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The Riddle Of The Sands Adventure Club

Come on an adventure with Erskine Childers' classic spy novel and produce the ultimate Handbook Edition by Lloyd Shepherd and Tim Wright

250 more pledges needed


The Synopsis

The Synopsis

Ahoy! Welcome to The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club.

The central mission of the Club is to convert one of the nation’s favourite ripping yarns into a real-life adventure - and then publish the new story of that adventure, both in digital form and in print.

The yarn in question is ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ by Erskine Childers, first published in 1903. Set on the windswept sea shores and islands of Germany’s Baltic and North Sea coasts, the story has two British heroes stumbling onto a dastardly conspiracy which could change the world. Think Richard Hannay in oilskins or Eric Ambler wearing a sou’wester.

This is a book that is curiously specific about dates and locations. Our two heroes – Carruthers and Davies – meet at Flensburg, Germany on September 26 and end their adventures on October 26 at Ostmahorn, Holland. It’s entirely possible, therefore, to map out the entire story day-by-day.

Better still, the book offers the enticing prospect of being able to retrace accurately the footsteps and sailing routes of Carruthers & Davies, and thus, to play out the book in real time.

Lloyd notDavies and Tim notCarruthers aim to walk, cycle and sail the route from Flensburg to Ostamahorn using only the book as our guide – stopping when night falls in one chapter and continuing the journey the next day, starting from the very next sentence in the book, in the exact same timeframe as the novel itself.

When we’ve completed the adventure part of our project, we will have all the elements needed to create a very special Handbook Edition of the Riddle of the Sands

This will contain the original text of Childers’ novel, beautifully assembled with exquisite charts, photographs and illustrations. And it will also be a guide to the places featured, a travelogue of our adventures reliving its events, and a set of fascinating historical anecdotes that put the story into context. There’ll be practical information about planning your own adventure – boat hire, cycle paths, hotels, B&Bs, places to visit. And there’ll be pictures and, of course, maps. Lots and lots of maps.


On September, 23 when the adventure begins, those who have paid to support the project will be able to access the site and, for a month, follow our adventures in northern Germany, as we seek to follow in the footsteps (or rather the wake) of Carruthers and Davies.

There’ll be videos, photos, blog posts and, most importantly, we’ll be reading the book, day-by-day, from the very places it describes. By the end of the adventure – on October 26 – we’ll have a full unabridged atmospheric Field Audiobook.

Already hundreds of Club members are enjoying free podcasts, regular posts from notCarruthers and notDavies and lots of useful comments, insights and information from fellow Club Members at

So what are you waiting for? Pledge your support and join the Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club today. As Davies writes in his letter to Carruthers: “Forgive this hail of directions, but I’ve a sort of feeling that I’m in luck and that you’ll come.”

The Excerpt

In The Shed on Unbound, everyone who pledges support for the Handbook can get hold off a free sample chapter covering October 2 in the book. You’ll also find the Field Audiobook files for October 2 and October 3 in the Shed - but only after you’ve pledged.

We publish loads of free content on - including regular podcasts that can also be found on Soundcloud and iTunes - that will give you a strong sense of what we’re about.

The elements that will make up the Handbook they are:

The Locatd Edition

During one of our many wanderings, this time in Lincolnshire, we acquired a ragged 1920s edition of ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ that not only seems to be chopped up by date, but also has notes scribbled all over by its owner, known as ‘H.G’ – or maybe ‘O.K’. We’ll be reproducing pages from this edition and will attempt to decode what all the scribbles mean…

2: The Original Text

The Handbook will include Childers’s original story, so you can take this great adventure novel out into the field and follow it day by day.

3. Maps

We’re going to produce maps that merge the world of 1898 with present-day Germany, so you can follow the route of Carruthers and Davies precisely (or as precisely as nature and modern trespass laws will allow).

