The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

7 Jan

I had discovered books by Robert Macfarlane (“Macfarlane”) quite by accident. I had attended a panel on travel writing in a Literature Festival and as part of the discussion, William Dalrymple (“Dalrymple”), one of my favorite authors, described  Macfarlane ’s writing as “Prose that he (i.e. Dalrymple) can only dream of writing”. It took me a while but I picked up  Macfarlane’s first book, Mountains of the Mind, and finally understood what  Dalrymple  meant by his statement. It was a beautiful prose combined with adventures, mountains and stories to create a sublime read.  Macfarlane’s “The Wild Places” was my second book and I loved it even more than his first one.

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

“Wild Places” is a travelogue combined with a memoir covering a range of topics across geography, geology, ecology, history and literature. In this book, Macfarlane describes his adventures to remote places in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland as he looks for the remaining “wild places” and explores relationships and interconnections between these places and humans. There are fifteen essays in the book and each essay covers one landscape through Macfarlane’s journey and personal experiences in that landscape. His journeys take him from Beechwood near his house in Cambridge to Ynys Enlli (Island), Coruisk (Valley), Rannoch Moor (Moor), Black Wood (Forest),  Strathnaver (River Mouth), Cape Wrath (Cape), Ben Hope (Summit), Burren (Grave), Lake District (Ridge), Dorset (Holloways),Orford Ness (Storm beach), Essex Coast (Saltmarsh) and Peak District (Tor).

I loved this book and  Macfarlane’s writing style and prose. I literally read this book word-by-word, picked up a dictionary many times and savored each sentence.  Macfarlane’s descriptions are beautiful, evocative, thoughtful and informative. I loved traveling via this book in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland through these unique narratives and experiences and learnt so much along the way. I had never heard of a Holloway and definitely want to visit one now. I discovered that rocks, ferns, wood make good souvenirs. I learnt to look for nature even in smaller places such as under the rocks or in cracks. I have now figured so many newer ways of exploring places. And lastly, there are references to many books and authors that I hope to read too someday especially Waterlogs by Roger Deakins.

Though, I don’t think I will be able to do some of the things he has done such as sleep in these remote places especially in the cold, so I just loved the journey he takes the reader though his book and I imagined each of these as my own travels. Overall this book is a definite must read for everyone who loves nature, adventure and travelogues.

Macfarlane writes – I also decided that, as I travelled, I would draw up a map to set against the road atlas. A prose map that would seek to make some of the remaining wild places of the archipelago visible again, or that would record them before they vanished for good. This would be a map, I hoped, that would not connect up cities, towns, hotels and airports. Instead, it would link headlands, cliffs, beaches, mountain-tops, tors, forests, river-mouths and waterfalls. This book is that map.”

And reading this book has inspired me to probably someday create my own unique map. 🙂


39 Responses to “The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane”

  1. Lucy Lulu January 7, 2020 at 21:32 #

    I will definitely check this out. You are the second person I’ve heard mention this author over the past couple of weeks. Thanks for the review!


    • getsetandgo January 7, 2020 at 21:34 #

      Thanks and do share your feedback once u read his books.. 😊


      • Lucy Lulu January 7, 2020 at 21:35 #

        Absolutely! I have a long hike coming up in March. It will make good end of day reading. 🙂


      • getsetandgo January 7, 2020 at 21:39 #

        This is perfect for reading amidst nature too.. happy reading and have a good trip 👍🏻


  2. Sharon January 8, 2020 at 05:47 #

    I have loved Macfarlane’s writing the last book Underland is on my list and I must make time to read it.


    • getsetandgo January 8, 2020 at 07:23 #

      I have heard good things about Underland too.. hope to read it soon 😊


  3. drgsartpages January 11, 2020 at 16:15 #

    I’ve just picked this book up too! It’s been in my bookcase for a while, but now is it’s time! Really inspiring!:)


  4. phillywanderlust January 12, 2020 at 05:19 #

    Great suggestion! Just added it to my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ list. Thanks.


