The wind was rising, so I went to the wood.
–Robert Macfarlane - The wild places - c.2007
In this book Robert Macfarlane sets out to find the wild places of Britain and Ireland, if there are any left. He believes that somewhere on these islands there must be places far from the reach of humanity where the wilderness still exists, and he sets out to discover them, to create a word map of them.
He heads first to Wales and the island of Ynys Enlli. There, and in other places, he finds that fierce wild places do still remain. Small, isolated maybe, but they are there. But more than that, he also comes to the realisation that places do not have to be removed from people in order to be wild, that a wilderness can exist side by side with the tarmac and the building.
In many ways this is a book about finding the wild in the everyday, although Macfarlane’s journeys certainly aren’t of the everyday sort. At least not to me, but part of me would love to do that, just head off walking all day, sleeping when darkness descends. But at the very least this book inspired me to go for a walk today despite the rain and the wind. After all, I had somewhere warm and dry, and clothes to change into, why not get rained on every now and then. It is a temporary inconvenience and really not that bad.
But this is more than a book about walking, it is about seeing the world. Taking the time to appreciate what is going on all around you. And realising that life, in all its forms, is always going on. You just have to have the inclination to pay attention.
It is also wonderfully written. Beautiful to read. I’ll be reading more by Macfarlane.