About three months ago I met up with an old friend and during the evening we got onto the subject of books. She knows I love walking, she loves Scotland, she recommended a book called Between the Sunset and the Sea by Simon Ingram. When my daughter asked me the following week what I would like for Mothers Day, I had just the answer!
It’s a beautiful book, a new type of writing for me, Simon describes various walks he has done, but it isn’t a route book, it’s about the feelings and experiences you have walking through the mountains. It’s that mixture of excitement, fear, awe and exhilaration! It’s very much what I would call a slow read, it’s so beautifully written that you have to read every word – not skim through like I often do! He finishes the book with a lovely poem by Geoffrey Winthrop Young;
Only a hill: earth set a little higher
Above the face of the earth: a larger view
Of little fields and roads: a little nigher
To clouds and silence: what is that to you?
Only a hill: but all of life to me,
Up There, between the sunset and the sea.
This book was my bedtime reading – the writing is too small to read on the move!! It started me off on other similar walking / nature books;
The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane is a fascinating book, again it is just beautifully written. He describes lots of different walks using old roads and lanes such as an old drovers lane, or holloways. He walks across the sands off the Kent coast, he sails an old boat across shipping lanes in Scotland. The most poignant to me was a walk he did across the Cairngorms to his Grandfathers funeral, he collected some flowers and foliage along the way to place on his coffin. He describes the history and the ways of nature he sees along the way.
The Salt Path is by Raynor Winn. Three days after losing their home and livelihood, Ray and her husband of 32 years, Moth, discovered he was terminally ill with a degenerative brain condition. With nothing left they decided to walk the 630 mile South West Coast path which goes from Somerset, round Dorset and Devon and finally to Cornwall. It’s a story of the other side of homelessness, of human strength and endurance, and love.
Common Ground by Rob Cowan is set not far from here on the outskirts of Harrogate. Rob moved up from London, yearning for open space he started to explore some nearby ‘edge-land’, a mixture of wood, field, hedge and river which was pretty much abandoned. He discovers all the different layers of the area, the birds, animals, insects and plants, the history of the area too. As he watches the seasons change he is also waiting for the birth of his first child. It’s a very thoughtful book.
In Hidden Nature by Alys Fowler, Alys sets out to explore the Birmingham canal network by kayak, discovering the little-used waterways where pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Intertwined with this is Alys’s emotional journey as she comes out as a gay woman.As the blurb on the back cover says, it’s all about losing and finding, exploring familiar places and discovering unknown horizons.
Finally, another book by Robert MacFarlane, called The Wild Places. Robert tries to discover truly wild places in Britain, he explores shingle beaches, holloways, woods, mountains. Again it’s his beautiful writing that makes this a wonderful book.
I’ve two more Robert Macfarlane books to read and a few more ‘nature’ books I’ve heard about and added to my list!