The series Notes and Quotes highlights interesting people, writings, places and quotes while reading books I like. This is a way to store this information in my external memory, because my human memory often fails. Most of the topics are mapped on Discover British Isles.

In The Wild Places (2017) Robert Macfarlane sets out for the wildness that remains in Britain and Ireland. Battling wind and cold, trailing hedges and wildwood, and wading burns and seashores, Macfarlane tells the stories of places where nature is king. Larded with historical, geological, etymological knowledge and references to past and present writers, he takes the reader along his selection of savage settings. The Wild Places is already a nature classic, and a reminder that we need to connect with the wildness, now it is still possible.

1. Beechwood

2. Island
Ynys Enlli, Wales – 21-42
Peregrini

3. Valley
Valley of Coruisk, Isle of Skye – 45-62
Story of Sweeney
The Lost Valley of Bidean nam Bian – 48

45 – It told of an Ulster king, Sweeney, who so offended Christian priest that a curse was put on him. The curse declared that Sweeney would be transformed into ‘a creature of the air’, and could live only in the wild places of Ireland and western Scotland. Like a wandering bird – a peregrine – he would have to shun human company, and to seek our remoteness wherever it could be found.

61 – In such a place, your conventional units of chronology (the century, the life-span, the decade, the year, the day, the heartbeat) become all but imperceptible, and your individual gestures and impulses (the lift of a hand, the skimming stroke taken within water, the flash of an anger, a turn of a speech or thought) acquired an eerie quickness. The larger the impulses of the human world – its wars, civilisations eras – seem remote.

4. Moor
Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe – 65-83
W.H. Murray

5. Forest
The Black Wood, Glen Coe – 87-111
Deforestation of Britain
Elm disease
Poet and musician Ivor Gurney

92 – The association of the wild and the wood also runs deep in etymology. The two words are thought to have grown out of the root word wall and the Old Teutonic root waltzes, meaning ‘forest’. Waltham entered Old English in its variant forms of ‘weald’, ‘wild’, and ‘wold’, which were used to designate both ‘a wild place’ and ‘ a wooded place’, in which wild creatures – wolves, foxes, bears – survived. The wild and the wood also graft together in the Latin word silva, which means ‘forest’, and from which emerged the idea of ‘savage’, with all its connotations of fertility.

6. River-mouth
Strathnaver broch – 115-29
The Clearance 

7. Cape
Sandwood Bay – 133-49
George Orwell – Jura – 139
Cartography

141 – …in its pre-modern expressions, mapmaking was a pursuit that mingled knowledge and supposition, that told stories about places, that admitted fear, love, memory and amazement into its projections.

8. Summit
Ben Hope – 153-8

9. Grave
The Burren – 162-79 and Bin Chua na – 179-83
Limestone
Burrials
Famine 1847
Croagh Patrick 183-4

10. Ridge
Red Pike, Lake District – 191-212
Edward Thomas – Wales – 196-8
Light and stars – 200-4
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 207-10
Warnscale Beck, Buttermere – 210-2

11. Holloway
North Chideock, Dorset – 215-38
Stephen Graham – The Gentle Art of Tramping – 229-31
Burton Bradstock – 235

216 – Holloways do not exist on the unyielding loch regions of the archipelago, where the roads and paths stay high, riding the hard surface of the ground. But in the soft-stone countries of southern England – in the chalk of Kent, Wiltshire and East Anglia, in the yellow sandstone of Dorset and Somerset, in the greensand of Surrey and in the malmstone of Hampshire and Sussex – many holloways are to be found, some of them twenty feet deep: more ravine than road. They go by different names in different regions – bottles, groundless, chutes – but they are most usually known as holloways.

232 – French philosopher Gaston Bachelard: ‘Each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. In this way we cover the universe with drawings we have lived. These drawings need not to be exact. But they need to be written according to the spaes of our inner landscapes.’

12. Storm-beach
Orford Ness, Suffolk – 241-67
Blakeney Spit – 243-6, 252-5
Vaughan Cornish
Orford Ness – 255-7, 261-3

242 – I had begun to think that the history of Britain and Ireland could be well comprehended through the history of its great rock types – granite, sandstone, slate, chalk, limestone and flint. There were others, of course: basalt, shale, the clays. But these six rocks, it seemed to me, formed the strong mineral skeleton of the archipelago. Whatever we did to the skin of the country, the skeleton would remain.

248 – Monadist (monad: any fundamental singular metaphysical entity) Vaughan Cornish: ‘the waves of the sea – beautiful, mysterious and insistent – drew me more and more to the path on the cliff whence I could watch them curl and break, and listen to their splash upon the sandy shore.’

13. Saltmarch
Woodham Walter, Essex – 271-98
John Baker – The Peregrine
Dengie Peninsula – 285-92
St Cedd – 285-6, 293

286 – On St Cedd’s abbey: Sunk into its base were three stones. One dolerite, had come from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne; the second, gneiss, from Iona, where the Celtic mission in Britain began; the third, lias, from Lastingham, in the Yorkshire Moors, the village to which Cedd had travelled from Essex and where he had eventually died of plague.

14. Tor
Bamford, Peak District – 301-9
The Tor of the Snow Hares

15. Beechwood


Imprint: Granta
Published: 09/11/2017
ISBN: 9781783784493
Length: 352 pages