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A Year in the Woods: The Diary of a Forest Ranger [Paperback]

Colin Elford
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 7.16 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

Colin Elford's A Year in the Woods is an enthralling journey into the heart of the English countryside.

With a preamble by Craig Taylor.

Colin Elford spends his days alone - alone but for the deer, the squirrels, the rabbits, the birds, and the many other creatures inhabiting the woods.

From the crisp cold of January, through the promise of spring and the heat of summer, and then into damp autumn and the chill winds of winter, we accompany the forest-ranger as he goes about his work - stalking in the early morning darkness, putting an injured fallow buck out of its misery, watching stoats kill a hare, observing owls, and simply being a part of the outdoors.

'This is nature for real . . . Elford describes woodland wonders in short paragraphs of luminous intensity' Daily Mail

'A poetic insight in the world of hidden Nature' Countryman

'Stalking sharpens the senses and there is an almost hallucinatory clarity to Elford's writing' Observer

'Refreshingly unsentimental. Contains some wonderful descriptions and sentences which are so profound they demand a second reading' Sunday Express

Colin Elford is a forest ranger on the Dorset/Wiltshire border.

Craig Taylor is the author of Return to Akenfield and One Million Tiny Plays About Britain and the editor of the magazine Five Dials.


Frequently Bought Together

A Year in the Woods: The Diary of a Forest Ranger + Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills + Notes from Walnut Tree Farm
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141043180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141043180
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 256,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Colin Elford is a forest ranger on the Dorset/Wiltshire border. The manuscript version of his diary found its way to Hamish Hamilton via his neighbour, the angling writer Chris Yates.

Craig Taylor is the author of Return to Akenfield and One Million Tiny Plays About Britain and the editor of the magazine Five Dials.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A walk in a different wood 27 Mar 2010
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think this book could prove to be a bit of a challenge to some people. Not because of its generally clear cut style and matter of fact approach. Not because of its simple chronological style, or its occasional lapses into purple prose. All of these things are central to a book written by a knowledgeable man who clearly has a deep and abiding fascination with the British countryside.

The key problem that some people may find is that the author kills things - kills them with regularity and kills them effectively. He also takes a pride in what he does, but also acknowledges regret. Deer, squirrels and rabbits are killed in the name of woodland management. The author, Colin Elford, is a woodland ranger and he is charged with the protection of his trees. As his trees thrive, so do many other plants and animal. But those animals which pose a threat are controlled. Elford sees himself has helping in the restoration of balance, in a land stripped of its large predators.

People who think of conservation as nothing more than benign neglect, or object to the killing of animals, may struggle with the way the author "drops" deer at regular intervals, and actively intervenes in the woodlands in his care. Those who see the need for management of habitats may not be troubled by this. Many people will sit somewhere between.

This book is a wonderful exploration of the countryside on the Dorset / Wiltshire boarder and without ever doing so explicitly highlights some of the various ways in which people can view the British countryside.

I dare say that the author has sense of connection with the people and practices that created a landscape. A landscape that many people hold dear and that has been under growing and intense pressure since the end of WWII.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature at its best 9 April 2010
Format:Hardcover
Colin Elfords book really is a treat to read,its absorbing,fascinating,dramatic and you can really lose yoursef in it and feel that you have spent hours in the woods.The descriptions and sentences are so profound they demand a second reading. He shares delicate,vivid details about birds,animals and even the weather. A year in the woods is in the form of a diary and follows Colins working life from January to December.I loved the fact you could read a bit and then come back to it later. The book has wonderful watercolour pictures dotted throughout the book. You can feel in the book Colin really enjoys his job and is very much in tune with the moods of the forests and has great RESPECT in everything he does.This is nature for real and a true honest account of a wildlife ranger.The only problem I had was that the book had to end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A year in the Woods 15 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback
What a great book, one of those that you have to carry with you everywhere and read at any moment you get, getting out of bed in the morning, going down stairs, making the breakfast, you get the idea. It just moves quietly through the seasons at their pace and it is just the right pace. You pick up so much of how life in the woods is. Both its compassion, and its brutality. Wonderfully written by a man who is passionate about his life. Thank you Colin Elford.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite nice, but too expensive 23 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Given that it comprises a series of very short and largely unconnected journal entries, it helps that this is quite a short book. The narrative, such as it is, is created by grouping the anecdotes into months and probably wouldn't sustain a longer version, but perhaps there are other reasons for its brevity. Elford doesn't seem to have very much to say and his anecdotes are mostly about stalking and shooting deer. The other tasks of a forest ranger appear marginal in his account, although perhaps this just means that deer-culling is mostly what forest rangers do. Elford writes well enough and his descriptions evoke something of the solitude of his work and of the delight he takes in living close to nature without becoming sentimental.

