From the author of The Old Ways and Underland, an "eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we're laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth's surface." --Bill McKibben
Winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature and a finalist for the Orion Book Award
Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago's most remarkable landscapes. He climbs, walks, and swims by day and spends his nights sleeping on cliff-tops and in ancient meadows and wildwoods. With elegance and passion he entwines history, memory, and landscape in a bewitching evocation of wildness and its vital importance.
In this eloquent travelogue, Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind) explores the last undomesticated landscapes in Britain and Ireland in a narration that blends history, memoir and meditation. Macfarlane journeys to salt marshes, mountaintops, forests, beaches, constantly expanding and refining his understanding of wildness. Walking a Lake District ridge at night, he observes that with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss. Crossing a moor, he finds its vastness and resistance to straight lines of progress analogous to the inability of mere words to convey a landscape's variety and immensity. Nonetheless, Macfarlane's language is as surprising and precise as his environments, with such evocative phrases as heat jellying the air, ice lidded the puddles and descriptions of birds that gild a tree and the sky as a steady tall blue. His striking prose not only evokes each locale's physicality in sensuous, deliberate detail, it glows with a reverence for nature in general and takes the reader on both a geographical and a philosophical journey, as mind-expanding as any of his wild places.
This is a stunning work on wilderness by an author whose senses are fully engaged, and whose language is both precise and lyrical.