  5. poppytumpno4 January 14, 2020 at 19:36 #

    Love his books ! He taps into nature 100% and his writing is beautiful. I’m not on twitter but follow his tweets..definitely worth having a look 🙂


    • getsetandgo January 15, 2020 at 18:55 #

      I so agree with you on this.. I am yet to come across anyone else who writes about nature as Macfarlane does…Have you seen his book – Lost Words?


  6. seberrier January 15, 2020 at 18:20 #

    I will definitely check it out!


  7. Virginia Duran January 15, 2020 at 20:24 #

    This looks like the kind of book all travelers should read for inspiration. I didn’t know about it so thanks for sharing 🙂


  8. travelpictorium January 17, 2020 at 18:42 #

    I’ve just bought “The Old Ways” by Robert Macfarlane, I’m wondering if it’s as good as this one. I’ve been listening to a musical collaboration with Robert Macfarlane and a group of folk singers: ‘The Lost Words: Spell Songs’, inspired by Macfarlane’s book The Lost Words. ( The song ‘Blessing’ ( is absolutely beautiful music, very haunting. I’m telling anyone who’ll listen about it!! Gorgeous. Makes me think of being in the Hebrides.


    • getsetandgo January 19, 2020 at 13:43 #

      Thank you so much for introducing me to Spell Songs. I have a copy of the Lost Words but had no clue about the folk songs around it… Loved the entire album and agree with you on the song “Blessing”.. I am hooked onto this.. Let me know how you like “The Old Ways”, I have that too and will pick it up in a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. majaalifee January 18, 2020 at 10:33 #

    nice 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kagould17 January 19, 2020 at 00:25 #

    Hello. Just a note to let you know I have nominated your blog for the Blogger Recognition Award. Here is the link to my post
    I enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for sharing. Allan


    • getsetandgo January 19, 2020 at 22:39 #

      Hello.. Thank you so much for this award and the kind words.. Sincerely appreciate this nomination. I will write a blog post soon 🙂


  11. Ankur Mithal January 20, 2020 at 10:52 #

    Thanks. The objective should be to ‘make your own road,’ as one of the punchline in an Indian SUV ad used to say a few years back.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Camaleon January 29, 2020 at 22:25 #

    Hello there! Glad to hear you liked Macfarlane… I have a couple of his books and you ‘ve just bumped them closer to the top of the “to read” list. Have you read anything by Kathleen Jamie? I’m a big fan and it sounds like her work is similar to Macfarlane’s… essays about nature basically. But Jamie is a poet and a very thoughtful (as well as energetic and adventurous!) writer. She joins archaeological digs and biology surveys in the north (Scotland, Canada, Scandinavia) and adds her evocative poet’s view to the expeditions’ findings. For example, she writes about racing around the island Rhona with her biologist colleagues when a pod of orcas appears… they abandon the tally of little swifts to run along the seacliffs, trying to see more of the orcas. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • getsetandgo January 31, 2020 at 14:23 #

      Hi, thank you so much for introducing me to Kathleen Jamie.. I haven’t read any of her work.. In fact didn’t know about her before you shared this comment… She sounds fabulous and would love to read her books.. Which one do you recommend to start with?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pit February 3, 2020 at 18:47 #

    Thanks for making me aware of this book. I LOVE Britain.


  14. mindfulhighway February 6, 2020 at 09:52 #

    I was looking for new books to read. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ninazee78 February 6, 2020 at 23:08 #

    This sounds really interesting. I am going on a solo trip soon and am looking for some good books to take. This sounds like a good one. Thank you for your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. adventuresinarabic March 15, 2020 at 20:55 #

    If you like mcfarlan you must read waterlogged. It’s a similar style, but warmer


    • getsetandgo March 16, 2020 at 19:46 #

      Hi, thanks for the recommendation.. Will it be possible to share the name of the author.. There are quite a few books with this name on amazon 🙂


      • adventuresinarabic March 16, 2020 at 23:02 #

        Roger Deakin. The book really changed British nature writing and gave a huge attention boost to wild swimming, so even though you haven’t read it you might find it has indirectly influenced you


      • getsetandgo March 17, 2020 at 08:06 #

        Thanks so much for this… Robert Macfarlane has traveled with him in The Wild Places and refers to his work throughout this book… Will definitely read this one 🙂


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