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on 28 November 2017
I've just completed a reading of this book for the second time, as I had returned to it after having read the author's 'The Old Ways and 'Landmarks'. For me 'The Wild Places' remains Macfarlane's best work and perhaps I prefer it to the other books I mention because it has a certain simplicity and is certainly less 'wordy' than the other titles I mention. The authors journeys to wild places in Britain and Ireland are beautifully described, as are the effects each have upon him, and it is wonderful to progress through the pages and note the changes in perception he has of what 'wild' really is. You really do feel that this change of perception was brought about by the author's human relationships and the relationship with his surroundings and that it wasn't just an additional after thought to add interest to the book. Details of the author's relationship and regard for the late Roger Deakin added much to the book, not least poignancy. The book deals with humankind's negative effects upon the planet, but nevertheless I finished the book feeling positive. A great work which is thought
provoking, inspiring and a damn good read.
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on 1 May 2015
If you live and work in a town or city, I think that it would be easy to become engulfed in the cyclical nature of work and home, opening and closing the bedroom curtains every day, and gazing out on an urban landscape.
To be balanced about this, if you live and work in the countryside, a similar pattern would emerge, beginning and ending every day with the first and last view being of a rural landscape.
But what about those who experience a mixture of the two?
I realised a few years ago that everywhere that I had lived from a child until now, although living in/on the edges of a town, I had always had a view of trees or hills or fields from my bedroom window. I might have lived and work (or gone to school) in a town, but the countryside was always a short walk away. I also realised that my parents individually/jointly had a similar experience when I thought back to where they had lived in their lifetimes.
In his book, Robert McFarlane feels drawn to travel from his urban home in Cambridgeshire to a selection of diverse rural environments of increasing challenge/contrast - hence "The Wild Places".
His experiences and reflections/connections made me think further about my relationship, reconciling urban living with a hankering for more remote rural environments, and whether this might be more than a random preference on my part.
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on 6 October 2016
As I finished this excellent book, I had one overwhelming feeling, envy!
I envied the author for going to places I can only dream of now that I am growing old. I evidence him for his ability to explore these wonderful places so completely, man ability that would always have been beyond me. I envy him his wonderful knowledge of so many things, both in the natural and literary worlds. But most of all I envy him his wonderful skill at writing about all these things and weaving them into this fascinating tale of the wild places in the British Isles. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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on 3 January 2018
Lace up your boots before reading this book. Robert Macfarlane goes beyond mere description of Britain’s wildest places. He takes you to each, inviting you to experience outdoor sleeping on desolate mountain tops, near cliff edges and for one night, even on the ice of a frozen tarn. We climb trees with him, study the spectacular wildflowers in the Burren’s limestone pavements, trudge along East Anglian salt-marshes and discover deep wilderness in the most surprising places.
Macfarlane writes in a comfortable, accessible style. Every paragraph is packed with fascinating information, not just on nature, geology and geography but about historic figures, other nature writers and personal friends. In particular he describes his friendship with the incomparable country writer Roger Deakin – author of Wildwood and Waterlogged.
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on 1 June 2016
MacFarlane's prose has the same intricacy as the landscapes he describes. He is as focused on the detail written into the grain of a pebble as he is on the form of a mountain peak. MacFarlane travels far and while over Britain and Ireland to bring us a series of landscape essays and frequently refers back to previous chapters to highlight subtle connections which link places together. He explores how wild places can be found in less obvious locations; often close to home in towns or cities or on the smallest of scales. My only criticism of MacFarlane is he sometimes over-writes. A narrative of a walk will be flowing in beautiful prose and you're there with him. But suddenly, he will take a divergent path onto some other topic. It's not just for a sentence or three to add context, but page after page until you've forgotten the narrative of his walk. Usually this is to add context or reference but for me it gives a staccato feel to his writting and can (for me at least) be a little frustrating. Often too he uses words which he knows are not in common parlance. Perhaps he thinks these provide more accurate vocabulary but I sense there's a small part of him which wants to sound clever. Clever he is though, and the way he weaves his words sets him apart from many writers within this genre. Above all, he writes about what I care about and I feel he's inside my head reading my thoughts. I want to sit aloft in the beech tree with him and share with him that sense of wonderment of this island we call home and gaze out and wonder.
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on 17 August 2012
I stumbled on this book by accident when it was offered as a 'Kindle daily deal': as a fan of Bruce Chatwin and Benedict Allen I thought it sounded interesting, given that the 'wild places' Macfarlane was describing were more domestic than exotic. I wasn't expecting it to challenge, stimuate and change my way of looking at things quite so radically as it did.

Macfarlane's prose is as smooth and seductive as a gentle summer breeze and he manages to evoke a description of the wild places he visits so that they come alive on the page. But perhaps most significantly, he challenges the traditional concept of 'wildness' making us realise that we do not necessarily have to tramp Rannock Moor or spend a night out on Orford Ness to know what wildness is. The book traces a journey in both a physical and metaphorical sense and when I finished it I felt as if I had taken a journey too.

I now intend to buy a paperback copy for myself - I need it on my shelf - and it's going to be a Christmas gift for several of my friends this year. Cannot wait to read his other books. If only all impulse purchases were this good!
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on 8 February 2013
This is an interesting ramble through some of the remoter, wild places that are to be found all over Britain.I found it entertaining but at times repetitive and monotonous, not as enthralling or colourful as his previous work. Macfarlane seems to be trying to find himself throughout the medium of wilderness and while he succeeds in part, for any reader who knows some of the wilder places on our planet or indeed on our doorsteps, this may perhaps seem a little tame. Maybe this book will appeal more to the vast majority of British people who now live their entire lives in metropolitan environments, but it is not so appealing or profound for those who are true countrymen or whose leisure time is spent exploring the more solitary parts of our exquisite country.
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VINE VOICEon 7 January 2014
This is a fascinating story of a journey around the wild places of Britain. The author starts off looking for wilderness but eventually settles for wild. He comes to realise that wildness can be found in small sizes as well as the big spaces. That wildness is as much an attitude as a state. It has inspired me to take a closer look at some of the local wild areas, the nearby estuary and forests, even my local 'country park' when you get off the well worn footpaths. Thought provoking and inspiring, what more can you ask?
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on 16 September 2015
If you dream of getting away from it all to the wildest parts of our beautiful islands then read Roberts book "The Wild Places". His writing is so clear and fresh that you can almost feel the wind on your face, smell the flora and hear the song of the birds around you. It almost feels like you are walking with him. I read this while travelling to and from work each day and I so wanted to get off at the next stop and walk into the hills and sleep under the stars or miss my stop and continue my journey to the Welsh coast and bathe in the sea. Robert brings the landscapes he travels through alive with their history and folklore and takes you through his own personal journey of discovery as he does so. The Wild Places is a really well written book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves being out in our spectacular countryside. When I'm in need to go for a long walk but can't I'm going to read a chapter of this book.
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on 13 May 2015
This took me a while to get through, but I was on a holiday in India at the time with disparate people....whom I could not connect to...and would drop into this book, and it was solace and peace to my rattled soul...he loves the Wild Places...heather, peat hags, mountain tops, rocks, snow hares..and so do I. He managed to write of these places in a magic way...I don't know how he does it, as it is never boring..he does sleep under rocks with water dripping onto him from above, or in a hollow in a grassy bank. I like the way he makes these experiences totally normal, what we might all do............and don't, bringing us into the sphere of nature and natural ways.
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