4. Advice for Adventurers, Historical & Cultural Notes

There’ll be Handbook entries on where to stay, what to eat, things to see and do – and a wealth of information about all the references in the original book to historic landmarks, people of note, clothes, food, national customs, politics, war, duck-shooting, sailing, piracy, pipes and so much more.

5. Photos & Archive Images

The Handbook will not only contain photos from our travels through modern-day Germany, but also

relevant archive material that relates to incidents and references in the book.

6. More Maps

For every day in the book there’ll be a map to guide you through the adventure and show you exactly where Carruthers and Davies are at point in the story.


The Authors


Erskine Childers was a loyal servant of the British Empire who went on to challenge the authorities in direct and controversial circumstances.

Born in London in 1870 to an Englishman and an Irishwoman, Childers was an orphan by the age of 12 and was raised by his Anglo-Irish family in County Wicklow. He studied law at Cambridge and became a junior committee clerk in the House of Commons. He also took up sailing, learning the ropes while sailing alone in the Thames Estuary on his ‘scrubby little yacht’ Shulah. Only four years later he was sailing with his brother across the North Sea to the Frisian Islands, the location for The Riddle of the Sands.

Childers’s attitude towards Britain and the Empire became increasingly complex and troubled. He became convinced of the need for Irish independence, and even sailed a boat full of German weapons to the Irish Volunteers in 1914. When war broke out, Childers was given a reserve commission in the intelligence arm of the Royal Navy. He was decorated in 1916 for service in the Admiralty - the same year as the Easter Rising in Ireland.

Dismayed with Britain’s repressive response to the 1916 rising, Childers moved to Ireland after the war. In 1921 he was elected to the Second Dáil as a Sinn Féin member, and was secretary-general of the Irish delegation at the historic Anglo-Irish Treaty meetings of that year. Childers was violently opposed to the consequent treaty, and took the republican side in the ensuing Irish civil war against the Irish Free State. He was executed by a Free State firing squad on 24 November in Dublin. His son, Erskine Hamilton Childers, would later become President of the Republic of Ireland.


Neither Tim nor Lloyd can boast a past as colourful as that of Erskine Childers. They are seasoned culture-walkers, having wandered together along both shores of the Thames Estuary and followed in the footsteps of Syd Barrett as he walked, unaccompanied, from London to Cambridge.

Tim is an experienced digital author and interactive producer who has already produced a pilot version of his ‘bookmapping’ idea using Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped as his guide. From 30th June to 25th August 2009, he followed a route across Scotland from the south western tip of Mull to the outskirts of Edinburgh. The results of this experiment can explored at

Lloyd is the author of three acclaimed historical mysteries: The English Monster, The Poisoned Island, and Savage Magic. His books are set in the early 19th century and feature the proto-detective Charles Horton and his irascible magistrate John Harriott, both of the Thames River Police in Wapping. His fourth book is published in 2015. In 2013, Lloyd took part in the Disorient Express, a successful attempt to visit 22 European cities in 17 days, entirely by train. You can read about it at

In their former lives, Tim was a partner at Noho Digital, one of the first independent digital-only agencies to appear in London in the early 1990s, and XPT, a groundbreaking interactive entertainment company specialising in crossplatform drama and comedy. Lloyd was deputy director for digital publishing at The Guardian, and has also held senior roles at Yahoo, the BBC and Channel 4.


Brian Lunn
Brian Lunn asked:

Hi guys,

This sounds an intruiging concept and I will, without doubt, choose one of the support options. First though I wanted to check if the hardback edition included the audiobook or is that only available with the £15 pledge?


Lloyd Shepherd
Lloyd Shepherd replies:

Hi Brian - yep, it does. The Hardback edition includes all the components of the options beneath it.

Brian Lunn
Brian Lunn asked:

Great. Thanks Lloyd... pledged. Good luck

Lloyd Shepherd
Lloyd Shepherd replies:

Thank you Brian! Much appreciated.

