There are Wild Places Almost Round The Corner
Robert Macfarlane writes a lyric, prose poem to the English landscape, which I enjoyed enormously, but with a sense of panic and loss, during the first two thirds of the book, where his focus on ‘wild places’ were those areas probably untouched by man, almost impossible to access (you need, paradoxically, a car to get you within a day or so’s walk of them!!) and, of course, disappearing fast. He focuses inevitably upon the far North (Scotland) and the far West (Ireland)
However, as he moves South, walking with his friend the late wonderful Roger Deakin, he begins to shift emphasis, and ‘sees heaven in a grain of sand’ – the wild is not only far away and up mountains, the wild is also the untramelled, fertile growth of green things, the way nature reclaims landscapes, though of course, even this is under threat as we rip out hedgerows, tarmac the earth and lay roads. Macfarlane shifts his view from ‘big wild’ – high snow capped mountains, harsh and cold, to small, almost secret wild, for example, the mysterious ‘hollow ways’ relics of our past walkings, of landscapes eroded by feet, hooves, cartwheels and water, to form hidden ravine type lanes, particularly in the chalklands.
I also really was taken with his exploration of mapping, and the difference between our measured, linear maps – OS and road maps, and another kind of mapping, which tells a story and is the narrative of a person or a community in connection with their landscape.
The book also serves as the story of a lovely kindred soul friendship between him and Deakin.