The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane - review by Ronald Blythe

Ronald Blythe

A World Behind Our Own

The Wild Places


Granta Books 340pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The Wild Places must be the most eloquent tribute paid by a young naturalist to his mentor for many a long year. Robert Macfarlane was a friend of the wonderful Roger Deakin, who died last August. These fifteen perfect essays relating travels off the well-trodden paths sparkle like early morning. Their combination of physical and spiritual adventure creates a kind of peregrinating enchantment as, like Deakin, Macfarlane gets about the hard way. His body as well as his mind has been in close contact with the regions he describes, and in this he is like a new Edward Thomas or Coleridge, long-walkers who had to leave the main road in order to find themselves.

Most of what we call the ‘wild’ remains so because it stays out of ordinary reach or use. Even now, with hefty transport, we tend to stay in sight of it, rather than in it. We look at the black wood, the vast moor or the peak only from the

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