Award-winning writer, President of the Royal Geographical Society and co-presenter of the BBC’s Coast series, Nicholas Crane embarks upon an epic geological journey across 12,000 years of the British landscape, from the Ice Age to the twenty-first century, combining the latest scientific research on climate change with captivating story-telling. This urgent and timely new book explores the ancient relationship between people and place and the deep-rooted tensions between town and countryside.
Nicholas Crane speaks with Peter Waine, a former chairman of CPRE and of both the National Fruit Collection (at Brogdale) and of the Tree Council. He is the co-author (with Oliver Hilliam) of 22 Ideas That Saved The English Countryside.
This event is held in association with the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain project. Caroline Millar, Project Manager of Discovering Britain will give a short presentation about this unique project and why every landscape, even the most seemingly mundane, has a story to tell.
Clover Stroud talks about her powerful story of an idyllic Oxfordshire childhood shattered by a riding accident that left her mother permanently brain-damaged and sent her searching for a sense of home that had been so violently broken.
The author’s search saw her on a journey that took in gipsy camps in Ireland, the rodeos of West Texas and the war-torn Caucasus region of Russia. Her story is one of grief, motherhood, depression and the healing power of nature and horses.
Katharine Norbury, acclaimed author of The Fish Ladder, will be chairing this event.
In 2014 Carol Donaldson set out on a series of walks across the marshes, travelling from Gravesend to Whitstable. Both an act of pilgrimage for a landscape she loves and a journey of discovery into why people are drawn to live there, Carol meets and stays with the houseboat owners and caravan dwellers, the hermits who live in the woods and the men who choose to die in these remote places.
On The Marshes evokes the landscape and atmosphere of a marginalised corner of England. Carol writes from lived experience and weaves her own story of alienation with those who have made the marshes their home. And along the way she never shys away from confronting the issues of cultural conflict so pertinent today, between marsh-dwellers and corporate England, between private ownership and conservation, between one way of living and another.
Carol will be talking to Ros Coward, author and Guardian columnist. Nature Matters, a collection of her columns from the Guardian and Resurgence magazine, was published earlier this year. She is also the author of, amongst other books, Female Desire, and The Whole Truth, the Myth of Alternative Medicine.
In Philip Pullman’s words, Jay Griffiths’ “work isn’t just good – it’s necessary.”
Jay Griffiths is an award-winning author of books including Wild: An Elemental Journey, Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape and Tristimania.
In its urgent defence of the rights and needs of every child, Kith is an impassioned, illuminating analysis of the heart of human experience. The author explores children’s affinity for the natural world, for animals and woodlands, and examines the quest element of childhood.
Tristimania is a raw and poetic account of a mind lost in madness, and how the author found her way back from the wilderness. In 2013, while completing work on Kith, the author suffered a devastating, year-long episode of manic depression, culminating in the author undertaking the formidable Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain without companions or support to find a cure for the torments of the mind.
In his latest book, Linescapes, Hugh Warwick unravels the far-reaching ecological consequences of the lines we have drawn through our hedges, walls, roads and railways: as our lives and our land were being fenced in and threaded together, so wildlife habitats have been cut into ever smaller, and increasingly unviable, fragments. He offers a fresh and bracing perspective on Britain’s countryside, one that proposes a challenge and gives ground for hope; for while nature does not tend to straight lines and discrete borders, our lines can and do contain a real potential for wildness and for wildlife.
Hugh is in conversation with the celebrated author, naturalist and environmental tutor, Mark Cocker. Mark’s books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and memoir. His latest are Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet and Birds and People.
The Seasons Anthologies, edited by Melissa Harrison and published in association with The Wildlife Trusts, is a true celebration of the seasons. A collection of writing both classic and modern, and from all corners of the UK, these anthologies mix prose and poetry dating back a thousand years to tell the story of each season’s progress across these isles.
In Rain, Melissa Harrison explores our relationship with the weather as she follows the course of four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor. Blending these expeditions with reading, research, memory and imagination, she reveals how rain is not just an essential element of the world around us, but a key part of our own identity too.
Melissa shares her experiences of the seasons and the weather with Dan Richards whose previous books include Holloway (co-authored with Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Stanley Donwood) and Climbing Days. His next book Outpost will tell the story of his tour of different wilderness outposts across the world.
This event is in association with Kent Wildlife Trust.
