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The Wild Places

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,189 ratings  ·  149 reviews
The Wild Places is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath, to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Es ...more
Kindle Edition, 356 pages
Published by Granta (first published 2007)
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This review originally appeared on my blog, Shoulda Coulda Woulda Books.

“When I woke in the corrie above Doo Lough that night, at some point in the small hours, the cloud had passed away, and the moon was pouring its light down on to the valley. I was thirsty, so I took my metal cup and walked to the side of the corrie and held the cup beneath the spill of one of the waterfalls. The water hit the tin and set it ringing like a bell. I drank and looked down over the dark valley. The shadows of th
Carol Smith
Simply lovely. A beautiful, lyrical meditation on wildness and whether or not wild places still exist in the U.K. The themes that flow through MacFarlane’s writing – friendship, life, death, the past, present and future of our species and our relationship with our surroundings – feel like a layered extension of the landscapes he observes so keenly. They ebb and flow through the chapters as much (and in much the same way) as the weather, seasons, water, and migrating birds he describes. He refere ...more
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book - I'm not normally a big fan of nature books or TV programmes - more my husband's area of interest. In fact I had bought this book for him to read, but was intrigued by it and started reading it. Then I was gripped and didn't want to put it down!

It has made me think a lot about how we live our lives - often too busy to notice the world around us - always in the car rushing from place to place with no time just to sit and look, listen and absorb what we
I read that this is a classic, and I know why now. I was gratified to see it listed as a travel book, also, because it is. I've never wanted to travel to Britain as much as I do now. Macfarlane goes to natural places that are astounding. His writing is beautiful.

It took me longer than expected to read this, because I spent as much time in Google Earth as in the book. And that is my suggestion: a companion volume or new edition with photos and maps, with distances. I was trolling youtube, also, a
♥ Ibrahim ♥

The words sing and lyrically flow from such an eloquent writer that I am reading based on the recommendation of the Guardian newspaper. You read his prose and you take it all in and you are bound to get a lot from his descriptive, beautifully flowing writing. He has the capacity to capture with the camera of his own pen what no other camera in the world can easily capture or portray. I feel like I have been on a journey to the English wild and savored every minute with him. I plan to read every
his person has the urge to go and experience wild in person, and goes around the wild places in the UK his friends suggest and tells us things about them and himself. Interesting that he could do all this without disappearing into the jungle or something that a lot of other writers have to do.

Just a note here too - there seems to be a nature writing triangle I am reading, Robert McFarlane is a pal of the late Roger Deakin who both know Richard Mabey. They all seem to live in the same area too
Anneliese Tirry
Ik vind het mooi hoe hij zich tot doel stelt de laatste wildernissen van de UK te ontdekken, ons meeneemt naar die plekken, ons wat geschiedenis meegeeft, ons laat meegenieten en ons meeneemt in zijn ervaring.
Ik heb enorm genoten van het verhaal van de monniken die naar een onherbergzaam onbewoond eiland gaan om te gaan leven als heremieten. Ik voelde mij bedrukt bij het verhaal van the great famine in Ierland en hoe de laatste van het gezin die zou sterven op voorhand de deur toedeed.
Ik hou e
Kick-ass prose. Thoreausian perspective with Brit speak and a fair dose of eccentricity. Fueling my fire for roaming the wild places.
This book has been a journey. I've been reading it for years. Snatches, short chapters at a time. Looking up most of the places he explored, which took a good deal of time but added tremendously to the experience of the book. His writing is pure description written in as beatiful prose as you will find anywhere. I half regretted not using those little passage markers for my favorite descriptive spots, but realized the book would have been so full of them that it would have been fairly useless. M ...more
Essentially this book is a travelogue in which the author explores various parts of the UK that he considers to be "wild". The book is split into chapters, each one depicting a different type of locale - beach, mountain summit, forest, etc.