Looking at this as a rounded package, I have to comment on the fairly steep price for what my Kindle reports as a 167-page book, not the 204 pages promised by its listing on Amazon. It also suffers the 'large font' glitch that seems to afflict about 20% of the Kindle books I have bought, which means the minor inconvenience of having to change the font size up and down when switching between this and other books. Aside from this, only the 'dessicated needles on bare ground' (p108) and Elford's wish to 'transverse an area [he] hardly frequent[s]' (p112) speak of the woeful standard of proofing I have come to expect of Kindle books. At the time of writing the Kindle version is, by the way, almost a pound more expensive than the paperback.

In summary, a fairly engaging read that would be reasonable value at half the price.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply satisfying read for country lovers 6 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover
I read this book whilst on holiday in Iceland where there are no woods. The beautiful descriptions of wildlife in the woods reminded me how absorbing woodland walks can be if you keep your ears and eyes open and wait a while in silence. Reading this book is like sitting beside Colin in a high seat seeing wildlife events through his knowledgeable and experienced eyes, such is the feeling behind the writing. Colin clearly loves the countryside and this book is a wonderful opportunity to share his passion from your armchair.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and refreshing
A lovely read over the winter, just a shame it wasn't twice the length! A collection of wanderings, you can dip in and out, as they are observations rather than a narrative. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mojo
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I had hoped.
Colin Elford writes beautifully about the changing seasons in the forest and places great worth on sensory descriptions - which is a winning combination for transporting the reader... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lotta
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic.
An absolute classic - completely free of the eco-pretentious, insipid, "I'm a nature person and you're not" writing that's out there. One for the Desert Island.
Published 9 months ago by P E CHRISTIE
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Bought for my hubby birthday .... hes read a few like it about the river so I knew he would love this one also. Delivery was great and good price.
Published 13 months ago by Justine Evans Pitt
3.0 out of 5 stars Woodlands and Wildlife
This book is a neat size and nicely presented. It follows forest-ranger, Colin Elford, over the course of a year and he describes different aspects of his job and what happens in... Read more
Published 15 months ago by C. Colley
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book, a great read for all wildlife lovers.
A great and easy read, felt as if I too was in the forest alongside the ranger. Fantastic for wildlife lovers.
Published 17 months ago by Jared Cleary
3.0 out of 5 stars folksy stuff
Bought for a gift. I believe it has not YET been handed on to a charity-shop, so it must be of some interest to the receiver.
Published on 27 Feb 2012 by cavelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Interesting insight into the life of a forestry worker.
I enjoyed this book. The diary style takes a bit of getting used to as some days are covered in a few short lines, but the longer passages make up for it. Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2011 by Mr. M. Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars A Year in the Woods, A Diary of a forest ranger
A very expressive and extremely well written book, by someone who really understands what it is like to get close to understanding our flora and fauna.Brilliant!!!!
Published on 8 Feb 2011 by Mrs. Marie E. Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Ah, nature's beauty! (BANG! sound of deer thudding)
I bought this whilst on summer holidays in Somerset, at tea-rooms just down the road from our cottage. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2011 by Sebastian Palmer
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