Adam Moliver
Adam Moliver asked:

Are you asking people to support your (great-sounding ) holiday ?
Love R of the S so might chip in..its a good idea.

Tim Wright
Tim Wright replies:

Ahoy Adam.

Yes, it could rather look that way, but actually producing a month-long web show with daily updates as we travel, and then producing a book afterwards is actually going to be quite a lot of work. The trick is making the whole thing look like it's easy & fun. :)

For a bit more detail of the 'work' aspects of this project including details about the technical aspects and the kit we'll be taking, check out this article on The Bookseller:

And don't forget we're adding free-to-air podcasts and posts regularly on

Do hope to have you on board, Adam. and do alert any other ROTS lovers you know. It's our love of the book that is driving this whole project.

Renlau Outil
Renlau Outil asked:


I pledged and am fascinated and impressed and in awe of your creativity and what (hopefully) will also prove to be your awesome stamina and great tech savviness (if that's an actual word). But yes, the ultimate prize must surely be to make it look fun and easy and for this reason I urge you to take babywipes with you. I don't go anywhere off the beaten track these days without babywipes. Werner Herzog may well say that he never leaves home without bolt cutters, but I'm saying that, realistically, and knowing me, babywipes are best.

Good luck.

Tim Wright
Tim Wright replies:

Ahoy! Thanks so much for your support.

Baby wipes or bolt cutters? Hmm. We may need both.

I'm unhappy to say my dog's favourite park snack is a used wipe so I'm rather against them on environmental grounds. Are they even biodegradable?!

nigel ringrose

A great initiative. Can you confirm that your "adventure" will be in the same sequence as Dulcibella's - in other words FROM Flensburg to Holland? As you know, from Kiel onwards, the journey east to west is considerably more difficult than west to east. Will you also make the journey in a shallow draught boat - so that you can get behind the Hohenhorn, Neuwerk etc and re-trace the row across to Memmert? And, ideally, without an engine!

Lloyd Shepherd
Lloyd Shepherd replies:

Hi Nigel - yes, we will be going in the same sequence BUT (and it's a big but) - we're not doing this by water. We're going by land with occasional excursions onto the water. We are not sailors, but lots of sailors have lent us a hand with the project so far, and we hope to be learning a good deal about the art of sail as we go - but this is essentially a land-based mission.

nigel ringrose

A great initiative. Can you confirm you will make the journey FROM Flensburg to Oostmahoorn? On the North Sea side, the passage east-west is so much more difficult than west-east. Will you also use a shallow-draft boat so that you can get behind Hohenhorn, Neuwerk etc? And have a dinghy with you for retracing the row across to Memmert?

Lloyd Shepherd
Lloyd Shepherd replies:

Hi Nigel - we are not actually planning to make this trip by boat, or at least not entirely. Most of it will be by bike, though we'll take boats to investigate particular episodes or places. Sticking to the timetable of the book in a boat would be impossible, and we also want to explore the cultural aspects of the book as well as the maritime ones. Hope that helps! Lloyd

Kai Weilert
Kai Weilert asked:

Will the e-book edition include "... photography, articles, explainers and tips from our adventure, including instructions on how to have your own adventure" as the handbook edition does?

Lloyd Shepherd
Lloyd Shepherd replies:

Hi Kai - yes indeed! Though of course photography doesn't always work beautifully in ebooks - but we'll do the best we can.

Philip Speirs
Philip Speirs asked:

Having already pledged £10, I am willing to add another £15 to raise my pledge to the £25 level - How do I do this so that I will be registered as a £25er in your files ?
I have found the blogs and articles really interesting and well researched - such a lot of work - that I would like to improve on my initial, meagre, offering !
Having found the original novel fascinating, I had pondered on taking my cycle to sample the "Riddle " environment myself, but at 72, this may now be not so realistic.
Best of luck to the 21st century Carruthers and Davies when they set out later this year.