I'm not really au fait with the travelogue genre so I didn't know what to expect with this one, but I found it to be a charming read. MacFarlane has a genuine warmth and enthusiasm for his subject matter that readily transfers to the reader so that they're cau
There is a yearning in Robert Macfarlane, one that we've all experienced to one extent or another: to breathe in the air that's hanging above the most obscure corners of the world; to climb a tree and become part of the scene as it pulses and heaves with life. The wonderful thing about Macfarlane is that he doesn't travel to the farthest corners to do it: he attempts to discover the rich and wild life beating under his nose, and this book is an account of his travels around the British Isles, th ...more
A beautiful book, recounting the author’s journeys through some of Britain’s wild places, sometimes alone, and sometimes accompanied by one or two close friends who share his love of the wild. The language of the book is spell-binding, taking the reader on a parallel journey, weaving science and literature, knowledge and wonder. .

“From the bottom of the hill, I could hear the noise of the trees with the wind; a marine roar that grew in volume as I approached. Looking up at the swaying wood, I re
Paul Stevenson
Another excellent and inspirational book by Robert Macfarlane. Wading out to a tiny island to spend the night - what a great idea. This is just one of the author's many interesting adventures (one of the tamer ones) as he journeys - 'in an arc much like the hare' - around the UK exploring what the term wild place really means. I really like the way Macfarlane weaves a narrative, packed with facts and personal accounts, never superfluous. Beautiful.
"These were the markers, I realised of a process that was continuously at work throughout these island, and presumably throughout the world: the drawing of happiness from landscapes both large and small. Happiness, and the emotions that go by the collective nouns of 'happiness': hope, joy, wonder, grace, tranquillity, and others. Every day millions of people found themselves deepened and and dignified by their encounters with particular places" (236).

Full of set the book down and think moments l
Jeff Van Campen
I originally purchased The Wild Places a year and a half ago as a Kindle Daily Deal. I started reading it during my commute on a whim after I'd finished another book and was looking for something else to read. It quickly became clear that this was a book I'd need to read as a physical book.

Robert Macfarlane is an extraordinary writer. He manages to write very lyrical prose without going over the top. He writes take-your-breath-away sentences that enhance, rather than detract from, his more stra
Juliet Wilson
In this book Robert MacFarlane takes us on a tour of the British Isles looking for our remaining wild places. He starts by seeking out wildnerness, remote areas of wild weather and (relatively) untouched nature, camping on ice and mountain peaks.

He soon comes to realise though that wild places aren't just wilderness, but those areas where nature reclaims the land from humans:

That margins should be a redoubt of wildness, I knew, was proof of the devastation of the land: the extent to which natur
A great book. MacFarlane's exploration of the wild in Britain - from the truly wild - Scotland, Wales and islands, to what at first he admits feels like the more mundane in Englandshire, but how it itself demonstrates the wild. Eloquent, with some beautifully graceful pieces of writing, the chapters rolled by. Fair play to him too for sleeping out in what seems sometimes terrible weather - without any self aggrandisment, rather a factual note in his belief in this being an integral part of his e ...more
Claire Smith
I love Macfarlane's prose. It combines rich detail and vague, ephemeral thoughts and ideas into an intense journey that makes a very enjoyable read. While I wasn't as deeply moved by it as I think at first expected to be, because I have my own conceptions and personal preferences when it comes to the concept of 'wildness', I like how Macfarlane connected his journeys with overall themes and ideas.

That said, I did find it disjointed in places - and yes, that is how a book about a series of disco
Dead John Williams
The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane Ostensibly about his endeavour to find the wild places that still exist in the UK staring from Scotland and kind of working his way down to end up in Essex where I think the BBC made a TV program about him wandering through Essex discovering wonders of wildlife hidden in plain sight throughout the industrial wastelands.

Anyway, he is in Essex on the trail of J.A. Baker who wrote The Peregrine, one of my all time favourite non-fiction books. It is interesting t
I wish all nature writing were this good. He brings in historical detail effortlessly and recreates the various UK environments to the point that you feel you have visited them. There is a larger journey of understanding about the true essence of wildness that keeps him and the pace of the book going. What could easily have become a ramblimg series of descriptions, this book keeps your interest until the end and leaves you with hope for the future of the wild places.
Lisa Edwards
Another beautiful book of journeys from Robert Macfarlane, and if I'm not mistaken, he mentions a falconer friend called 'Helen' that must be Helen 'H is for Hawk' MacDonald. This book concerns itself with the remaining wilderness areas of the British Isles but more importantly, the ones that exist just a few steps from our doors.

