Miles from cities and motorways, the backdrop to Louis de Bernières’s latest novel is a place for spooky hikes and a real escape from the 21st century
Forget satnav, the best way to find your way around the wild granite uplands of Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor is to invest in an old-fashioned Ordnance Survey map. That’s exactly what writer Louis de Bernières did when he was exploring the setting for his new novel Light Over Liskeard, a “heartwarming” dystopian fantasy in which the hero (a quantum cryptographer called Q) seeks refuge and self-sufficiency in a remote moorland farmhouse while waiting for the collapse of civilisation.
The author of the best-selling Captain Corelli’s Mandolin chose Bodmin Moor, he says, because “it’s one of the furthest places from any centres of population”. The moor is ringed by small towns (including Liskeard) and scattered with tiny huddled villages, but there are no cities for miles, no handy motorways and not much in the way of reliable phone reception (the notion of life off-grid seems very real up here among the craggy tors of the High Moor). And in one of Cornwall’s least-visited regions, it is easy to find yourself completely alone.