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Britain and Ireland's Best Wild Places: 500 Essential Journeys Paperback – 4 May 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (4 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780141029221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141029221
  • ASIN: 0141029226
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

An excellent survey ... Somerville belongs to the fine tradition of British nature writers that [is] at once informative and poetic (Colin Tudge Financial Times)

A wonderful tome for anyone seeking wilderness on their doorstep (Country Walking)

Brilliant and heartfelt ... magnificent ... an extraordinary work which looks set to reconfigure our relationship with the great outdoors (Sunday Telegraph)

A true compendium of the wild coast and countryside ... you are left with the impression that here is a writer with whom you would like to spend time (Country Life)

Utterly charming ... a wonderful book and elegant reference guide (Irish Times)

Book Description

'Packed with unknown, exotic sounding locations, this truly is a book to rouse the explorative spirit within' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 July 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As soon as I saw this book, I knew that it would appeal to me. At present there are a great number of similarly themed books, all encouraging the reader to relinquish their place from the sofa and instead to get out into the countryside and experience the places within the pages for themselves. BRITAIN AND IRELAND'S BEST WILD PLACES is perhaps one of the best ways of beginning to do exactly that.

The book is organised into regions, beginning with The West Country, moving upwards throughout Britain before fianlly moving across to Ireland.
Each wild place has details of mapping and travel instructions, plus other useful information. For example, in the Republic of Ireland Somerville details the Nephin Beg mountains. Stating that the walk is a long one - 23 miles - he advises that you should not consider doing the walk solo unless very well experienced. And of course, that you should have all of the proper equipment if you do go on it. At the beginning of each section there is also a lovely old style map of the area, illustrating at a glance where each place is located.
For me, the success and delight of this book is the lay-out. You could easily give it as a gift to someone. Many of the wild places have an accompanying colour picture to tempt you, showing just enough of their allure to wet your appetite. But it is also the way that Somerville writes about the places which captures your imagination. The entry for Woodchester Mansion, for example, brilliantly manages to create the sense of the gothic that Somerville describes. Likewise, his entry for the "Bronte moors" shows how such a desolate and wild place could help to mold the literary imaginations of three young women.
This book is an absolute delight. I am so glad I purchased it.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By dprs on 5 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you love a wild or strange place then you should know about Christopher Somerville's new labour of love: a lyrical gazetteer to over 500 hidden and forgotten corners of the British Isles, each one a desolate, magical or inspirational place.

Christopher is one of Britain's most prolific travel writers. This guide and travelogue represents a synthesis of his life's adventures and treasured finds, whether the pagan May day eve chorus of Obby Osses in Padstow, the lost jungled underworld of the coastal undercliff in Dorset or the magical waterfall plunge pool of Cautley Spout in the Yorkshire Dales. Each is written with passion, history and anecdote and supported with grid references and directions.

There are also moody satin photos, wonderful line art icons (to help identify e.g. a water place, a myth, an urban setting etc) and 13 very detailed old world maps of our British and Irish regions.

A charming, poetic yet practical reference for any dreamer, tramper or naturalist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Moose on 21 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Like other reviewers here, I share the opinion that the strength of this book lies in its' accessibility. Logically organised, with useful maps at the beginning of each section make it a delight to dip into. So, why 3 stars - a bit harsh? Well, there are some surprising omissions - of the first ten or so places that I thought I'd look up (all places I've visited with the exception of one) 6 were absent: how about St Kilda, Hartland Point (truly one of the UK's wildest spots!), the Preseli Mountains, The Rhinogs, Romney Marsh and really close to home - the Welsh/Shropshire Marches: the latter described by Nicholas Crane in one of his books as 'an empty quarter' or very similar words (original source the UN, I think). The more I looked, the more places I found (Knoydart?). Well, OK, one cannot expect the author to have visited every square km of the UK and maybe I'm one for even wilder places - but, my personal opinion, some notable omissions and the lack of an index gets 3 stars. Nearly forgot, some great pictures too - make that 3.5 stars.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. E. G on 19 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully produced book which is not only clear and well- structured but informative and inspirational. You start by reading about places you have already visited and soon discover places you need to visit. The photography is real and the descriptions tempting. It is a perfect book to dip in and out of and suits experienced and novice walkers alike.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Athnamulloch on 16 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Somerville's book is clearly a work of love for him and its personalised and poetic accounts of some of Britain and Ireland's wild places is immediately accessible.

Wisely he talks of wild places rather than 'wilderness' which as well as difficult to define largely does not, it can be argued, truly exist in the UK. The entries are long enough to entice you to further investigation, he is strong on the history of places, and gives you enough information to seek them out yourself. There are no detailed guided walks or maps for the individual entries which is no bad thing and impossible in any case for a work of this depth. The photographs are largely by the author and they add to its unique feel as they look like the places that you and I visit rather than the ones a professional photographer evokes!

Any book of this nature is a subjective one and its important not to forget the wild places that are less well known on our own doorstep, in a hedgerow, a river valley, or a local wood which are intimate and in no need of 'discovering' by everyone.

My one criticism of the book as it applies to Scotland with which I am more familiar is a strange absence of reference to native forests. Its easy to fall into the habit of equating wild and 'bleak' in this part of the world and I would argue that the important remnants of Caledonian forest and Atlantic oakwoods are far less modified than the open mountain land denuded of forest by man and overgrazing which is seen as 'untouched' in the popular imagination. As such there is no reference bizarrely to Abernethy and Rothiemurchus forests in his entry on the Cairngorm or any reference to places such as say Glen Affric or Ariundle which give a truer glimpse of a wild Scotland.

With these reservations aside it is a book to be welcomed and an excellent addition our enjoyment of these beautiful islands.
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