42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Enchanting at times,
This review is from: The Wild Places (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed Macfarlane's previous book "Mountains of the Mind" in which he explored the cultural and social view of mountains and highlands, how our perceptions towards wild lands has changed over time.
Therefore, I was pleased to find a signed copy of his latest book "The Wild Places" in a local bookshop. He travels the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland in search of wilderness. In such over-crowded islands, is he able to find something which most would consider as wilderness? His travels take him from Scotland where he encounters what must be regarded as the classical view of wilderness - big landscapes far removed from population. He then discovers during his travel through the Burren in western Ireland and along the holloways of Dorset that wilderness exists much closer than he previously considered, that humans are as much a part of wilderness as the landscapes themselves and the animals and plants that live there.
One trip seemed to trouble him greatly; he decided to sleep at the summit of Ben Hope during winter, but having found true wilderness in the chill and remoteness of the summit he found himself retreating in defeat back towards the comfort of other people.
While his travels are admirable and purposeful, I couldn't help feel that he wouldn't cut it amongst real explorers to real wild places - if being frightened off Ben Hope then how would he cope surviving in somewhere truly remote like the Arctic? There was also the disappointment that he reached many locations by car - in this regard it could be argued that by reaching the locations so easily and for such short periods of time his experiences only had the surface appearance of tourist trips.
However, these niggles aside, I would still recommend the book and it's good to see someone writing in a literate style about our wild places and peoples' place in the landscape.