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The Wild Places

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,097 Ratings  ·  236 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 Books (first published 2007)
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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 Southern Irish independence (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: travel, nonfiction
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Anneliese Tirry
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
♥ 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
Casey Hampton
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Describes Robert Macfarlane's adventures to remote islands, beaches, marshes, forests, and mountaintops of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales as he seeks out the remaining "wild places," and reflects on the relationship between humanity and the natural world

I liked everything here, but I just wished it had been... more, more hereness, more poetry, more immediacy, less conscious intent. I feel Macfarlane is most successful when he forgets about his reader and conveys the gravity of place.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wat is wild? Zijn er nog wilde plekken in west Europa of heeft de mens overal een stempel opgedrukt? En is dat laatste erg?
Een heerlijk boek vol inspiratie, waarvan ik meteen zin kreeg om mijn slaapzak te pakken en buiten in het bos te gaan slapen.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book gave me goosebumps--it's just stunning. Infused with life, curiosity, and wonder. I could not recommend it more highly.
Dead John Williams
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favs, reviewed
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, british, nature
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.
Feb 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Some really great lines...

"Pursuing our project of civilization, we have pushed thousands of species towards the brink of disappearance, and many thousands more over that edge. The loss, after it is theirs, is ours. Wild animals, like wild places, are invaluable to us precisely because they are not us. They are uncompromisingly different. The paths they follow, the impulses that guide them, are of other orders..."

Paul Stevenson
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Rob Adey
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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!
Chris Wright
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I was only able to get half way through this and I enjoyed what I read but the pacing was difficult for me at times so 3.5
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.
Dan Coxon
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved this. Lyrical and wise, and not just on the obvious 'wild' places - he's great on the smaller wildernesses closer to home too. Essential reading.
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Nature Literature: The Wild Places Discussion 9 24 Nov 08, 2014 08:51AM  
A New Book For My 'Precious' List 1 14 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.
More about Robert Macfarlane

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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.” 23 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.” 8 likes
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