If You Fall... a New Beginning


"I always thought I'd rather be dead than paralysed: One slip, one moment and everything changes..." Most of us live life in a safe zone but some individuals look over the edge. A few years ago, Karen Darke was on a rock-climbing expedition on sea cliffs in Scotland. She fell, and was paralysed. This is Karen's story about coming to terms with her lost of movement from the chest down and regaining the will to live. Out of her disability comes strength to embrace, challenge and transform it into an opportunity to learn and grow. It is also about the borderline between body and spirit. Karen is drawn into the world of faith healing and spirit surgeons in the Brazilian jungle. In testing these improbable claims she explores her own inner world and self whilst regaining her confidence. Combining wheels with wilderness, Karen escapes the city and embarks on an evermore daring series of adventures by hand-cycle, ski and kayak. Karen's story is inspiring and energizing; it will help everybody who reads it to respond positively, to overcome adversity, and to strive for their dreams.


Karen's adventure story takes you from the brink of death to handcycling the heights of the Himalayas...to the rusty knife of a Brazilian spirit surgeon. It is a story not just of climbing and courage, but one of inner journeying and spirituality. Out of Karen's wound comes a strength to embrace the challenge and transform it into an opportunity to learn and grow from.

Karen's captivating story shines a bright light on the meaning of challenge, and on the limitless capabilities of the human spirit.

Modest and thoughtful, Karen is a highly sought after and successful speaker, whose stories inspire all those who take time to reflect on what it took to achieve them.

You can order a signed copy of the book for £10. Postage is free in the UK.

Book Review for Good Company written by Jackie Scutt

When I was getting to know Karen, she was preparing to cross the icy stretches of Greenland on skis, making her the first person to accomplish this feat as a wheelchair user. Wow. But also, why? I am one of those people born without a physically pioneering gene, with an utter failure of imagination when it comes to this kind of extreme expedition. The publication of Karen’s story was a chance to gain some insight. It’s called If You Fall … and she does. From a cliff-face in Aberdeen. A 21 year old PhD student of geology now paralysed from the chest down.

A word of advice: don’t read it on the train because you’ll gasp aloud and display some distress at this bit. The subject of the book isn’t the fall, however, but the new beginning of the subtitle. That first defining incident is described as a “free fall from life” marking out the beginning of a tortuous emotional journey that takes her, and us, to some far flung places. To Australia to pick up her “Green Beast”, a tandem recumbent tricycle with hand-pedals at the front and foot-pedals at the back which was the vehicle of choice for touring the Outer Hebrides with a friend. To Brazil to go under the “rusty knife” of a deceased German spirit doctor. (Don’t ask, you have to read that for yourself.) The terrain is interesting but the inner journey is the page turner. To see it as a search to come to terms with her paralysis misses the point. It’s a personal quest for wisdom and understanding, a quest we all share in one way or another, and Karen uses her story to challenge the reader to think about their own physical, emotional and spiritual struggles. Karen is the least paralysed person I know and while she has clearly attained some kind of inner peace, her compelling life journey continues apace.

If You Fall... (signed paperback)>

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