discovered this “national” trail is more concept than reality and that some wounds from the worst days of “the troubles” are still open. I would never have considered reading a book about a trek around Northern Ireland, or anywhere else, unless the author had a reputation as a skillful writer with a serious sense of humour. Ferguson makes it work.

  • Leslie Cooney
    2019-04-30 19:49

    As I was preparing to embark on a two week trek around Ireland, I was interested in hearing about others who have done the same. Will Ferguson chose to walk around Northern Ireland, which I of course was not planning to do, but I was drawn to his story. I loved his descriptions of the small towns and villages he walked through, and the way he told the history of each of these places. It made me wish I had more time to really explore the country.