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From Mountain to Meadow: A Selection of Great Nature Writing

Posted on 15th June 2021 by Mark Skinner

From classics by J.A. Baker and Nan Shepherd to modern favourites from Dara McAnulty and Anita Sethi, let the written word transport you to the most breathtaking corners of this land with our hand-picked selection of the finest nature writing.   

 
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Bringing together diverse and luminous passages from the finest British and Irish nature writing, The Wild Isles is a celebration of the endless variety of landscapes, seasons, plants and animals of these islands.
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Delightfully idiosyncratic and entertaining, Rackham’s ramble through the centuries of rural Britain captures changes both sweeping and minute with a wonderful mix of scholarship and accessibility.
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The teenage star of BBC’s Countryfile and social media sensation, Dara McAnulty opens up about his autism and its interrelation to his love of the natural world, as well as providing fascinating practical advice and knowledge about British wildlife.
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Written with breathtaking candour, Packham’s deeply affecting memoir of a lonely childhood given purpose and meaning by an intensely close bond with the natural world pushes the boundaries of what great nature writing can achieve.
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Poet Kathleen Jamie renders the natural world in lyrical brush strokes as she recounts numerous encounters with creatures from peregrines to whales around the coast of her native Scotland.
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A seminal blend of nature writing, travelogue and cultural history, Deakin’s account of his swimming odyssey through the British Isles stands as one of the great reflections on the British people’s relationship to their environment.
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In this beautiful meditation on reconnecting with the natural world, novelist, Times columnist and former Londoner Melissa Harrison charts her journey from city-dweller to star-gazing resident of rural Suffolk.
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Effortlessly merging memoir, environmental activism and beautifully descriptive nature writing, McCarthy’s glorious book is a manifesto for considered conservation and unbridled enjoyment of the natural world.
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The award-winning author behind Landmarks, The Lost Words and The Old Ways returns to consider that truly hidden ocean of our landscape: the secrets beneath our feet.
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At once lyrical and political, gentle and angry, Rebanks' rural memoir is a rounded account of shepherding in the twenty-first century and a frank and engrossing dissection of a vanishing way of life.
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Bursting with lively anecdote and memorable characters, Amanda Owen’s journey to fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a shepherdess paints an evocative portrait of modern Yorkshire farming.
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Lyrical and thought-provoking, Native is a hymn to the ancient rural heritage of Galloway – to the vanishing landscape, as well as the customs and values that are in danger of disappearing along with it.
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Tracking the histories of four fields across three continents, Dee crafts a lucid, richly atmospheric work that asks searching questions about humanity’s interference with nature for both good and ill.
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One of the country’s most perceptive nature writers recounts in delicious detail the rich variety of flora and fauna found in the Norfolk village of Claxton, Cocker’s idyllic home since 2001.
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In a profound reflection on the interconnectedness of memory, language and natural history, Burnett explores her father’s home region, the West Country, and the relationship between a place and the people inhabiting it.
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A celebration of community, perseverance and a sense of belonging, Dark, Salt, Clear is a meditation on the soul of a Cornish fishing town in the face of encroaching globalisation.
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An audacious comingling of genres that reinvigorated the nature writing field, H is for Hawk recounts a year in the author’s life as she comes to terms with the loss of her father and trains a young goshawk.
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This gorgeously presented fiftieth anniversary edition of a touchstone of British nature writing – boasting an afterword by Robert Macfarlane - describes Baker’s astute and intelligent observations of peregrines hunting in the desolate landscape of the Essex marshes.
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Life, family and the echoes of generations examined through the prism of a love affair with birds, in this breathtakingly assured memoir.
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The full story of seabirds from one of the greatest nature writers, this book looks at the pattern of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face and the passions they inspire, accompanied by beautiful illustrations by artist Kate Boxer.
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Emphasising the vital role insects play in our increasingly fragile ecosystem - as well as their curious habits and mating rituals - Extraordinary Insects unveils the world of miniscule creatures of magnificent consequence.
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Full of dry wit and fascinating information, Goulson’s infectiously enthusiastic book follows the author’s passionate quest to reintroduce the short-haired bumblebee to his native Kent.
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One of the true classics of British nature writing, Ring of Bright Water chronicles Maxwell’s youth on the West coast of Scotland and the trio of otters that became integral to his sense of home and community.
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This fascinating, eccentric and truly unique mash-up of nature writing and neuroscience finds Foster living as a succession of creatures for weeks at a time in order to try and fully understand the psychology of other species.
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The author of The Butterfly Isles investigates the nocturnal world of the badger, meeting farmers and scientists in an attempt to understand this enigmatic creature, as well as ruminating on the politicisation of the animal and its emotive mass culling.
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For Raynor Winn and her husband Moth, the cruellest of diagnoses and the simultaneous collapse of their business opens an unexpected door to salvation through a journey which over its length transforms into a sweeping narrative of inner courage and nature’s ability to heal.
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The father of modern nature writing describes his descent into depression and subsequent salvation through connection with the British landscape, in a work which pioneered the sub-genre of therapeutic nature literature.
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A brilliantly accomplished mix of powerful memoir and revelatory nature writing, Sethi’s account of finding solace in the Northern countryside following a traumatic racial attack is a defiant act of reclamation and an astonishing piece of testimony.
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A thoroughly beguiling combination of history and nature writing, Lewis-Stempel’s profoundly moving book details First World War soldiers’ relationships with the nature of the trenches and how hobbies such as birdwatching, eel fishing and flower planting helped to lift morale and preserve memories of home.
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A powerful and inspirational read, Liptrot’s award-winning volume is both confessional memoir of recovery from addiction and sublime meditation on the therapeutic qualities of time spent immersed in the wilds of nature.
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A sensuous celebration of all the evocative joys that winter brings, The Light in the Dark encourages readers to look outward to the sublimity of nature rather than inward into the introspective soul.
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Curated with care and intelligence, the fourteen essays within In the Garden ask profound questions about the nature of gardening and the connections and resonances of horticulture in both cultural and environmental life.
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Full of warmth and affection, the nation’s favourite gardener's touching meditation on our relationship with the natural world.
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Drawing on cutting-edge research, Wohlleben sets out the argument for the forest being a social network and trees possessing similar qualities to the human family, in a jaw-dropping, thoroughly entertaining work that will change the way you view all things arboreal.
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Blurring the boundaries between nature writing and imaginative fiction, Maitland’s sublime tribute to the interconnected power of forests and fairy tales is a lyrical, evocative treat not to be missed.
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Blooming beautifully into life on every page, Vincent’s uplifting memoir-cum-botanical guide documents the author’s attempts to bring a little of her grandfather’s horticultural idyll into her fast-paced urban existence.
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When Tree and her husband gave their clay farmland back to nature it kickstarted an experiment in ecological innovation and a personal journey into the realities of farming in the 21st century, and Wilding soars with passion, enthusiasm and an undying faith in the virtues of conservation.
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Nothing less than a manifesto for the future of the planet, Monbiot’s radical entreaty to repair and rewild our damaged ecosystem sets forth a bold, persuasive course for humanity’s salvation.
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From the author of The Meaning of Birds, Rewild Yourself introduces 23 mesmerising ways to find a deeper connection with the natural world, regardless of where we live.
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Written during the Second World War, The Living Mountain describes the incredible journeys Shepherd made into the regal Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland in a powerful meditation on the solace and strength to be found in the wilderness.
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Both a poignant memoir of grief and redemption and a gloriously evocative account of mountain climbing in the Scottish Highlands, Sarah Jane Douglas’s exquisitely written volume is a truly inspirational read.
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