Fiona Reynolds, Anna Pavord and Oliver Hilliam explore the joys to be found in nature, the threats faced by today’s landscapes and the possible solutions to some of the pressing issues of our times.
Fiona Reynolds is Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and a former Director-General of the National Trust. In her first book, The Fight for Beauty, she distils decades of experience and thought concerning landscapes and the natural world and proposes a solution that is at once radical and simple – to inspire us through the beauty of the world around us.
Anna Pavord is the author of many highly cherished gardening books, including The Tulip. In her latest book, Landskipping, she explores the different ways in which we have, throughout the ages, responded to the land as well as the meaning of roots and what we mean by a sense of place.
Oliver Hilliam is senior communications and information officer at CPRE and co-author (with Peter Waine) of 22 Ideas That Saved The English Countryside, a book that tells the story of the evolution of England’s relationship with the countryside and our desire to defend it from the forces of industrialisation and urban sprawl.
Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan, or, The Whale, returns to an aquatic theme with his new book, RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, a composite portrait of the subtle, beautiful and inspired ways in which we have come to terms with our watery planet.
In his latest book, the author goes in pursuit of human and animal stories of the sea. Out of the storm-clouds of the twenty-first century and our restive time, these stories reach back into the past and forward into the future. This is a shape-shifting world that has never been certain, caught between the natural and unnatural, where the state between human and animal is blurred. Time, space, gender and species become as fluid as the sea.
Philip Hoare is in conversation with Tim Dee, acclaimed writer, BBC radio producer and author of The Running Sky and Four Fields.
Richard Osmond’s brilliant debut poetry collection, Useful Verses, follows in the tradition of the best nature writing, being as much about the human world as the natural, the present as the past: Osmond, a professional forager, has a deep knowledge of flora and fauna as they appear in both natural and human history, as they are depicted in both folklore and herbal – but he views them through a wholly contemporary lens. Doing so, Osmond offers an arresting and new perspective, and makes that hidden world that lives and breathes beside us vividly part of our own.
Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, award-winning writer, journalist and gardener Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham’s canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart.
Her beautiful memoir is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it. What happens when someone who has learned to observe her external world in such detail decides to examine her internal world with the same care? Above all, this book is about losing and finding, exploring familiar places and discovering unknown horizons.
Allan Jenkins is editor of Observer Food Monthly. A beautifully written, haunting memoir, Plot 29 is a mystery story and meditation on nature and nurture. It’s also a celebration of the joy to be found in sharing food and flowers with people you love.
In litter-strewn Epping Forest on the edge of London, might a writer find that magical moment of transcendence? He will certainly discover filthy graffiti and frightening dogs, as well as world-renowned artists and fading celebrities, robbers, lovers, ghosts and poets. But will he find himself? Or a version of himself he might learn something from?
Strange Labyrinth is a quest narrative arguing that we shouldn’t get lost in order to find ourselves, but solely to accept that we are lost in the first place. It has been billed as a future cult classic in which landscape writing meets punk history, academic troublemaking, psychogeography and memoir.
Having worked as a music journalist, Will Ashon founded the record label Big Dada Recordings in 1996, signing acts like Roots Manuva, Wiley, Diplo, Kate Tempest and Young Fathers and, in the process, winning the Mercury Music Prize twice.
Dan Richards is the author of Holloway (co-authored with Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Stanley Donwood), The Beechwood Airship Interviews and Climbing Days. His next book Outpost will tell the story of his tour of different wilderness outposts across the world. Dan was Rough Trade Writer in Residence for 2016.
The Reverend Peter Owen Jones has walked the length and breadth of the British Isles. In Pathlands, he has collected 21 of his favourite circular walks and shares his thoughts on the experience and the transformative experience of walking. Peter has fronted many acclaimed television documentaries including, most recently, South Downs: England’s Mountains Green, in which he journeys along the South Downs Way, revealing a land that has been shaped by man ever since the end of the last Ice Age.
The January Man is the story of a year of walks. Month by month, region by region, and season by season, Times columnist and author Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that remind him of his father with whom he shared a love of long distance walking. As he travels the country from the River Severn to the Lake District, the Norfolk Coast to the Isle of Foula off the west coast of Shetland, he describes the history, wildlife, changing landscapes and people he passes and reflects upon his childhood and the relationship with his father.