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Silt Road: The Story of a Lost River Hardcover – 4 Apr 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition edition (4 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701186437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701186432
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Rangeley-Wilson was born in Lusaka and studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School, Oxford. He taught Art for a decade before switching tracks and becoming a writer and photographer.

He writes regularly for The Field and Grays Sporting Journal and has had work published in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent. In 2000 he won the Periodical Publishers Association 'feature writer of the year' award for his work in The Field.

Charles is the author of two books on fishing and travel, Somewhere Else 2004 and The Accidental Angler 2006. Both titles were very well received by critics and readers. In 2009 Charles wrote and presented a critically acclaimed BBC film on the Japanese cultural relationship with fish and fishing entitled Fish! A Japanese Obsession.

Recently he has been finishing a memoir and history book about the evolution of the English landscape: Silt Road - The Story of a Lost River.

Charles is a passionate conservationist. He founded the active conservation charity The Wild Trout Trust and is now its president. He works with WWF UK on their UK freshwater projects including Rivers on the Edge. Most recently he helped to establish the Norfolk Rivers Trust and authored that trust's first holistic catchment restoration plan for the River Nar.

www.charlesrangeleywilson.com

Product Description

Review

"A rich dowsing-out of a lost river and its stories; a passionate pursuit of landscape ghosts." (Robert MacFarlane)

"A work of extraordinary power and resonance" (Melissa Harrison Financial Times)

"Passionate, persuasive and personal…it is an elegy to a fascinating world of which many of us have lost sight" (Anthony Sattin Sunday Times)

"Superb book… Its story is an acute example of the criminal disregard our nation has had for these remarkable rivers" (Mark Lloyd BBC Countryfile)

"Silt Road is that rare ting: a book that is able to marry exacting research with imaginative fluency, told in language as pliant and revealing as water" (Earthlines)

Book Description

The story of an obsession: Charles Rangeley-Wilson goes on a quest to find a hidden river, uncovers our vanished wilderness and the history of an English landscape lost from view

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Theo on 7 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
A lot of outdoor writing is all about the idyll. But for Charles Rangeley-Wilson this idyll is exactly the opposite: a once-perfect little chalk stream that rises in the Chilterns just west of High Wycombe and gets swallowed up by brutal ribbon conurbation long before it joins the Thames at Bourne End.

Loosely structured as a personal diary of repeated pilgrimages through the valley of the Wye, the diary's inner and outer landscapes reflect and reveal each other. The story of how humans came to bury this river is one that builds in evocative, fascinating "concentric rings of growth" like the industrial heartland and housing estates of High Wycombe itself.

It's not all about Wycombe, however. Much in the manner of WG Sebald, a wide range of black and white illustrations are carefully placed within the narrative, and sidelights include dream sequences, geological stratigraphy, the workings of water meadows on the Herefordshire Dore, Sir Francis Dashwood and the Hell-Fire Club, Luddite rebellions, sacred springs, how trout got to Australasia, and the toxic rivers of the underworld.

The cumulative effect is powerful and haunting: a work of literature which invites us to ask ourselves searching questions about the sort of landscapes we've created and now, sometimes, have the opportunity to restore. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Osborne on 14 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Funnily enough I spotted this book in a bookshop in the Eden Centre High Wycombe - literally a hundred yards from the scene of it's core theme. Why did the River Wye disappear from the built-up area of High Wycombe?

The simple answer (not mentioned in the book) is that at the time the river was buried the Oxford Road, that ran alongside it was literally that: 'The road to Oxford' and the amount of traffic needed a pragmatic solution. It's interesting also that the replacement M40 flyover at Loudwater and the devastation it caused to the river is another main focus. So perhaps you can say it was Oxford's fault the river was buried and trashed in High Wycombe!

But the book's not really about that superficial layer. The Wye river at High Wycombe is just an anchor to meditate on 'natural' time beyond the yearly cycle that we are consciously engaged with (super-year time I suppose you could call it) and the relationship between the human and natural worlds. The human world is represented by the town of High Wycombe and its written history, and the natural world represented by the river and Charles' totemic trout whose home it is.

It's a mundane position in the scheme of things but the book makes you see the interface between these two worlds here as an exemplar of a wider balance/fault-line/battle/relationship between the human and natural worlds and also contextualises it with the long natural history that brought it about in that place and time . It just so happens its in the physical form of the River Wye in this case because he's spotted something essential going on there.

This book brought out themes that I hadn't thought about much before. It has definitely changed my outlook, and for the better I hope.

I recommend this book. Just flow through it like a trout in a chalk river and see how different and energized you feel at the end.
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By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about the loss of a river to a landscape and its people.

The River Wye is a small chalk stream that slides through an equally small part of England. This book follows the river from its source in porous chalk to its eventual disappearance in the concrete culverts of High Wycombe.

Chalk streams are (possibly) the epitome of the southern English countryside – slight, small, managed rather wild, but still holding a vision of something larger and more grand.

This is a book that is “haunted by rivers” as Norman Maclean may have said – for while the river still exists today in some form it is the old river - the one that was lost – that dominates the book. The physical loss of the river and the lost industry that it once supported are the central planks of the book.

We meet chair makers, millers, trout fisherman and trout themselves – all of which needed the river and most of which have been lost.

In a history of one small place, I think the author is trying to write a story that has wider application, and in many ways he succeeds. The story of this lost river is matched in the loss of natural places world wide – when a place is no longer valued or understood, it is easier to let it be lost. And to make sure such places are protected they need to be valued; while clearly not an original idea, this book contributes to the idea that we need to reconnect to the landscape around us to ensure its survival. Landscape is not something that can be viewed in the same way museum pieces can be – it needs to be lived, experienced.

However, the book does seem always seem to flow comfortably from page to page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Pegrum on 15 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very quirky way to tell the story of our local river, it runs at the bottom of our garden.
Would think of interest to anyone fascinted by the way water works...literally! And a sub
story too.......!
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