Railways, like Romans, prefer to take the direct route. Tom Jeffreys, trekking on foot from London to Birmingham along the putative course of the HS2 high-speed line, is more of a rambler.
There’s more to the lives of wild things than survival and death.
Gilbert White’s Natural History Of Selborne (1788) has been regarded since its publication as a landmark text in British nature-writing. Does it still cast a shadow? Do the nature writers of the past decade owe White a debt?
Is the creative process nothing but a lot of rot? Well, in a way, maybe it is.
To me, at least, the Highlands dishes up its treats in small portions.
“For centuries we have prized the same prejudices”, the vicar of an isolated Warwickshire village told H. V. Morton in 1926, “and we have grown up as naturally as my currant bushes out there. We were, you see, locked up here together with our fields and our imaginations.”
Wildcat and pine marten roam the forests; hawthorn and rosebay willowherb choke the country pathways. Fox and falcon flourish, flocks of rooks darken the fields, and beaver build in the upland waterways.
There is more than one way to lose yourself in a forest. Keeping still – “as still and quiet as a tree” – will do the job as surely as stumbling mapless into the wild, to judge from Sooyong Park’s deceptively intense account of filming endangered Amur tigers in south-eastern Siberia.
Carys Bray was born into a strict Mormon family in Southport, Merseyside. Her keenly anticipated first novel, A Song For Issy Bradley, tells the story of a Mormon family struggling to come to terms with the death of their youngest daughter, Issy.