on 18 June 2013
This is a book which should appeal to a wide range of people who love walking and the wild places of Britain. The lines of Philip Hughes' drawing and paintings are elegant in their simplicity. The pictures of the sketches in his notebooks show a real 'feel' for the landscapes which he is drawing, with their 'Percy Kelly like' notes. His pictures are not photographic, or 'picture postcard' views, but the sense of place is strong. This is not a book where you need to read the words, there are not many words. The pictures and his choice of palette speak volumes. Each section portrays a different walk. From the Orkneys and Rannoch Moor to Cornwall and the South Downs Way via Hadrian's Wall and the Three Peaks, Hughes gives a brief commentary on the walk and a map of a section of it. The paintings are interspersed with notes that he made at the time. For instance he made notes at Stonehenge in 1991, 2008 and 2011. In 2008 he almost shared a shelter with a hare, then on his return, in 2011 he found a dead hare, hoping that this was not the same hare. He is not saying "Follow me". This is not a Guidebook. In fact he laments that the simplicity of Skara Brae, in 1985, has been consumed by a Visitors'Centre. It's as if he is showing us places that he would rather we would not visit! But, at the end of each piece, you know vey well that this is a place that you MUST experience. On another level he is saying, to us amateur painters, those who love the countryside, rather just want subjects for pictures, "Here is another way to look at landscape. Try it. Feel it" At times you can almost feel the cold of his fingers as he draws an exposed mountain or the wind in his hair as he paints the isolated upland stone wall. A thoroughly commended read.