A Cornish travel writer is due to release a thrilling new book his month which takes its inspiration from a walk he undertook between Launceston and the source of the River Tamar.

Penzance-born Tim Hannigan, well known for writing about distant and exotic destination, will this time be focussing his attention on Cornwall itself in his latest work, ‘The Granite Kingdom’.

Tim has previously written extensively about Asia, in books about the history of Indonesia, Pakistan and India, and in travel guides to countries including Nepal, Myanmar and China. But The Granite Kingdom: A Cornish Journey – published by Head of Zeus on May 11 – describes a 300-mile walk from the Cornish border to his own family home in Penwith.

Tim says that tackling the place he’s actually from was the most daunting writing project he’s ever undertaken.

“People were always asking me when I was going to write something about Cornwall – given that I’m always going on about its history and its landscapes. But it’s taken me a long time to pluck up the courage to actually do it,” he says. “To be honest, writing about somewhere on the other side of the world is much less challenging. If you write about your own homeland honestly, then you’re going to have to ask difficult questions about yourself in the process.”

To research the book, Tim walked from Launceston to the source of the River Tamar, then followed a meandering route westwards, all the way to Morvah, where he grew up.

“The walk itself took three weeks; but I then spent many months reading in the Morrab Library in Penzance, Kresen Kernow and elsewhere. I’ve used the journey as a way to explore Cornish history, and also to explore the way Cornwall has been represented in art and literature and film over the years, and to consider how those representations impact on the way Cornish people like me see ourselves. That’s where the project got very personal, and sometimes a bit uncomfortable.”

Tim says he is prepared for a certain amount of controversy: “These days, you can’t say anything about Cornish history – and especially about things like the Celts and the language and the rebellions of the 15th and 16th centuries – without someone getting all hot and bothered. But sometimes the stories we like to tell ourselves about these things need a bit more critical attention.”

The book has been praised ahead of publication by other Cornwall-based authors. Renowned travel writer Philip Marsden has described it as “A magnificent work of travel and historical deconstruction – deeply personal, meticulously researched and hugely enjoyable,” while acclaimed novelist Wyl Menmuir has called it a journey which “takes the reader to the heart of Cornwall and Cornishness.”

Tim, who is the son of former Newlyn fisherman-turned-writer Des Hannigan, originally worked as a chef in hotels and restaurants around West Cornwall after leaving school. He then studied journalism at the University of Gloucester, and moved to Indonesia where he began his writing career as a travel journalist. His previous books include Murder in the Hindu Kush and The Travel Writing Tribe.

Tim will be speaking about The Granite Kingdom during Fowey Festival on May 14, at Waterstones in Truro at 7pm on May 23, at the Edge of the World Bookshop in Penzance at 7.30pm on May 25, and at various other local literary festivals over the coming months.