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

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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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: 12.9 x 1.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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5 Comments 67 of 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful book, it's just a shame that it only lasted for the 12 months of one year.
I tried to eek-out this enjoyable insight into a countryman's work by only reading "one month's recordings" each day - but this proved too difficult and I finished it within the week.
A splended read, which i know I will return to time again
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who has a similar job to the author it was wonderful to find a book which so articulates my own job/life and attitudes to wildlife which must be baffling to many of our urban friends who don't see how you can kill things as part of your work yet still feel passionately about them and care so much (why our house is often host to orphaned or injured birds and animals) . If you struggle with the fact that quick clean killing is part of a necessity of the cycle in the countryside, then in many ways this book is all the more must read, because you will soon see from Mr Elford's love of wildlife and animals that there need not be a contradiction, and he explains why some things are necessary, and how careful professionals are to ensure things are done humanely, (in fact compared to meat you'll buy of the shop shelf, this is *far* more humanely done). But this is not a book about sport shooting or social groups shooting pheasants etc. it is about a job which is also a philosophy and lifestyle. Running all through the book is also the changing year of plants, weather and wildlife which urban life has taken most people away from, and it's impossible not to get drawn into the authors love of it all. One of the nicest book I have read in a long time, and on a personal level, my particular thanks to the author for articulating an ethos I've always found hard to explain to people.
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