Unbound replies:

Hi Philip,

You certainly can upgrade to the £25 level. I have deleted the £10 pledge and you now have £10 in your account to go towards the upgrade to hardback. As the hardback edition is a physical edition, then there will be an additional postage cost to pay when you upgrade. Just follow this unique link to upgrade your pledge.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Manager

Pat Newsome
Pat Newsome asked:

On the same subject as Philip ie. upgrades, I would have liked to pledge for the Navigator edition but it says SOLD OUT on the Unbound site. Is that correct and if so, how come? You could have had another £25!

Tim Wright
Tim Wright replies:

Hi Pat

Sadly, it is true that there is no Navigator version to be had. It was just getting too complicated for Unbound to produce it in the right numbers. You could always pledge for TWO copies of the Handbook and give one to a friend! :)

Best wishes

Tim (notC)

Pat Newsome
Pat Newsome asked:

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your response to my upgrade to Navigator edition. Sehr amusant Herr notCarruthers! I suppose it is a thought; if you could persuade all pledgers to double up, your problems are solved!



Tim Wright
Tim Wright replies:

Haha. You saw through my cunning plan, Pat.

Pat Newsome
Pat Newsome asked:

Ahoy Tim and Lloyd,

Unless I'm missing something, all seems to have gone quiet on the website and I see that we are some way from the pledges needed. Can you advise the plan from here? Is the mission likely to be aborted or delayed further?



Tim Wright
Tim Wright replies:

Hi Pat

You're right. We are still short of our target. At the moment we're trying to get companies we know interested in the Digital Masterclass offer, and devoting our energies to emailing people directly about the project, rather than updating the website with new content (there is quite a lot for people to enjoy there, we think). We'll take a view about how to proceed by the end of August. Thanks for your continued interest and support. Best wishes Tim notCarruthers.

The Rewards

All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include immediate access to the author's shed.

Adventure Club Access and E-book
Access to The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club, e-book edition, your name in the back of the book, and access to the shed
📖 Pledge £10 14 pledges
Field Audiobook
A unique audiobook reading of The Riddle of the Sands, recorded live on the ground in London, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, plus access to The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club, e-book edition, your name in the back of the book, and access to the Unbound shed
📖 Pledge £15 11 pledges
Handbook Edition
A beautiful edition of The Riddle of the Sands alongside photography, articles, explainers and tips from our adventure, including instructions on how to have your own adventure, plus access to The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club, e-book edition, your name in the back of the book, and access to the shed
📖 Pledge £25 150 pledges
A signed edition of The Riddle of the Sands alongside photography, articles, explainers and tips from our adventure, including instructions on how to have your own adventure, plus access to The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club, e-book edition, your name in the back of the book, and access to the Unbound shed
📖 Pledge £35 33 pledges
Navigator Edition
A signed special flexibound edition of the Handbook with fold out map, for use out of doors! Plus access to The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club, e-book edition, your name in the back of the book, and access to the Unbound shed
Sold out
Launch Party
Two invites to launch party, plus a signed first edition hardback, the e-book, access to the Unbound shed and the Adventure Club
📖 Pledge £80 16 pledges
Film Club
A showing of The Riddle of the Sands at a London location. Have a drink with your fellow Adventure Club members, watch the film, and hear from Tim and Lloyd about their own adventures, plus everything up to the Collectable level
📖 Pledge £100 10 pledges
End of the Adventure Show
Welcome Lloyd and Tim home fresh off the boat from their adventure in London and be one of the first to see their pictures and hear their ripping yarns! Plus everything up to the Collectable level
📖 Pledge £150 4 pledges
Digital Storytelling Masterclass
A day-long masterclass from Tim and Lloyd on how to teach your company or organisation the power of digital storytelling - how to build loyal online communities, and how to master the arts of blogging, vlogging, podcasting and social media management to grow your potential consumers or engage your employees. Suits around 10-15 people.
Travel Not Included