As Macfarlane says: "It seemed to me that these nameless places might in fact be more important than the grander wild lands that for so many years had gripped my imagi
Rob Adey
A transporting exploration of what remains of Britain's wilderness. The language is astonishingly evocative, but never overwrought or overly romantic - there's a lot of geology, history, biology and so forth to ground it.

It's perfect reading for the tube, instantly banishing all the other humans' stupid faces.
Great idea, and I identify with the author's quest.It's quite poetic but he comes across as a bit patronising, maybe because he's used to talking to students? When I'm alone in wild and remote places I just feel totally overawed by the landscape - bu maybe that would make for a very full book!
Maria Longley
Much of our modern maps are based on the routes motor vehicles take, but there are other ways to map a counrty. Robert Marfarlane gives us a map of wilderness of Britain. Well, a partial one, as is the way of these things. We get to go along with him in search of wilderness sleeping outside in crazy places and seeing wondrous things. I don't know if I was that surprised by his conclusions, not that they aren't well worth saying, but I enjoyed the journies the most as they were full of the unexpe ...more
Chris Wright
Enjoyed it overall though found his writing a bit precious. I know a lot of the areas he visits and like his slant on their wildness. I will now go and read Roger Deakin as he is featured strongly in The Wild Places.
I loved immersing myself in MacFarlane's descriptions of the wild places he visited around Britain and Ireland, finding this book even more inspirational that the previous one of his I read, The Old Ways. While I don't think I'm personally up to sleeping out on iced over tarns, I would love to discover for myself some of the places he so eloquently describes.
My only real disappointment with this book, which may be more true in the Kindle version I read than for a paper version, is that the text
The Wild Places is about Robert Macfarlane's adventures exploring remote places in the UK. Many miles are covered on foot and nights are spend sleeping out in the wild. The book reads like a journal of Roberts experiences, filled in with detail about the land and nature around him. Written in such a way that you feel you are seeing what he is seeing with your own eyes.

There are some personal stories about friends and characters he meets along the way. For me, I would have liked a little more of
I had noticed while reading, and Macfarlane makes explicit in his concluding chapter, that he was impressed by the change in his perspective on what wild means - from remote, inhospitable, and ancient to vivacious, ubiquitous, and current, even tied to the future. This perspective comes naturally to me, so it was interesting to read of it as a revelation, but that also highlights its power: wild is process (an idea also developed by Gary Snyder), the truest expression of life.

Macfarlane draws se
Beautifully crafted poetic work on wilderness and it's intrinsic value to the human condition.
Second book of Robert MacFarlane for me and like the first it makes you feel like walking out the door of your house to discover. I liked most the idea about the Wilderness being not only far away in places hard to reach but also close to home, hidden but there, as a parallel universum. It only takes opening your door and looking for it. Very touching book, that makes you jealous of the author, but also gives you the idea that you can follow him for a part and do the same. All written in beautif ...more
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Nature Literature: The Wild Places Discussion 9 23 Nov 08, 2014 08:51AM  
A New Book For My 'Precious' List 1 13 Nov 02, 2011 03:01AM  
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Robert Macfarlane is a British travel writer and literary critic.

Educated at Nottingham High School, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford, he is currently a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge.
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“There is no mystery in this association of woods and otherworlds, for as anyone who has walked the woods knows, they are places of correspondence, of call and answer. Visual affinities of color, relief and texture abound. A fallen branch echoes the deltoid form of a streambed into which it has come to rest. Chrome yellow autumn elm leaves find their color rhyme in the eye-ring of the blackbird. Different aspects of the forest link unexpectedly with each other, and so it is that within the stories, different times and worlds can be joined.” 13 likes
“Our disenchantment of the night through artificial lighting may appear, if it is noticed at all, as a regrettable but eventually trivial side effect of contemporary life. That winter hour, though, up on the summit ridge with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss. We are, as a species, finding it increasingly hard to imagine that we are part of something which is larger than our own capacity. We have come to accept a heresy of aloofness, a humanist belief in human difference, and we suppress wherever possible the checks and balances on us - the reminders that the world is greater than us or that we are contained within it.” 5 likes
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