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A Year in the Woods: The Diary of a Forest Ranger Paperback – 4 Aug 2011

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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: 13.1 x 1.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Stewart M TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Mar. 2010
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Thomas on 5 April 2015
Format: Paperback
Colin Elford presented us with something of a paradox when he published this book. Like other reviewers I was initially dismayed by his role in culling deer. As something of a pantheist myself, I have deep reservations about the right that we assume in killing other species. And this is really where the paradox comes in. Elford is described in the introduction as a forest ranger, and he himself explains that this is a job he loves. There is certainly no doubt that he loves the landscape in which he works and that he is deeply connected to nature. The lucid prose with which he describes his experiences is engaging if at times a little brief. (Some of his descriptions leave one hungry for more detail). But all the time, there is this nagging issue of the killing of deer. In fact, only a minority of pages in the book contain NO reference to shooting (squirrels as well as deer). But here is the paradox. Elford still comes across as a sensitive and caring man. He loves nature at the same time as he accepts that he has to destroy it. Now normally, this could be too difficult a contradiction to cope with. But Elford is thoughtful, and in his quiet, reflective manner, he explains that while he delights in the clean efficiency with which he shoots a deer, he regrets having to do it. He points out that if man hadn't destroyed the animals that predated on the deer, thus keeping their numbers in balance, there would be less justification for culling them. It is a reasonable argument, though the fact that the young trees they damage have to be protected because they are regarded as a financial asset begs other questions. Elford also states his dislike of game shooting, and trophy hunters, which helps bring us closer to his complex philosophical viewpoint.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. J. L. Alley on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dale Filing on 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By nature at its best on 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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