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Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills [Paperback]

Neil Ansell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

2 Feb 2012

Deep Country is Neil Ansell's account of five years spent alone in a hillside cottage in Wales.

'I lived alone in this cottage for five years, summer and winter, with no transport, no phone. This is the story of those five years, where I lived and how I lived. It is the story of what it means to live in a place so remote that you may not see another soul for weeks on end. And it is the story of the hidden places that I came to call my own, and the wild creatures that became my society.'

'A beautiful, translucent portrayal of mid-Wales' Jay Griffiths

'Touching. Through Ansell's charming and thoroughly detailed stories of run-ins with red kites, curlews, sparrowhawks, jays and ravens, we see him lose himself . . . in the rhythms and rituals of life in the British wilderness' Financial Times

'Remarkable, fascinating' Time Out

'A gem of a book, an extraordinary tale. Ansell's rich prose will transport you to a real life Narnian world that CS Lewis would have envied. Find your deepest, most-comfortable armchair and get away from it all' Countryfile

Neil Ansell spent five years living on a remote hillside in Wales, and wrote his first book, Deep Country, about the experience. Since that time, he has become an award-winning television journalist with the BBC. He has travelled in over fifty countries and has written for the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Big Issue.


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Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills + A Year in the Woods: The Diary of a Forest Ranger + Notes from Walnut Tree Farm
Price For All Three: 20.27

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141049324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141049328
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Extraordinary...Deep Country is so powerful --Nick Groom, Independent

His rich prose will transport you to a real life Narnian world that CS Lewis would have envied --Jules Hudson, BBC Countryfile

A life that may redefine the word solitary yet is also crowded by the thrum of the natural world --Metro

For those of us enslaved by mortgages and consumerism or dull work...this book will resonate with its many epiphanies. --Caught by the River

A beautiful, translucent portrayal of mid-Wales --Jay Griffiths, author of Wild

For those of us enslaved by mortgages and consumerism or dull work...this book will resonate with its many epiphanies --Caught by the River

A beautiful, translucent portrayal of mid-Wales --Jay Griffiths, author of The Wild

A life that may redefine the word solitary yet is also crowded by the thrum of the natural world.
--Metro --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Neil Ansell spent five years living on a remote hillside in Wales, and wrote his first book, Deep Country, about the experience. Since that time, he has become an award-winning television journalist with the BBC. He has travelled in over fifty countries and has written for the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Big Issue.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Immerse yourself in nature with a man of mystery 23 Jan 2013
By Kirky
Format:Paperback
This reminds me of observational books about nature written by Denys Watkins-Pitchford [aka 'BB'] in the 1960s. Very evocative, poetic writing about wildlife and the environment that takes you to another place. Personally, though, I'd have preferred more information about exactly what the author did during his five years in the wilds and the challenges of day-to-day life in such extraordinary circumstances. He gives very little away about himself or his background - other than the two sentences on the very first page. [A 3-minute video on YouTube reveals more]. But perhaps I'm missing the point ...
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By A Common Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Neil Ansell had the opportunity to rent a dilapidated cottage deep in the hills of Mid-Wales, in countryside so remote that you could walk twenty miles in one direction without encountering another dwelling. What started as short-term let, turned out to be a five-year period of solitary living, far removed from the services we expect to find today - hot water from a tap, central heating and plumbing. The rent of 100 a year reflected the lack of services but failed to take account of the incredible beauty of the location and the land available to the tenant.

Neil has a great affinity with nature and things which would phase other people were causes of delight. I am not sure how I would feel about sharing my home with twenty of thirty bats for example. Even Neil however baulked at the spring-invasions of mice - fortunately the pretty field mouse variety rather than the disease carrying house mouse. The mice reduced Neil to hanging food in carrier bags from ham hooks embedded in the ceiling. The only way Neil could reduce the population of mice was to trap them and carry them across a river where he released them. No doubt killing them would have had no effect other than to make space for others.

