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The Wild Places

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  3,538 ratings  ·  400 reviews
"An eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we're laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth's surface."
Bill McKibben

Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago'
Paperback, 340 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Penguin Group (first published September 3rd 2007)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Well this is one of those travel books with a double journey. On the surface Macfarlane travels across the, well dare I say the British Isles given the long established fact of an Irish independent state, (view spoiler) ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
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
Adrian White
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My life has been enriched by this book - which sounds fairly pretentious, I know, but I don't care. Sharing the author's journeys to the Wild Places of Britain and Ireland has increased my awareness and appreciation of the world I inhabit. And the untimely death of his friend adds a moving and very human dimension to what is already a remarkable book. ...more
Paul  Perry
In The Wild Places, Robert MacFarlane sets out to find if there are any such environments left within the British Isles. The book begins contemplatively, with the author journeying to one of his favourite local places, a beech wood outside the city of Cambridge where he lives, climbing a tree as is his wont, so he can sit and observe, and be part of, this sylvan idyll.

This sets the tone wonderfully. From the very first sentence, you realise that you are in for a special experience; the quality o
Andree Sanborn
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
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I expected to read this in bits and pieces over a period of months but instead, I enjoyed it so much that I read it straight through, with the occasional stop for wikipedia look-ups of places and vocabulary.

This book is classified nature/travel. It is Macfarlane's story of his search through the British Isles for "wild places", where nature is not disturbed or influenced by man. He doubts he will find any so his search starts on the tops of Highland mountains and on the remote islands of the c
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
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thinkers-i-adore

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
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Kick-ass prose. Thoreausian perspective with Brit speak and a fair dose of eccentricity. Fueling my fire for roaming the wild places.
Paul Dembina
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating stuff. Not only a paen to nature's wild places in the UK, but also including historical context that shaped the landscape such as the Clearances in Scotland and the Potato Famine in Ireland.

He's a bit bonkers though, deciding not only to scale a peak in northern Scotland in December but also to camp out for the night in just a sleeping bag.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The whole concept is gold and MacFarlane's understanding of the environment, nature, landscape, flora and fauna is entrancing. Whilst there were areas where I was less interested in the topic occasionally, the style, and the balance of description, personal, historical and anecdotal was spot on. ...more
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't know of any other author who writes like this. Reading his books is like being outside when you're inside and like meditating while thinking hard about something important. This book is a gift to a reader. ...more
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a boy, I spent many hours in treetops enjoying the lofty view and the change in perspective from the ground. MacFarlane opens his book with a treetop perspective also before heading out on his peregrinations that take him to the edges of Britain in search of wildness (which he certainly finds). His most profound discovery, however, is that wildness exists all around us if we just take the time to really look and see. Humanity's grip of this planet is tenuous at best - nature is always forcing ...more

1 - Robert Macfarlane's search for Britain's wilderness starts in Skye's sanctuary valley of Coruisk. Read by Richard Greenwood.

2 - The author's search moves to Strathnaver in Scotland, inhabited by man for over six millennia. Read by Richard Greenwood.

3 - The author takes a winter walk in the snowy Lake District, in his search for Britain's wilderness. Read by Richard Greenwood.

4 - Robert Macfarlane's search for Britain's wilderness moves to a reclaimed abandoned estate in Essex.

The author's se
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Ruth Kenyon
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is sublime. I read it slowly and carefully, not missing a single word. I've yet to find a nature writer that has the same delicious turn of phrase, or makes you feel as comfortable and uplifted about the natural world as Macfarlane does. Liberally sprinkled with detail about friendships, habits, history, geology, collecting, memory, sleeping under the stars, swimming in the wild, walking, weather and exploration. It's a feast - definitely not romanticised - just a great book about our ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
From a favourite perch at the top of a beech tree, in a small wood at the edge of the city of Cambridge, Macfarlane would survey the city and neighbouring fields, and feel a familiar ache to find truly wild places, where evidence of human presence was absent. The growth of civilisation, of course, means necessarily that truly wild places are ever decreasing, and he worried that there would be no such places left in Britain. I confess I shared his sceptisicm: as a native of Canada, a land where r ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to Marcfarlane's writing in Underworld and fell in love. In The Wild Places, he sets out to look at the wild places still left in the UK. Through the course of a year, he gets out into the wild (he is much more tolerant of cold than I am) and breathes in some of the most remote parts of the country. Day and night, summer and winter - he finds the beauty and the wildness that we often have lost. In the course of the year, though, he also recognizes the wildness that can be found ...more
Adrian Fingleton
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The author sets out to discover a set of 'wild' places in Britain and Ireland and his musings on ecology, nature, why we exist and so on are very interesting. His evident love of nature shines through, and its interesting that along the way he realises that 'wild places' do not necessarily have to be remote, but can be just around the corner. And no less intriguing for that. I very much enjoyed reading the book and finding out more about some selected wild places in t ...more
Sophy H
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rambling lovers, nature lovers, camping enthusiasts, wild swimming fans, nature fans,
Shelves: outdoor-nature
Beautifully written book detailing trips to wild spaces in Scotland, Wales and England, to search for that "something" we as humans in the rat race have lost.

Macfarlane strikes the right tone between travelogue, prose and factual information with an easy style of writing.

The enthusiasm shown by the author seeps through in each page, and his excitement about walking, camping, wild swimming (often naked!!) and climbing is infectious.

Especially poignant is when he talks about his friend who died
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'We are fallen in mostly broken pieces, I thought, but the wild can still return us to ourselves.'

What a moving and beautiful book about 'the relief of relief'. I finished it on a cold, stormy and rainy day on the west coast of Lewis. So appropriate.
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully-written, meditative account of searching for wild places in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Perfect for armchair adventuring and vicarious wandering. The meticulous moment-by-moment details make the scenes vivid and immersive, and you really feeling like you're there with him, nightwalking in the woods, swimming in the cold seas, freezing on forbidding mountain peaks, shivering before peat fires in remote cottages on the moors ... ...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
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
I enjoyed The Wild Places. It occasionally dragged and at other times I thought he was daft for sleeping out in the cold at places like Ben Hope in Scotland. However, on balance, The Wild Places is a deep and moving account of the UK's and Ireland's wilderness. Macfarlane's prose is often lovely. It is a shame there were so few photographs in the book and I hope at future edition will include more photographs.

I read this as prep for a trip to England and Wales because it was on Road Scholar's r
Robert Macfarlane is a uniquely perceptive and eloquent writer on nature and landscape. In this book he travels to various British places in search of different types and degrees of wildness.
Sadie Slater
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought a copy of Robert Macfarlane's The Wild Places in the Highland Bookshop in Fort William, mostly on the strength of there being a chapter about Rannoch Moor which I'd crossed on foot three days earlier, and I picked it up to read last week out of a longing for hills and open spaces instead of streets and houses and the flatness of the Thames Valley.

The Wild Places is MacFarlane's quest for what remains of the wild in built-up 21st century Britain and Ireland. From a beechwood near his Cam
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Robert Macfarlane is a British nature 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.

Robert Macfarlane is the author of prize-winning and bestselling books about landscape, nature, people and place, including Mountain

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