Neil found that his life settled down into natural rhythms. He even developed his own rituals, such as seeing in the New Year from the summit of his hill or walking overnight into the hills at the Summer Solstice so he could watch the dawn from a mountain top. Five years of solitude was broken up by visits from friends, but Neil became accustomed to his way of life and found that he welcomed the return to quietness when they departed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to be content on your own 6 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great book describing Neil Ansell's life in the Welsh Hills. It is inspiring how, by becoming immersed in the local wildlife, particularly the birds, he seems so content being in his own company (although it is reassuring that he does have friends visiting and is in no way a social outcast). Whilst it certainly made me want to go and live in a similar way, it would have been nice to learn more about his wider experiences rather than having an overwhelming focus on birdlife. Although, perhaps this was such an important part of his life that it warranted the attention and from now on I will be watching the birds in my garden more carefully!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sublime 21 Nov 2012
By Laplume
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Close the curtains, put another log on the fire, pour yourself a glass of red and sit back and enjoy. They say 'lose yourself in a book' and this is exactly what you can do with 'Deep Country'. The detailed descriptions of the weather, countryside and wildlife make you feel as though you are there. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical 9 May 2013
Format:Paperback
A friend gave me this book, because she loved it and thought I might do so too. She was right. I usually go for plot-driven novels and fly through them, but this book is different, I just had to read it slowly, savouring every paragraph, not wanting it to end.
As I live in Wales myself, I was initially frustrated by the fact that he never tells you where he is/was exactly, even though I knew he wanted to keep it private and secret. I would also have loved some drawings or photos of the wildlife, landscapes or bits of the house, but then again, his words create the pictures, so I'm not complaining.
I'm not a bird-watcher as such but did not find his accounts of encounters with various birds boring at all. In fact, I think he may have made a fledgling bird-watcher of me: I seem to be scanning the sky for hawks rather often now.
A magical, beautifully written book that slows you down and opens your eyes and mind.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 30 April 2011
Format:Hardcover
Having seen this book reviewed in The Guardian and then mentioned on Caught By The River, I knew it was a must-read. Beautifully evocative descriptions of the countryside, and in particular the wildlife, in the Welsh hills. This is a wildlife book - if from some of the reviews you're expecting a book about living remotely, as the author admits, he soon disappears from his narrative himself, to find himself writing about the wildlife that surrounds (and even lives within) the cottage. So don't expect a "lifestyle" book about rural living; this is nature writing, about the flora and fauna and within that, mostly about the birds that he comes to recognise around him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The great escape we all dream of 8 Jan 2013
By Roy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A really enjoyable read which feeds your dream of getting away from the hell of other people. A retreat from the cares of everyday life which is a real tonic.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Country - A Review by Barry Van-Asten 18 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Deep Country is the story of how Neil Ansell undertook a personal adventure to live alone in a remote cottage in the Welsh hills for five years. It is a fascinating tale of how he coped without gas, electricity or plumbing and how he became accustomed to the seasons and how his awareness became heightened to the changes around him. His observations of wildlife; the rituals of the woodland and the rhythms of the fields are wonderful descriptions of how beautiful the British countryside really is! Neil becomes engrossed by the daily activities of the birds he sees, such as the curlews, red kites, sparrowhawks and ravens; he becomes attached to the wanderings of the animals that live nearby, like the badgers and the hares, and even to the colony of bats in his roof space!
This magical and evocative book is a remarkable journey of a man who gradually becomes more and more at home with the woodland creatures and hardships of living alone with nature. Definitely essential reading!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book.
This book is one of my 'keep for all time' books, it's so beautifully written and calming. I'm never happier than when I'm out and about walking and at one with nature so for me... Read more
Published 1 month ago by S. Butterworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Remote
Very well written story of life on a remote mountain in Mid Wales. Interesting and amusing. A very good read
Published 2 months ago by Cilla Lamerton
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep country:five years in the Welsh hills
Excellent read,I was able to relate to the book and became part of the storyline the more I read,well worth a read
Published 4 months ago by nicholas eames
3.0 out of 5 stars Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills
I bought this book as a birthday gift for a friend who loves local wildlife and who found it interesting.
Published 5 months ago by hobbygirl 2010
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but too manybirds
I hoped it would have more on life in the wilds. Very good if you are really into birds and birdwatching.
Published 7 months ago by Henry Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Rural life.
Great book and for someone who, like me , lives in rural Wales a very interesting one too.Very well worth buying.
Published 8 months ago by A., R. Worrall
5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring a longing to be so much at one with one's environment
I read this book in conjunction with Clyde Holmes' "Featherpaths", a book of bird poems. Both express this oneness with nature, transcending beyond object and observer to a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by A. B. Charpentier
1.0 out of 5 stars poor
Not what I had in mind. A poor book with lots of repeating situations for padding. I was looking for 'I Bought a Mountain' but it must be out of print.
Published 16 months ago by Gordon Milne
4.0 out of 5 stars Life among the birds
Well written account of life in deep country. Of great appeal to those who love wildlife, especially birdlife. Really a nature diary
Published 18 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars five years in the welsh hills.
an excellent read describing life in the remote hills over a five year period of time,great descriptive details about this type of life and the surroundings etc the story almost... Read more
Published 18 months ago by sharon jones
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